Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

The U.S. Presence and Afghanistan’s National Unity Government: Preserving and Broadening the Political Settlement

AAN 2 min

NYU Center for International Cooperation, August 2016

A paper co-authored by ex-UNAMA Georgette Gagnon and Barnett R. Rubin, recapitulating political and constitutional developments leading to the establishment of the NUG and its falling into crisis. It also discusses amending the Afghan constitution, as a way out of the current crisis, looks back at proposals that were on the table in Bonn 2001 and before the 2003/04 CLJ – but finds more obstacles then encouragement that this could be done in practice. Here for example:

Drafting an amendment to add the o ce of “executive prime minister” to the current presidential constitution is therefore not a simple matter of inserting one additional article. Changing the system of government raises questions of institutional design, none of which seem to have been discussed either in the NUG negotiations or since President Ghani’s inauguration. CEO Abdullah and his supporters may have sought a prime minister who shared authority over the government with the president, rather than worked under the president’s authority. President Ghani and his supporters most likely have never wanted any rival center of executive power. A workable semi-presidential system could be rejected as too presidential by one group and too parliamentary by the other, and could probably not be implemented in Afghanistan.

Some recommendations are understandably debatable: for example the argument for a continuing presence of US troops in the country, as they not only have functioned as a force to prevent post-2001 Afghan governments from unravelling, but also fueled an armed conflict almost over and contributed to an environment in which necessary political steps (elections, a Loya Jirga) cannot be taken in a meaningful way. See the followjgn statement:

Without certified results from district council elections, it is impossible to amend the constitution. (…) without a cessation of hostilities it would still be impossible to hold elections…

(The latter sentence continues with “in some districts” but the “some” is highly euphemistic.)

Euphemistic also the following one – as if the settlement were “on track”:

The U.S., UN and all partners should continue to support the challenging process of keeping the political settlement on track. (…) To keep or gain the support of their taxpayers, international donors will need to certify at the 4 October 2016 Afghanistan Development Conference in Brussels that the NUG is on track for further democratization and reform, including tackling pervasive corruption.

The “what” seems to be clear for Afghanistan, only the “how” remains to be found –also after reading this text.