26.01.2015 (06.11.1393)

The new Afghan cabinet: bringing back the communists versus the old strongmen and Mujahidin

Writer and Analyst: Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen

In the newly nominated cabinet, long-standing strongmen from Panjsher have suffered the biggest loss. Over the past 13 years, political elites from Panjsher used to keep the most important portfolios to themselves. That is not the case this time. Similarly, Parwan also had important officials within the government in the past. They have also suffered as did provinces such as Takhar. To Pansheris, only the ministry of Public Health is given this time.

In the structure of the Interim Government there were 34.5 % Pashtuns, 38 % Tajiks, 17.2 % Hazaras, and 10.2 % Uzbeks. There were 29 posts in the cabinet, including the president and the vice presidents.

The Vice President and the Defense Minister Fahim, the Minister of Interior Qanuni, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdullah all were Tajiks, specifically from Panjsher. Meanwhile the NDS was controlled by Mohammad Arif Sarwari, who, too, was from Panjsher area.

During the Transitional Government there were 54.3 % Pashtuns, 20 % Tajiks, 14.4 % Hazaras, and 11.4 % Uzbeks. And there were 35 posts in the cabinet, including the president and the vice presidents.

The Vice President and the Defense Minister Fahim, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah, and the Minister of Education Qanuni were Tajiks from Panjsher. Since October 2001 to February 2004 the NDS was with Mohammad Arif Sarwari.

In the first round of ex-president Hamid Karzai (2004-2009) elected government, the percentage of the ethnic groups was not stable, neither were the ministries. During these five years, some of the ministries hired and fired five ministers and some of them four.

The First Vice President Ahmad Zia Masood, the Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah were from Panjsher, after one year the minister of the Interior Zarar Ahmad was from Parwan (2005-2008). Meanwhile the Defense Minister was Rahim Wardak, but the responsibilities and authorities were all with the Chief of the Army Bismillah Mohammadi, who was from Panjsher.

The head of the parliament, who was Yunus Qanuni, the ministry of Interior and the NDS were controlled by Panjsheri figures.

The Head of NDS Amrullah Salih (February 2004 – June 2010) was removed from his position while a rocket attack targeted on President Karzai while he arrived to the tent of Loya Jirga for the speech, and the rocket exploded close to him.

Ismail Khan was also moved away from his favorite post, the governor of Herat, to the ministry of water and electricity in Kabul.

In the second round of ex-president Karzai (2009-2014) the balance of ethnic distribution of power was not stable, neither were the ministries, the same like Karzai’s first round. Some of the ministries experienced replacement of the ministers for four times and some of those replaced for three times during the five years of the second round of the presidency.

The First Vice President was Qasim Fahim, the ministers of defense was Rahim Wardak, and later on Bismillah Mohammadi, the Foreign Affairs ministers were Zalmai Rasool and later on Zarar Ahmad Muqbil, the ministers of the interior were Atmar, Mohammadi, Patang and Davodzai, the minister of Rural Rehabilitations and Development was Wais Barmak, and the head of NDS were Amrullah Saleh and then Rahmatullah Nabil.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 up to date, the governor of Balkh is Tajik Atta Mohammad Noor, with whom Dostum’s rivalry is still remaining.

Since 18 Sep 2010, the head of the parliament is Abdul Raouf Ebrahimi

The current cabinet, which declared after approximately three and a half month of Ashraf Ghani’s government, in the first list of the cabinet dated 12 Jan 2015, there were 25 candidate ministers, which 40 % of them were Pashtuns, 28 % were Tajiks, 16 % Hazaras, 12 % Uzbeks and 4 % of them were Turkmens.

13 of the candidate ministers have been introduced by President Ashraf Ghani and 12 of them were introduced by Abdullah, the head of the NDS was accepted by both, the head of the Afghanistan Bank was introduced by the president and both of them are Pashtuns.

In this cabinet, there were not candidate ministers from some insecure provinces like Helmand, Paktia, Kunar, Nuristan, Saripul, and Ghor.

About ten of the candidate ministers are old communists from the People Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (PDPA), and there are many technocrats and Western- supported candidate ministers.

Among the candidate ministers 12 of them are dual citizens, some reports say that 11 of them and some others say that 13 of them are dual citizens, from whom five of them have citizenship of the U.S.

Due to unknown reasons, the candidate minister of the ministry of finance canceled his candidacy for the ministry. Some reports say that he was not able to fulfill the demands of the MPs, and some says that president asked him to cancel his candidacy.

The second candidate minister was Yaqub Haidari, who was candidate minister for the ministry of agriculture, he was rejected because he was one of the wanted of Interpol, because he did not pay taxes in Estonia and he is sentenced for four years of imprisonment in Estonia.

The third one was Mahmood Saiqal, who did not want to lose his dual citizenship, so he canceled his candidacy for the post of ministry, although he himself has said that the reason for withdrawing from the portfolio was to give the slot to Heratis, who were not offered any job in the new cabinet.

In the new cabinet there are many candidate ministers who have completed their education in Britain, meanwhile the head of the security council and the first two governors that are introduced by the new government, have friendly relationships with Britain.

The role of the U.S. and Britain in the selection of the cabinet and the governors is crystal clear, some analysts say that the U.S. has handed over the management of Afghanistan to UK.

With the declaration of the new cabinet, the former Mujahidin leaders were shocked, and they think of resorting to other ways in protest to their decreased role.

