Tag Archives: John Kerry

The Poison in Afghanistan Politics

KABUL, Afghanistan -- American Secretary of State John Kerry Shakes Hands With Afghan Presidential Candidates Abdullah and Ghani on August 8, 2014. U.S. State Department photo, Public Domain

KABUL, Afghanistan — American Secretary of State John Kerry with Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, then Afghan Presidential Candidates, August 8, 2014. Their back room deal over-rode Afghans democratic exercise, in which millions defied threats to have their votes cast, writes Manthorpe. U.S. State Department photo, Public Domain

Afghanistan’s unity deal contains poisonous seeds which will pollute the country’s politics, writes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. Afghans turned out in their millions, defying Taliban and other threats, to have their votes cast. Ghani, Abdullah, with Kerry and other outsiders as handmaidens, over-rode that democratic exercise, argues Manthorpe. “Their backroom deal keeps at the hub of power all the corrupt and often brutal regional warlords and dispensers of patronage who have blighted Afghan politics.” An excerpt of his new F&O column, Afghan unity deal ensures future conflict (subscription):

As rival candidates for power in Afghanistan signed a power-sharing deal on Sunday, an understandable sigh of relief swept through the corridors of power in those countries that have expended troops and treasure in the last dozen years trying to get the central Asian nation on its feet.

In the six months since the first round of the presidential elections it looked as though the whole Afghan project might collapse into new chaos as the two main candidates, former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, exchanged increasingly bitter allegations of vote-rigging.

It has taken vigorous and persistent arm-twisting by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and many others to bludgeon Ghani and Abdullah to agree to a government of national unity. Under the pact, Ghani will be President and Abdullah has been given the authority to appoint a Chief Executive – essentially a Prime Minister – a job he is likely to grab himself.

However, the details of the deal contain poisonous seeds, which will pollute the new Afghan political process in coming years, and probably within months. An early indication of the troubles ahead came with Abdullah’s insistence that the results of the United Nations-supervised audit by the Independent Election Commission of the results of June’s run-off vote for the presidency not be published …. read Afghan unity deal ensures future conflict (Log in first; subscription or day pass* required)

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Saudi Prince who Charmed and Smarmed is Sacked

International affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe has reported on the doings of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, since the prince was a fixture in the American administrations of Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. “Many saw him as a pernicious influence on these Republican administrations,” writes Manthorpe in today’s column — especially in the hours after 9/11. His new column examines why the prince’s career finally hit the skids — and the role of Syria. An excerpt:

The sacking of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is public acknowledgement that the strategy for ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad has not only failed, but spawned a new generation of skilled Islamic terrorists.

The departure of Prince Bandar on Wednesday was announced in a brief statement from the royal palace of Saudi King Adbullah, the prince’s uncle. It is the end of a career that has been a major influence on relations with the United States and Washington’s approach to the Middle East for several decades.

For 22 years until 2005, Prince Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to Washington. He charmed and smarmed his way into close relations with both President Ronald Reagan and both presidents George Bush. Indeed, he became such a fixture in the retinues of those administrations that he was often called “Bandar Bush.”

Log in to read today’s column: Saudi Arabia sacks troublesome intelligence chief Prince Bandar. (Subscription or day pass required*)

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s page, with all of his columns for F&O.

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Chinese imperialism ignored amid Ukraine-Russia debate

The outpouring from the West of shock and outrage over Russia’s actions in Ukraine has been … “entertaining,” writes international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. The reaction to Russia is especially bizarre given there really is a colonial, expansionist power afoot in the world – and Russia may well be one of its targets.

The sound and fury aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin in the last few days has been vastly entertaining. But it was evident from the start that, as Ukraine sank into internal chaos, Putin would ensure the security of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the continuation of the 1997 agreement under which Moscow maintains a naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. Yet other events on the other side of the world in the last few days should have alerted American Secretary of State John Kerry, Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird and all the preened diplomats of the European Union that there is a would-be imperial power at work, a power which already occupies large colonial possessions and is hungry for more. That power is not Russia, but China.

Log in to read the column, Beijing, not Moscow, is the home of imperialism.*

*Jonathan Manthorpe’s columns are available to monthly subscribers or with a $1 day pass to Facts and Opinions. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes.

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Analysis: Iran and United States join forces against common foes

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe writes on the sea-change in the Middle East as Tehran and Washington find common cause and turmoil grows in Iraq and Syria. Excerpt:

As al-Qaida-linked groups hijack the anti-government insurgencies in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, Washington is finding itself making common cause with its old enemy, Iran, and exciting the anger of its traditional ally, Saudi Arabia.

This tectonic shift in Middle Eastern alliances stems from two decisions made by the administration of President Barack Obama in the closing months of last year.

Washington is now finding itself in the previously unthinkable position of leaning more towards the Shiite factions of Islam, led by Iran, and turning away from the purist Sunni factions led by Saudi Arabia.

The first of Obama’s decisions that propelled this shift was his response after United Nations investigators claimed the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran whose followers belong to the Shiite Alawite sect, had used chemical weapons against rebel insurgents and civilians.

Log in to read the column, Common enemies draw Washington and Tehran closer, here.*

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