Afghan Candidates for President in 2014

by Alec Metz on 10/7/2013 · 2 comments

The registration of candidates in Afghanistan finished yesterday, and this morning Tolo News announced the complete list. Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Qayum Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Sayed Ishaq Gailani, and Abdul Rahim Wardak are all running for the top spot, and Ismail Khan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Habiba Surabi are among others running for VP positions. With 27 slates, the next six months before the election will undoubtedly prove very interesting as the 81 candidates jockey for position. They are (in order of registration):

1- Bismillah Sher
First vice president, Abdul Karim Ahmadyar
Second vice president, Sultan Hamid Sultani

2- Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
First vice president, Mohammad Khan
Second vice president, Mohammad Mohaqiq

3- Fazal Karim Najimi
First vice president, Mohammad Sabir Tamkeen
Second vice president, Susan Hajati

4- Abdul Rabb Rasul Sayyaf
First vice president, Mohammad Ismail Khan
Second vice president, Abdul Wahab Urfan

5- Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai
First vice president, Abdullah Bromand
Second vice president, Abed Nazar

6- Qutbuddin Hilal
First vice president, Enayatullah Enayat
Second vice president, Mohammad Ali Nabizada

7- Abdul Rahim Wardak
First vice president, Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali
Second vice president, Sayed Hussian Anwari

8- Del Agha Kohdamani
First vice president, Zalmai Hamraz
Second vice president, Toorpakai Azizi

9- Sayed Ishaq Gailani
First vice president, Zakaria Noori
Second vice president, Seema Ismati

10- Sarwar Ahmadzai
First vice president, Abdul Rahman
Second vice president, Kabir Quraishi

11- Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
First vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum
Second vice president, Sarwar Danish

12- Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
First vice president, Ahmad Zia Massoud
Second vice president, Habiba Surabi

13- Sardar Muhammad Nadir Naeem
First vice president, Taj Mohammad Akbar
Second vice president, Azizullah Puya

14- Hamidullah Qaderi
First vice president, Mohammad Arif Baraki
Second vice president, Humaira Haqmal

15- Daoud Sultanzoy
First vice president, Ahmad Saeedi
Second vice president, Kazima Mohaqiq

16- Qayum Karzai
First vice president, Wahidullah Shahrani
Second vice president, Ibrahim Qasmi

17- Gul Agha Sherzai
First vice president, Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi
Second vice president, Mohammad Hashim Zarea

18- Azizullah Ludin
First vice president, Abdul Rahim Karimi
Second vice president, Hamidullah Rahimi

19- Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi
First vice president, Hashmatullah Mujadidi
Second vice president, Ismail Qasimyar

20- Hedayat Amin Arsala
First vice president, Gen. Khudaidad
Second vice president, Safia Seddiqi

21- Salman Ali Doostzadeh
First vice president, Mohammad Yousuf Amin
Second vice president, Aziza Rahban Wardak

22- Farooq Azam
First vice president, Abdul Ghani Asalati
Second vice president, Ahmad Shah Payeezi

23- Khadija Ghaznawi
First vice president, Mohammad Qasim Fayezai
Second vice president, Khair Mohammad Barez

24- Nadir Shah Ahmadzai
First vice president, Faiz Mohammad Daqiq
Second vice president, Qadam Ali Khadim

25- Abdul Hadi Dabeer
First vice president, Sayed Ahmadullah Padshah
Second vice president, Mawlawi Nesar Ahmad Khair Andish

26- Noor Rahman Liwal
First vice president, Ahamad Jan Nazar
Second vice president, Rafiullah

27- Dr. Dawar Nadin
First vice president, Mohammad Hassan Safi
Second vice president, Husai Andar

The BBC has a story about the registration here. All of this assumes the elections actually go ahead, which is not a given. Some have called for up to a four year delay (WPTolo), which although seemingly unlikely now, may become a greater possibility as clear frontrunners emerge in the coming months unpalatable to to the President or parliament, or if the security situation deteriorates. This should be… interesting.

