Posted by: Christian | June 3, 2009

Karzai Gets Two More Key Endorsements, Commences Victory Lap

A month ago I tongue-in-cheek announced Karzai’s election victory. But I did really believe it to be over by then. Recent events have just put the nail in the anti-Karzai electoral coffin. Karzai has clearly moved away from the speculated-upon Pashtun-centric electoral strategy with the fresh endorsements from Mohaqeq [Hazara] and Dostum (caveat below) [Uzbek] adding to the Fahim [Tajik]/Khalili [Hazara] VP and deputy VP picks. BBC Farsi with the gory details and the “imaginative” pic:

Hazaristan Times has a few details in English.

But is Dostum really involved? The Globe & Mail mentions that the deal was worked out not by Dostum, but by the acting head of Junbesh (cynics may insert their arguments about his actual authority here):

Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, a Hazara who leads the Hezb-i-Wahdat party, told Reuters he had confirmed his support for Karzai at a meeting on Saturday, after weeks of negotiations about power sharing under a future government.

A senior leader of Junbish-i-Melli party, founded by ethnic Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum, also committed his party to backing the government.

“Yesterday, we had a tripartite meeting (with Karzai and Mohaqiq) and we reached the conclusion that we would support him in the elections,” Sayed Noorullah, the head of Junbish-i- Mellei’s [sic]central council, told Reuters.

As for Dostum, I’ve been leaning towards Colla’s guess rather than TIME’s about the temporary/permanent nature of his “exile” to Turkey. But this should be cleared up within the month. If an endorsement deal included Dostum’s return, he’ll be back ASAP.

Dostum chilling out in Ankara in December (source):

As it stands, Karzai has Fahim, Khalili, the Uzbek-dominated Junbesh, the Hazara Wahdat, Atta Mohammad Nur, Sherzai, etc… This is not an election, it’s a bandwagon (which the Taliban and associates are taking shots at). This doesn’t mean at all that every Uzbek, Hazara, 4Wiloyat+Mazari+Panjshiri Tajik and *giggle* Barakzai+Popalzai+every Pashtun who isn’t loving the insurgency is going to vote for Karzai. Ethnic/tribal politics at the national electoral level is not an absolute. And there are still other candidates like Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah² who will get not just the voters who like them, but even a chunk of the protest vote.  However, Karzai has very likely secured a decent chunk of those constituents. My best guess is a first-round victory for Karzai, no run-off.

Just did a quick google search and found a second opinion:

“The opposition is so splintered and Karzai has put together a broad enough coalition that he should be a sure winner,” said Barnett Rubin, director of studies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

And I like Waheed Mujda’s analysis:

“People like Dostam and Mohaqiq had other options too. They could support other candidates as well, but it seems they think that everything is going the way of Karzai and he is the winner,” Mujda said.

Dostam and Mohaqiq no longer have the same level of support as in 2004 when they were on the presidential ballot, securing 10 percent and 11.7 percent of the vote respectively.

“But they will definitely put the balance in favour of Karzai,” Mujda said.

The ticket:

As for the quid pro quo with these endorsements, your guess is as good as mine.

I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the endorsement from Human Rights Watch.


  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 06/03/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  2. Thanks for a really useful article. The election issue is getting lost in the McCrystal/surge/body count/civlian casualties noise. Two thoughts:

    a) Although of course somewhat depressing, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that Afghan politics is still operating in this way, even after its “rebirth”, post 2001?

    b) I worry that there is too much focus on the day itself – the West wants a nice fat election tick in the box – and not so much on the flawed, fragile and corrupt nature of the govt and parliamentary system that is still in place the day after the election.

    Thanks again

  3. It is going to be an interesting election.

    The average Afghan wants change. And only if it is a fair election, Karzai will be the loser.

    But you have to worry about how these supporting warloards are going to use their powers to make the elections unfair.

    If Karzai wins, this will be the third mujaheddin “government” (1992, 2004 and 2009) and the era of warlords and war criminals will last another five years leaving Afghanistan in further despair.

  4. Dostum. Sweet Jeebus, cant somebody just do the right thing and run him over w a bulldozer?


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