Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 28th, 2020

What will be the post US Election Scenarios in Afghanistan?

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What will be the post US Election Scenarios  in Afghanistan?

Given the escalation of war throughout the country and deadlock in intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, everyone is worried about the future of the country. People ask what the next scenario for Afghanistan.  Although responding to this question is not an easy job, but when we look at the past the US presidential election is highly effective on the politics of Afghanistan and so Afghan politicians are impatiently waiting for the outcome of the US presidential election. In 2016, initially it was deemed that Hillary Clinton would win the election and she would continue the Obama’s policies. Therefore, there was a supposition that the National Unity Government, as the culmination of American foreign policy, would enjoy the unwavering support of Democrats. But the unexpected US election outcome put the leaders of the National Unity Government in a new position which led to many ups and downs in mutual relation of the two countries; especially the US-Taliban peace talks imposed new conditions on Afghanistan’s political conditions.
Similar to the 2016 the condition, in 2020 the Afghanistan’s politics is highly affected by the US presidential election with the rivalry between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The upcoming US election outcome would not only impact on Afghanistan but also on many parts of the world. That’s why Iran and Russia was recently blamed for interferences in US election though it was abruptly rejected by Iranian officials. Because of certain dependencies, Afghanistan will be more vulnerable than other countries. The basic assessment shows that Biden is in a preceding status but given the America’s special electoral system, predicting the winner is not easy. What is predictable is that winning any of the US presidential candidates could have a significant impact on Afghan politics. That’s why Taliban unexpectedly declares its support from Trump wishing him win the election while on the other hand there are worries about his ambivalent policies if he win the election. However, some analysts believe that there are no fundamental differences between Democratic and Republican parties in the long-term policies but there are minor differences in tactics. This article tries to briefly review the future scenarios of the US foreign policy in Afghanistan with the victory of each candidate.
If the current president of the United States Donald Trump win the US election, his policy is seemingly clear toward Afghanistan. He would continue negotiation policy with Taliban and other countries in the region and eventually find a dignified way for a withdrawal from Afghanistan. He frequently made it clear that the fight against terrorism in the region is not the responsibility of the United States and those countries in the region should play a more prominent role in this fight. Some analysts add another possibility that Trump is aiming to leave a security quagmire for his rival countries in the region. Perhaps the Trump administration has come to the conclusion that the complexity of the security dilemma in Afghanistan and the region is such that a greater presence could put more financial pressure on the United States, and that the Taliban’s relationship with the regional countries has breached the consensus on counterterrorism; therefore the US spending on regional security has lost its logic.
The Khalilzad’s complex, vague and intensive negotiations with the Taliban, the Afghan government, political forces and regional countries showed the determination of US foreign policy to reach an agreement with the Taliban in any way possible. And the peace agreement which was signed between the two sides, Trump proclaimed it as a victory of his foreign policy hoping to use it as a winning card during election campaign, but the current deadlock between Afghan government negotiators and Taliban and the increasing carnage in Afghanistan does not show to reach his expectation as reflected in the primary poll assessment. Seemingly, now Donald Trump does not have a big achievement from his four year of presidency to convince the American people.
In case of his victory, there are two strong prospects for the future of US foreign policy. The first scenario there would be a gradual withdrawal with creation of a new government with the participation of the Taliban but such a one-sided scenario could create another confrontation between regional countries and the Afghan internal forces as recent politicians trips to India and Pakistan could be interpreted in that course; therefore it could be considered as a low probability of occurrence. The second scenario is the failure of current peace talks in Doha and a return to the US-Taliban military confrontation as last two decades. Such a scenario could happen if we see the peace talks as a tactical move to win the election. On the other hand, so far, the Taliban disappointedly stress on establishment of the Islamic Emirate style government with showing no desire to share power while maintaining the achievements of the post-Bonn conference which could easily overturn the first scenario and strengthen the second scenario. The recent aerial support from national forces in Helmand province and also the recent NATO Secretary General could be interpreted in the course of this scenario.
In case of Joe Biden victory in US presidential election, there is no clear prediction as he is the only American politician who has expressed controversial views on Afghanistan. Once he described Afghanistan as three separate regions bio-socially. In his view, solving the Afghan security dilemma requires accepting such a fact. He also said that the US task in Afghanistan is not nation building. According to such views, if Joe Biden wins, he would have two possible scenarios. First; Biden will amend the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban. He and the Democratic Party are likely to push harder to persuade the Taliban to accept Afghanistan’s current political system. In case of failure in this scenario, as second scenario, he may try to establish a decentralized system in the country. With giving some advantages to Pakistan, he will deploy anti-terrorists forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There also possibilities of other scenarios depending on post US election conditions. Anyway, the people Afghanistan will support US presence or policy as long as it truly considers mutual interests of both countries and put an end to the senseless war in the country.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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