Context & Culture

The Green Trend mobilisation and a possible new rift in Jamiat


As of late, the Green Trend movement has been reactivating its public and web-based activities. The movement has been established by former NDS director Amrullah Salih, together with former Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar, one of the two most prominent high-ranking government officials marginalised by President Karzai as – what many people believe – concessions to Pakistan that were meant to further a political deal with the insurgents, an approach at least Saleh has since vehemently opposed publicly. This, in turn, has earned him the ire of Ustad Rabbani. AAN’s Gran Hewad and Thomas Ruttig are looking at the new movement’s background and on possible scenarios for its ‘mother organisation’, Jamiat.

After leaving the Afghan intelligence agency(*), its former head Amrullah Saleh establishedRawand-e Sabz-e Afghanistan(The Green Trend, see its website which was re-activated of late after some months ‘under repair’here), a movement that opposes President Karzai’s attempts to reach ‘reconciliation’ with the Taleban and, currently in particular, protests against what it calls the deal based release of a high number of insurgency-related detainees. Already in February, in an interview with popular Kabul-based Tolo TV, Saleh has said: ‘It is a wrong policy which will hurt the morale of the people of Afghanistan instead of boosting it.’ (On his position, in English, see Saleh’s 6 April article ‘The Anti-Taliban Constituency: The key to success in Afghanistan” in the US-based National Review here.)
Immediately after he left NDS, Saleh travelled to northern provinces and to his home province, the Panjshir, and started mobilising. Public gatherings were held with local people, amongst other places in Takhar and the Panjshir, where Saleh stated that he wanted to make them aware of the upcoming Karzai-Taleban deal which dangerously ‘plays’ with ‘the destiny of the nation’.

At the same time, Saleh, together with Hanif Atmar – another former minister sacked by Karzai – held speeches at a gathering organized byBonyad-e Shahrwand (Citizen’s Foundation) in Kabul on 2 February, a civil society organization, where both supported the idea of US permanent bases in Afghanistan. After this appearance, there were rumours that Saleh and Atmar will start a political party and will run for the upcoming presidential election (see a report about this in Pashto here). But this was their first and final joint political public appearance. Both seem to have parted ways by now, and Saleh apparently has chosen another way.

On 5 May, his young supporters organized a ‘Gathering for Justice’ in Kabul in a large tent erected at Kabul’s airport road where more and less 10,000 people were shouting slogans like ‘Down with Karzai’ and ‘No deal with the Taleban’. Atmar wasn’t amongst the participants. But other prominent politicians were: Unexpectedly, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the Hope and Change coalition, entered the tent and Saleh, the host, tied a green ribbon around his neck, a symbol of the Green Trend which was worn by majority of the organisers including Saleh himself.

Apart from Abdullah, at least five MPs also attended this meeting: Dr. Sayed Ali Kazemi from Kabul, the brother and successor of the late Mustafa Kazemi(**) as leader of Hezb-e Iqtedar-e Melli (National Power Party), Fahima Sadat from Jowzjan, Fawzia Naseryar Guldarayi from Kabul, Dr. Ibrahim Malikzada from Ghor (a former anti-Taleban commander) and Mohammad Sarwar Osmani from Farah. Also officials from the pro-democracy Labour and Development Party (Hezb-e Kar wa Tause’a) were prominently participating with three speakers, but not the party’s leader. The head of its political committee Sulaiman Ali Dostzada said that ‘our party leadership had meetings with Saleh since five months and figured out that it has the same goals as Mr. Saleh, so it decided to join the Green Trend, and to contribute to the gathering.’ The gathering itself also had been well-advertised on facebook and widely covered by the media.

In its final declaration, the participants of the gathering spoke in favour of ‘real peace’ – as opposed to merely a ‘deal’ -, in favour of a ‘legal Loya Jirga’, organised as laid down in the constitution – as opposed to Karzai’s announcement of a ‘traditional’ one, i.e one where he appoints the participants -, and in favour of government accountability. They accused the government that it uses the slogan of reform as a tool for power sharing just amongst a corrupt elite and that it tries to marginalize the democratic base in the country and civil society while expanding corruption and weakening the rule of law. As they consider the Taleban a Pakistani tool, they demanded from the government to ‘defend’ the country’s interests and reveal the details of any deal to be reached with the Taleban. (Read the Dari version of the declaration here.)

It is not only Saleh and his Green Trend that have concerns about a possible Karzai deal with the Taleban. Only days after the ‘Gathering for Justice’, Muhammad Muhaqqeq, a former Jihadi leader, chairman of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Mardom Afghanistan (Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan), representing Kabul in the lower house and, most significant here, a member of High Peace Council (HPC), opposed the council’s decisions on prisoners’ release. Pointing to the two-day fighting in Kandahar earlier this month, he said in the 9 April Wolesi Jirga plenary session that the releases have ‘resulted in a worsening of the security situation’ and he demanded the abolishment of the HPC. A group of the young Green Trend organisers met the Senate’s deputy speaker Alam Ezadyar, who is also from the Panjshir, days after the gathering and asked the Senate to support the ideas raised there.