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Alec Metz is an independent policy analyst focusing on security and development in South and Central Asia.

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anan October 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Most of these candidates would be much better than Karzai, and do a better job in getting international help than Karzai.

Most of these candidates are not serious about running for President either; rather their candidacies are a way to negotiate deals for their constituencies.

Alec, you must have been watching negotiations for SOFA. Karzai is demanding a mutual defense clause security guarantee. Do you think he will budge?

Do you think the recent thaw with President Hassan Rouhani opens the door to Iran training and providing enablers to the ANSF?

Alec Metz October 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

All I can do is hope someone would do better than President Karzai has; I’m not convinced most could. At least not from this list. Regardless of Karzai’s faults, the man was dealt an incredibly difficult and complex scenario within which to operate. And those circumstances, for a variety of reasons, haven’t improved. Too often the alleged cupidity, avarice, or instability of Karzai is cited as a primary reason for the lack of success of so many endeavors in Afghanistan, as if he was both planting poppies in the South and simultaneously pumping the almost catastrophic fire-hose of development funds into unstable communities in the East. There’s a lot that is his fault, but there’s a lot that ain’t, too, and it’s important to remember that Afghanistan elected him twice. A Sayyaf presidency, despite the hopeful thoughts of some that his religious extremism would divide the Taliban (although that’s not what happened last time), could just as easily accelerate the fracturing and factionalization of the country, as non-Sunni non-Pashtuns remember what he did not that long ago. Similarly, an academic sophisticate like Ashraf Ghani may cause many regional and commercial interests to fear a loss of power and autonomy, and therefore also risks being marginalized to the point of de-federation. In addition to that, as you noted, most of the candidates are not serious, but rather looking to develop voting blocks to be used for trade as the election nears. So with all of that, I’m going to adopt a wait-and-see approach on whether someone will perform better.

President Karzai probably has three main levers he can manipulate right now: first, he could postpone the elections. Second, he can endorse and assist a candidate. And third, he could allow or deny ISAF post-2014. For the record, I don’t think he’ll postpone the elections. His legitimacy as Afghanistan’s first elected and peacefully retired head of state is too much to pass up, and staying after 2014 may dramatically reduce the chances he could retire peacefully. And no one wants to accidentally overstay like Najibullah (over half of Afghan presidents die a violent death).

For the election, I think he is bidding his time. Publicly he’s mildly supporting Sayyaf, while deferential to his brother (whom the WSJ recently interviewed). This gives President Karzai flexibility if one of the two prove unpalatable, although I don’t think it’s prudent to discount Ghani or Abdullah in Karzai’s calculations yet. Sayyaf may represent a further attempt by Karzai to mollify the insurgents and their foreign benefactors, and that worries me.

Lastly, while I understand that President Karzai wants a foreign auxiliary force answerable to him and subject to Afghan law, that won’t happen, and Karzai probably knows that. In July he and General Dempsey said jointly that a deal would be made by October. Karzai’s stalling, but I’m not exactly sure for what. It could be that he just doesn’t have a clear idea of what the ANSF will look like at the end of 2014, and doesn’t want to commit to a significant ISAF presence if he doesn’t need it. It could be that he wants a solid commitment of money/equipment for Afghan forces, and ISAF won’t give him a definitive answer. And it could be because he thinks the insurgency is as robust as it is precisely because of the continued ISAF presence, and that once ISAF is gone, the insurgency will slip back into brigandry. Karzai’s more pointed criticisms of ISAF seem to indicate that viewpoint.

Oh, and the Iranians… Um, no. It will never happen with ISAF. The thaw is like a hairdryer on a glacier. Neither the U.S. nor Iran is able to melt that fast. Even if ISAF leaves Afghanistan entirely, Iranian troops coming in will be a very, very hard sell in Afghanistan. The Taliban slaughtered ten Iranian diplomats only fifteen years ago, causing Iran to mass troops on the border. Relations between the two have improved since, but enemies-of-enemies can only maintain their friendship as long as the principle enemy is present.

Hope that helps, and thanks for the comments.

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