By Stephen Lendman
Afghan elections are more farcical than fair. Fraud substitutes for a free and open process. Voters have no say.
In December 2001, Washington installed Hamid Karzai as president. He's a convenient stooge. He's a CIA asset.
Formerly he was Chevron Oil subsidiary Unocal's chief consultant. He's stepping down this year. Supposedly because of constitutional ineligibility for another term.
Changing it could keep him president longer. Earlier he vowed no third term.
On April 5, Afghans voted to replace him. Choices excluded hope and change. Or democracy. Militarized occupation assures illegitimacy. So do Washington rules.
If no aspirant wins a majority, runoff voting will follow. The two candidates with the highest vote total will participate. They'll do so on May 28.
Weeks or perhaps months will pass to know who won. It hardly matters. Afghans already lost.
Vote-rigging was prominently featured. It's longstanding Afghanistan practice. One observer calls Afghan elections more about ballot rigging and how effectively manipulators orchestrate fraud.
After September 2010 parliamentary elections, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied calling them "an important milestone on (Afghanistan's) road to becoming a full and rightful member of the community of democratic nation."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen ludicrously said the election would be "more transparent and reliable" than 2009 presidential polling.
UN Afghanistan envoy Staffan de Mistura said 2010 would "be better than last year's election." He turned truth on its head saying it.
Dozens of Karzai opponents were marginalized, threatened and disqualified. "Vetting committee" stooges did so.
Approved candidates included Karzai collaborators. Washington had final say. Illegitimacy describes Afghanistan's political process. This year is no different.
A rogue's gallery of pro-Western puppets assures business as usual. Meet the candidates. A larger field dropped to eight. Pressure forced candidates Washington wanted eliminated out.
Abdullah Abdullah is a former US-installed foreign minister. He represents business as usual. He's no populist. He supports US imperial interests.
In 2009 presidential elections, he finished second. He got 30.5% of the vote. He claimed fraud. He opted out of the runoff process. He let Karzai stay president unopposed.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a technocrat. He's a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official.
He's Kabul University chancellor. In 2009, he won 3% of the vote. How much better he'll do this time remains to be seen. Perhaps too little improvement to matter.
Qayoum Karzai earlier chose to run. Pressure forced him out of contention. He endorsed Zalmai Rassoul. More on him below.
Qayoum is Hamid's older brother. He's a businessman. His other brothers Mahmoud and the late Ahmed were involved in rampant corruption.
Hamid's regime is notoriously tainted. US supplied billions disappear into black hole tax free havens and other foreign assets. Perhaps Qayoum got his share.
Zalmal Rassoul is a former Afghan foreign minister. He resigned to run for president. Previously he was Karzai's national security advisor.
Both men maintain close ties. Perhaps he's Washington's choice. In the fullness of time we'll know.
Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf is an Afghan politician. In 2005, his Ittehad-al-Islami (Islamic Union) was transformed into a political party - the islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan.
Two days before 9/11, he was accused of involvement in Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud's assassination.
Two Arab men posing as journalists killed him. Both died. One during the attack. The other trying to escape. Taliban officials denied involvement.
Massoud was a national hero. He was independent. In the 1980s, he fought against Soviet invaders. He wanted Afghanistan freed from occupiers.
Perhaps Washington wanted him eliminated. He was reportedly closer to post-Soviet Russia and Iran than America. He wasn't the US choice for president. Eliminating him smoothed Karzai's anointment.
Qutbuddin Hilal is a former deputy prime minister and first vice president. He served in the early 1990s under President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
He earlier headed a military commission charged with uniting jihadi organizations. He's running as an independent candidate.
Hezb-e Islami political party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar endorsed him. During Soviet Russia's war on Afghanistan, Hekmatyar got active CIA support. He's now a US-designated "global terrorist."
Gul Agha Sherzai is a former warlord turned Karzai "special advisor." He served as Kandahar and Nangarhar governors.
He resigned from the latter position to run for president. He's doing so as an independent candidate. His poor human rights record is notorious.
He's suspected of involvement in opium trafficking. It's rife under Karzai. Afghanistan produces enough for over 90% of world heroin supply.
Earlier Sherzai was a mujahideen commander. During Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, both men met.
Hedayat Amin Arsala is a former Karzai foreign minister, finance minister, commerce minister and vice president. Until October 2013, he was Karzai's senior minister/advisor.
He was a National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA) founding member. He was a Supreme Council of Mujahideen official.
Earlier he headed a so-called Independent Commission of Administrative Reforms, a National Statistics Commission, and an Economic Cooperation Committee.
In 1969, he became Afghanistan's first World Bank official. In October 2013, he resigned from his senior ministerial post to run for president.
Mohammad Daoud Sultanzai is a pilot by training. In the 1980s, he lived in America. Post-9/11, he returned to Afghanistan. He served as a parliamentarian. He's a political commentator/talk show host.
Around 12 million Afghans are eligible to vote. It remains to be seen how many did. Perhaps official turnout numbers will be fraudulent.