In a stark contrast, HPC chairman and former Interim and Islamic State of Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani – who is the actual leader of the political camp, Jamiat-e Islami, from which also Saleh and Dr Abdullah come – reacted by saying that those who criticise the peace process in Afghanistan don’t have a proper understanding of it (on Tolo TV, 12 May) and that ‘peace and reconciliation is the only way to end the conflict in Afghanistan’. This was echoed by second vice president Karim Khalili, a leader of the Hazara minority that was one of the main victims of the Taleban rule, in a meeting with the HPC where he said that ‘the efforts we undertake in order to end the widening conflict do not mean that this is to sacrifice the past decade’s achievements which have been defined in the constitution.’

With ‘transition‘ and the anticipated withdrawal of foreign troops looming, the inner-Afghan debate about the country’s future is becoming more heated. The fear about a possible Karzai-Taleban deal, shared by broad sections of Afghan society, is increasingly becoming a rallying cry for an ‘opposition’ that, hitherto, had been torn between rejecting President Karzai’s policies and the lure of governmental positions. But, as Rabbani’s criticism of the ‘opposition’ shows, it is still far from being united: While Rabbani himself still is the political leader of Jamiat-e Islami, the most visible opposition force, to which Saleh and Dr Abdullah also belong, he hold on to his HPC chair – a presidential appointment – at the same time.

It remains to be seen whether this constellation will change with the Jamiatparty congress planned for the newar future. Up to now, it has been said by source close to Jamiat that the ustad was planning to give up some of his party functions and ‘return to his teaching job’ at university, making space for the younger generation in the day-to-day political business while staying in the background as something like Jamiat’s ‘spiritual’ leader.

It also remains to be seen whether the controversy about a ‘Taleban deal’ and the HPC’s role will lead to a deeper split in the Jamiati ranks, with the Saleh/Abdullah group finally moving into a genuine position of opposition. Or will, again, old loyalties prevail – as they did when Qanuni and his New Afghanistan Party returned to Jamiat’s fray after the 2005 parliamentary elections, in a deal that gave Qanuni (who had run on his new party’s ticket, and not on Jamiat’s) the support of the whole Jamiat in his successful bid for the Wolesi Jirga’s speakership, a position Rabbani also had aspired to?

(*) It is not fully clear what came first, his demission or his dismissal by President Karzai. Saleh’s official title was Director-General of the National Directorate for Security (NDS), a post he held since 2004, following his former Northern Alliance colleague Eng. Arif Sarwari who is now a Senator.

(**) Mustafa Kazemi was killed together with several other MPs at a suicide bombing in the Baghlan sugar factory on 6 November 2007.

As of late, the Green Trend movement has been reactivating its public and web-based activities. The movement has been established by former NDS director Amrullah Salih, together with former Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar, one of the two most prominent high-ranking government officials marginalised by President Karzai as – what many people believe – concessions to Pakistan that were meant to further a political deal with the insurgents, an approach at least Saleh has since vehemently opposed publicly. This, in turn, has earned him the ire of Ustad Rabbani. AAN’s Gran Hewad and Thomas Ruttig are looking at the new movement’s background and on possible scenarios for its ‘mother organisation’, Jamiat.

After leaving the Afghan intelligence agency(*), its former head Amrullah Saleh establishedRawand-e Sabz-e Afghanistan(The Green Trend, see its website which was re-activated of late after some months ‘under repair’here), a movement that opposes President Karzai’s attempts to reach ‘reconciliation’ with the Taleban and, currently in particular, protests against what it calls the deal based release of a high number of insurgency-related detainees. Already in February, in an interview with popular Kabul-based Tolo TV, Saleh has said: ‘It is a wrong policy which will hurt the morale of the people of Afghanistan instead of boosting it.’ (On his position, in English, see Saleh’s 6 April article ‘The Anti-Taliban Constituency: The key to success in Afghanistan” in the US-based National Review here.)
Immediately after he left NDS, Saleh travelled to northern provinces and to his home province, the Panjshir, and started mobilising. Public gatherings were held with local people, amongst other places in Takhar and the Panjshir, where Saleh stated that he wanted to make them aware of the upcoming Karzai-Taleban deal which dangerously ‘plays’ with ‘the destiny of the nation’.

At the same time, Saleh, together with Hanif Atmar – another former minister sacked by Karzai – held speeches at a gathering organized byBonyad-e Shahrwand (Citizen’s Foundation) in Kabul on 2 February, a civil society organization, where both supported the idea of US permanent bases in Afghanistan. After this appearance, there were rumours that Saleh and Atmar will start a political party and will run for the upcoming presidential election (see a report about this in Pashto here). But this was their first and final joint political public appearance. Both seem to have parted ways by now, and Saleh apparently has chosen another way.

On 5 May, his young supporters organized a ‘Gathering for Justice’ in Kabul in a large tent erected at Kabul’s airport road where more and less 10,000 people were shouting slogans like ‘Down with Karzai’ and ‘No deal with the Taleban’. Atmar wasn’t amongst the participants. But other prominent politicians were: Unexpectedly, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the Hope and Change coalition, entered the tent and Saleh, the host, tied a green ribbon around his neck, a symbol of the Green Trend which was worn by majority of the organisers including Saleh himself.

