Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hanif Atmar, resigned on Saturday. He supported president Ghani in 2014 presidential elections and was appointed as the national security adviser of Afghanistan by Ashraf Ghani and signed the bilateral strategic Agreement between the United States of America and Afghanistan. He was one of the most influential advisers to President Ashraf Ghani and was widely considered to be the second-most powerful official in Afghanistan.
Why Atmar resigned now
Political analysts have contradicting views on what motives made Atmar to resign. They doubt if he has resigned due to differences he had with the government on political level, as well as their approach to maintaining peace and stability in the country. They hold that the political policy of the government and the peace and stability approaches in the country have not changed dramatically since 2014 when president Ghani assumed office in Afghanistan. Thus, different reasons have been mentioned for his resignation
that some of them include:
First, many observers believe Atmar’s resignation is his first move in a plan to run for the presidency in next year’s elections. Atmar as one of the closest and second most powerful men in the country could make teams in different sectors in Afghanistan. These teams will support him in the coming presidential elections. He may not have the chance to win the elections but will play a critical role in dividing the ballots that can play a critical role in turning the elections results to the favor of Ashraf Ghani in the coming elections as it is expected he may be challenged by a powerful rival of a Tajik presidential candidate. This will prevent the elections to go to the second round and to prevent speculating widespread electoral fraud and likely political violence in the country.
Second, Atmar, who began his security career with the Soviet Union-backed government in the late 1980s, is still seen as close to Russia. As he has pointed out grave differences on peace and stability with the leadership of Government have been the cause of his resignation. As the peace process and stability are the main concerns of the United States and allies in Afghanistan, and Russia, China and south Asian countries are increasingly taking roles in the process, the United States and allies may had concerns about the process mainly channeled and led by the National Security Adviser of the Afghan president. Thus, U.S. military commanders recently had acknowledged that little progress was being made on the battlefield or at the peace table despite a reported meeting last month between a U.S. diplomat and Taliban leaders to explore possible negotiations. Further, Trump, had expressed frustration that U.S. forces still seem so far from withdrawal after 17 years of war. In a policy shift during a June cease-fire, Washington said it would “support, facilitate, and participate” in any Kabul government-led peace talks with the Taliban. But, such a policy shift required new leadership. Political analysts assume that The White House and the State Department appointed Khalilzad as the US special envoy on Afghanistan to lead Afghan peace process. They say Atmar and Khalilzad have contradicting interests and viewpoints on many issues of Afghanistan including the peace process. As a result they were not able to work together; and also the USA does not trust Atmar due to his background and previous relations with the Russia and the United Kingdom.
Third, some political analysts hold that as there is widening differences between the NUG leadership and deep divisions among the United States, England and Russia and continued conflicts between India and Pakistan and complicated political games of the Afghan neighboring and regional powers have further complicated the situation in Afghanistan. Also, political tensions are mounting in the country; people are increasingly disappointed from the government and insecurity is threatening nearly all parts of the country. They hold that such uncertain future may force the regional and international players in Afghanistan to form a temporary government until the presidential elections in 2019 and Hanif Atmar would head the temporary government.
Deterioration of security in different parts of the country, beginning the new phase of peace process in Afghanistan by appointment of Khalilzad as the special envoy of the US, presidential elections and Atmar’s background with Russia and England are the factors that have been influential on Atnar’s resignation. Resignation of Atmar will have specific effects on the security and peace process in Afghanistan. As a result, we will witness a turning point in the peace and security in the country.