Good News About the Election

by Joshua Foust on 7/30/2009 · 7 comments

The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the Afghan election next month.

The Taliban in Afghanistan warned on Thursday it would attempt to derail next month’s presidential election, calling on Afghans to boycott the poll and urging them to “join the trenches of jihad”.

Afghan and foreign troops are battling a growing Taliban-led insurgency across Afghanistan, with attacks escalating after thousands of U.S. and British troops launched major operations in southern Helmand province this month.

The increased violence coincides with campaigning for the Aug. 20 poll, the second direct vote for president since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

A statement issued by the Taliban’s leadership council and posted on a website it uses (, said the election was a U.S. “invention” and urged voters to join them instead of taking part in a poll it labelled a farce.

This is wonderful news! Seriously, I was worried when the Taliban hadn’t contested any of the voter registration drives, not even in insurgency-ridden areas like Ghazni or Kunar. To me, that indicated they felt so unthreatened by the election that it was fine to let it proceed—and even worse, the inevitability of Hamid Karzai to lose win could be easily spun into “democracy doesn’t work.”

But now the Taliban seem genuinely concerned by the election. If they want to disrupt it, that means they think it carries much more importance than several months ago, when registration was proceeding relatively unmolested. That they now want to create a ruckus means something has changed that has made them nervous about what a successful election, even if it’s just forcing Karzai into a run off, could mean.

Sounds kind of paradoxical, but it makes a lot of sense.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Noah Tucker July 30, 2009 at 3:48 pm

“and even worse, the inevitability of Hamid Karzai to lose could be easily spun into “democracy doesn’t work.””

Did you mean to say “the inevitability of HK to win?

Joshua Foust July 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Dammit. Yes, yes, I did mean to say that.

David M July 31, 2009 at 9:19 am

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/31/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

anand July 31, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Any idea when Afghanistan elects some provincial and district governments?

Joel Hafvenstein August 1, 2009 at 9:46 am

I’m still not convinced that the Taliban are going to commit any serious resources to election disruption — they made threats in the previous elections as well, but never really followed through. Ultimately, I agree with your pessimistic analysis: I don’t think they feel threatened by elections. But we’ll see. August 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm

This just in earlier this evening from the Taliban – no ceasefire, election results rejected (even before ballots cast), and any casualties at the ballot box are the victims’ fault….

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