Perhaps ballot-box stuffing will enhance them. Many Afghans want no part of rigged elections.
Around 6,000 polling centers accommodated those who do. Another thousand scheduled to open never did. Saturday was Afghanistan's third presidential election post-9/11.
Media scoundrels called it the nation's first peaceful democratic transfer of power. Truth is polar opposite.
On Saturday, The New York Times headlined "Afghans Vote in Strong Numbers Despite Dangers."
They "(b)raved cold, rain, and threats of Taliban attacks…If successful, the election will mark the first time Afghans have changed their leader at the polls in modern history…"
Doing so ends Karzai's "dozen years in power." A runoff election is virtually certain. "Even partial results (aren't) expected for a week."
Rassoul, Abdullah and Ghani are expected to be leading vote-getters. It'll take days or longer to know either way. The top two candidates will compete in May's runoff election.
Karzai voted early, saying: "I as a citizen of Afghanistan did this with happiness and pride." He spoke perhaps with tongue in cheek.
Afghanistan remains occupied. It's a cauldron of violence. Death, destruction and human misery haunt millions.
Washington bears full responsibility. Karzai shares it. He's a convenient US stooge. Whoever replaces him will serve Western, not popular interests.
Washington's criminal legacy is longstanding. It's notorious. Over 12 years of war left millions dead. Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them.
Many others suffer horrifically. America turned Afghanistan into a savage wasteland. Hegemons aren't responsible nation-builders. They have other priorities.
No end of conflict looms. Perhaps another decade or longer will follow. Expect it as long as America is involved.
Its legacy left over half of all Afghan children suffering from severe malnutrition. An entire generation is affected. Millions live under deplorable conditions.
Violence, hunger, homelessness, disease epidemics, poor sanitation, and environmental contamination affect them. So do unsafe water as well as inadequate healthcare, education and other vital services.
Millions of refugees remain internally or externally displaced. Women are horrifically treated. Many, including young girls, are beaten, raped or murdered.
Humanitarian assistance enough to matter is sorely lacking. Children die from exposure to bitter winter cold.
America's war claims thousands more. Air and ground attacks are responsible. Deaths mount daily.
Civilians suffer most. They're killed indiscriminately. Horrific incidents go largely unreported. Afghan lives and welfare don't matter.
US war crimes persist daily. Death by drones murder civilian men, women and children. So do ground assaults.
Deaths, injuries, torture and other atrocities reflect daily life. Ordinary Afghans suffer most. US aggression is one of history's greatest crimes.
Afghans are some of the world's most long-suffering people in modern times. Washington bears full responsibility for ravaging and destroying their country.
Don't expect post-election change. Don't expect a new US puppet any different from Karzai.
Don't expect withdrawing more Pentagon troops to help. Militarized occupation remains official US policy.
Over 100,000 private military contractors infest Afghanistan. They're a hostile occupying force.
They'll remain indefinitely. They serve American and other Western interests, not Afghan ones.
They're US military surrogates. They operate extrajudicially. They do so with impunity. They're unaccountable for human rights violations.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent maintaining them. They do far more harm than good.
America's Afghanistan legacy is deplorable. It reflects millions of lost lives. It includes unspeakable human misery.
It's about trillions of wasted dollars. Afghanistan under militarized occupation resembles hell on earth. Staying alive is a daily struggle.
Extreme poverty, unemployment, and deprivation affect all aspects of people's lives. Afghanistan's human development indicators are among the world's worst.
Over 12 years of war and militarized occupation left millions hugely denied. Throughout his tenure, Karzai was a caricature of a leader.
He lacks legitimacy. He's widely despised. He won't be missed. Without heavy round-the clock protection, he wouldn't last a day on his own.
He profited hugely from Afghanistan's elicit drugs trade. So did other corrupt officials around him.
In October 2001, America arrived violently. It did so to conquer, colonize, occupy, plunder and dominate Afghanistan.
It's a geopolitical prize. At issue is controlling Eurasia's vast oil, gas and other resources.
Afghanistan has its own riches. It has vast natural gas and other mineral reserves. They include copper, lithium, iron, cobalt and gold.
It has the world’s largest opium supply. It floods world markets with heroin. It provides enormous profits for Wall Street. It gives CIA access to billions of dollars in elicit drug money.
Occupied Afghanistan is America's strategically located land-based aircraft carrier. It's part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China with bases.
Both nations are Washington's only global challengers. China is the world's second largest economy.
In a decade or less it may surpass America. Russia is a formidable military power. It's the only nation able challenge Pentagon might.
It has enormous oil and gas reserves. China badly needs them. Both nations benefit strategically by allying.
Doing so weakens Washington longterm. America came to Afghanistan to stay. Abandoning what's geopolitically important won't happen. Not short-term at least.
How much longer Americans put up with permanent wars and occupations at the expense of homeland needs remains to be seen. Mass/sustained public opposition alone can end them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
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