Apart from Abdullah, at least five MPs also attended this meeting: Dr. Sayed Ali Kazemi from Kabul, the brother and successor of the late Mustafa Kazemi(**) as leader of Hezb-e Iqtedar-e Melli (National Power Party), Fahima Sadat from Jowzjan, Fawzia Naseryar Guldarayi from Kabul, Dr. Ibrahim Malikzada from Ghor (a former anti-Taleban commander) and Mohammad Sarwar Osmani from Farah. Also officials from the pro-democracy Labour and Development Party (Hezb-e Kar wa Tause’a) were prominently participating with three speakers, but not the party’s leader. The head of its political committee Sulaiman Ali Dostzada said that ‘our party leadership had meetings with Saleh since five months and figured out that it has the same goals as Mr. Saleh, so it decided to join the Green Trend, and to contribute to the gathering.’ The gathering itself also had been well-advertised on facebook and widely covered by the media.

In its final declaration, the participants of the gathering spoke in favour of ‘real peace’ – as opposed to merely a ‘deal’ -, in favour of a ‘legal Loya Jirga’, organised as laid down in the constitution – as opposed to Karzai’s announcement of a ‘traditional’ one, i.e one where he appoints the participants -, and in favour of government accountability. They accused the government that it uses the slogan of reform as a tool for power sharing just amongst a corrupt elite and that it tries to marginalize the democratic base in the country and civil society while expanding corruption and weakening the rule of law. As they consider the Taleban a Pakistani tool, they demanded from the government to ‘defend’ the country’s interests and reveal the details of any deal to be reached with the Taleban. (Read the Dari version of the declaration here.)

It is not only Saleh and his Green Trend that have concerns about a possible Karzai deal with the Taleban. Only days after the ‘Gathering for Justice’, Muhammad Muhaqqeq, a former Jihadi leader, chairman of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Mardom Afghanistan (Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan), representing Kabul in the lower house and, most significant here, a member of High Peace Council (HPC), opposed the council’s decisions on prisoners’ release. Pointing to the two-day fighting in Kandahar earlier this month, he said in the 9 April Wolesi Jirga plenary session that the releases have ‘resulted in a worsening of the security situation’ and he demanded the abolishment of the HPC. A group of the young Green Trend organisers met the Senate’s deputy speaker Alam Ezadyar, who is also from the Panjshir, days after the gathering and asked the Senate to support the ideas raised there.

In a stark contrast, HPC chairman and former Interim and Islamic State of Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani – who is the actual leader of the political camp, Jamiat-e Islami, from which also Saleh and Dr Abdullah come – reacted by saying that those who criticise the peace process in Afghanistan don’t have a proper understanding of it (on Tolo TV, 12 May) and that ‘peace and reconciliation is the only way to end the conflict in Afghanistan’. This was echoed by second vice president Karim Khalili, a leader of the Hazara minority that was one of the main victims of the Taleban rule, in a meeting with the HPC where he said that ‘the efforts we undertake in order to end the widening conflict do not mean that this is to sacrifice the past decade’s achievements which have been defined in the constitution.’

With ‘transition‘ and the anticipated withdrawal of foreign troops looming, the inner-Afghan debate about the country’s future is becoming more heated. The fear about a possible Karzai-Taleban deal, shared by broad sections of Afghan society, is increasingly becoming a rallying cry for an ‘opposition’ that, hitherto, had been torn between rejecting President Karzai’s policies and the lure of governmental positions. But, as Rabbani’s criticism of the ‘opposition’ shows, it is still far from being united: While Rabbani himself still is the political leader of Jamiat-e Islami, the most visible opposition force, to which Saleh and Dr Abdullah also belong, he hold on to his HPC chair – a presidential appointment – at the same time.

It remains to be seen whether this constellation will change with the Jamiatparty congress planned for the newar future. Up to now, it has been said by source close to Jamiat that the ustad was planning to give up some of his party functions and ‘return to his teaching job’ at university, making space for the younger generation in the day-to-day political business while staying in the background as something like Jamiat’s ‘spiritual’ leader.

It also remains to be seen whether the controversy about a ‘Taleban deal’ and the HPC’s role will lead to a deeper split in the Jamiati ranks, with the Saleh/Abdullah group finally moving into a genuine position of opposition. Or will, again, old loyalties prevail – as they did when Qanuni and his New Afghanistan Party returned to Jamiat’s fray after the 2005 parliamentary elections, in a deal that gave Qanuni (who had run on his new party’s ticket, and not on Jamiat’s) the support of the whole Jamiat in his successful bid for the Wolesi Jirga’s speakership, a position Rabbani also had aspired to?

(*) It is not fully clear what came first, his demission or his dismissal by President Karzai. Saleh’s official title was Director-General of the National Directorate for Security (NDS), a post he held since 2004, following his former Northern Alliance colleague Eng. Arif Sarwari who is now a Senator.

(**) Mustafa Kazemi was killed together with several other MPs at a suicide bombing in the Baghlan sugar factory on 6 November 2007.

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Thematic Category: Context & Culture, Economy & Development