08 July 2010

Christiane Amanpour: Notes on Afghanistan & Corruption

Winning the war is winning the people" said former Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah in a conversation with Christiane Amanpour in New York.

Corruption, unfair patronage and extremist ideologies seem to be the major factors in the future of Afghanistan. Like an insidious cancer, practices and perspectives that are woven through a culture cannot be eliminated by legislation or exterior force. A cultural shift, a dissatisfaction on the part of the majority with the status quo, will be the key to real and lasting change.

Amanpour will be joining the US ABC News family, where she will begin anchoring the Sunday morning program, This Week, in August. Her 27 years with CNN give her a unique perspective on world events and the people behind them. See her farewell comments via Huffington Post.

On May 28th Amanpour wrote:
I had lunch with former Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah today in New York. He is now leader of the Afghan opposition, The National Alliance and Hope and he has been holding meetings on Capitol Hill.

Calling the situation "very grim" he told me he believes there is still hope for peace and stability and getting things right in his country, but that many opportunities have been wasted since the Taliban and Al Quaeda were first run out of Afghanistan after 9/11. "Can you imagine only about 10,000 US and foreign forces were required to drive them out of all Afghanistan back then" he said. "Now it took 20,000 forces to win Marjah, and we still don't know if the Taliban will come back or not"


As US forces get ready to push back the Taliban from their heartland Kandahar, Abdullah told me it will only succeed if corruption and wholesale patronage is rolled back. "Winning the war is winning the people" he said.


Abdullah added that ridding Kandahar of the Taliban will have a positive effect around the country. Then the Afghan government must show it can empower and protect the people,and reassure them enough to cooperate. The Taliban, like any defeated force, will fall back, he says.


Abdullah told me he told leaders in the US Senate and House, that they still have a partner in the people of Afghanistan, but that the US cannot afford to miss more opportunities to deliver.


He said that required a serious US effort to engage Afghan President Hamid Karzai to fight for the rule of law and against corruption and unfair patronage that favors only a few. He said US legislators in turn voiced equaled measure of support, and concern.

Abdullah says he does not think Karzai takes seriously the US deadline for withdrawing its troops by next summer, believing instead the US wants to stay "forever" for its own geostrategic reasons.


Abdullah says even today things are working out in about 60% of Afghanistan. But he told me he does not want to see US forces pull out too soon, as that would create a dangerous vacuum in the remaining 40% of the country, he told me.


He reminded me that the Afghan people had rejected the Taliban ideology back in 2001, but today, some even dare to tell Karzai to his face, that they prefer the Taliban to his corrupt officials.

Winning the war is winning the people"

So the need is to finish the job, and to finish it well. Then to leave the Afghani people to determine their own future without the extremist ideology of the Taliban, the crippling corruption of the power brokers, or a resident foreign military.
In šāʾ Allāh. Kana Mwari achida. Amen, let it be so.

Amanpour, daughter of an Iranian airline executive and his British wife, is married to former State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin, a Columbia University professor. They have a son, Darius, 9. Amanpour is replacing George Stephanopoulos, who left the show to take Diane Sawyer's place at "Good Morning America." After joining the CNN foreign desk, she reported from the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda and the Balkans.

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