Former Mujahidin say that the major part of the cabinet is given to their former rivals, the communists, especially the security related ministries and security departments.

It is difficult that the former Mujahidin and former communists will accept each other, because they still remember the bad memories of war during the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. The bitterness between former Mujahidin and the new cabinet where communists have heave presence will benefit hugely the Taliban. The mujahidin will be an effective force to discredit the government and support the Taliban’s claim and cause.

On 21 Jan 2015, Lower house decided to remove the candidacy of 7 ministers and the head of the Afghanistan Bank, but some other MPs opposed their decision. And on 24 Jan 2015 the MoFA stated three nominated ministers (Olumi MoI, Rabbani MoFA and Nadri MoW&L) cancelled their dual citizenship. Seems they will be added again to the list of cabinet.

The current structure is 31.25 Pashtuns, 31.25 Tajiks, 18.75 Hazaras, 12.5 Uzbeks, and 6.25 Turkmens, which is not yet finalized.

There are some rumors that Abdullah’s team will try that some of the ministers that are introduced by its team, especially the candidate minister of Interior Noorulhaq Olumi, will not get vote of confidence from the parliament.

Recent reports say that the heads of the unity government attempts to reintroduce the 7 candidate ministers and the head of the Afghanistan Bank with the acceptance of the parliament.

There are also rumors inside the parliament that all the candidate ministers with dual citizenship should stay and not be removed.

In the past, the MPs were getting money, maybe they will try the same trick this time too. Currently, out of the 12 candidate ministers they have outright rejected seven of them. Maybe there is a deal done behind closed doors. It seems that the conflict between the cabinet and the parliament may take time; but, if the MPs get enough privileges, it will be solved soon. If it is required maybe the U.S. and British embassies will intervene and will solve the conflict.

The team members and heads of the team of Abdullah are angry and disenchanted with him. The former minister of defense Bismillah Mohammadi, the former vice president Yunus Qanuni, former head of the IEC Fazel Ahmad Manawi, the former head of NDS Amrullah Saleh, and Adib Fahim son of Marshal Fahim asked Abdullah that why the share of Panjsher is decreased in the cabinet, did he accept only a simple ministry? Meanwhile, the MPs of Abdullah’s team are also angry with him.

On the other hand, most of the campaigners of President Ghani are also angry with the president, because their demands and requests were not accepted in the candidacy of the cabinet.

But the important issue is that the candidacy of the cabinet was under the control of foreigners, neither Abdullah nor Ashraf Ghani had important role in it. If it is not accepted by the U.S. it is difficult that they will introduce their friends for the candidacy to the cabinet.

From the team of Abdullah namely; Professor Sayyaf, Ismail Khan, Satar Murad, Manawi, Qanuni, Mohammadi, Arif Sarwari, and Adib Fahim; on the other hand, Sibghatullah Mujaddidi, Pir Gailani, Amin Wiqad, and the members of the councils of Hisb-e-Islami are also sad and they have chosen chocked condition.

Qayoum Kochai, the uncle of President Ghani, whose proposal for the candidacy of the ministry of foreign affairs was not accepted, returned back to the U.S.

The members of both teams think that former communist Hanif Atmar is moving the wheel of the government and Dostum is supporting him.

In the current government and the first list of the candidates of the cabinet the first vice president Dostum, the head of the security council Hanif Atmar, the candidate for the ministry of defense Sher Mohammad Karimi, the candidate for the ministry of interior Noorulhaq Olumi, the candidate minister of transport Faizullah Zaki, the candidate minister of economy Oghli, the candidate minister of information and culture Aya Sultan Khairi, the candidate minister of work and public affairs Mansoor Naderi, the candidate minister of Information technology and communication Barna Karimi, the candidate minister of education Zalmai Younusi, the candidate minister of agriculture Yaqub Haidari, and the candidate minister of Hajj and Religious affairs Faiz Mohammad Osmani are former communist supporters. (Three of the names need to be certify).

If we compare the current set up with the interim, transitional, first round and second round of Karzai’s regime, a huge difference is visible. The famous ministers of Panjsher are out of the government and Hazaras and Uzbeks are more involved compared to Tajiks.

One of the important things Ashraf Ghani has done is that he convinced Abdullah that the former ministers would not be introduced in the new government, this is a great job, and Ghani has used a nice trick. But, is it possible that the power holder former ministers will keep quite?

In last thirteen years, it is the first time that the first vice president is Uzbek and the second vice president is Hazara, but the Chief Executive is Tajik and some Tajiks call him Pashtun, but it is clear that he represents Tajiks, and for great advices the great advisor Zia Masoud is also Tajik.

In the parliament, there are members of Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Hazara MPs working together in an alliance against the Tajiks. Alternatively, some MPs may act against President Ghani and may not give vote of confidence to the ministers that are introduced by President Ghani.

But in both the situations, formers communist supporters have the chance to get vote of confidence from the parliament, they have done too much work in last thirteen years and have gained most of advantage from the internal conflicts of former Islamic parties.

Nominees in the current cabinet lack popular support on national, tribal or regional levels. If the foreigners want to dismiss those ministers by Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah, so they can dismiss those ministers. Similarly the new governors that are introduced and will be introduced are also from the same type of personalities, who does not have national, local and tribal support.

During Karzai’s regime, dismissing the high ranking officials from governmental positions was difficult. Dismissing Marshal Fahim, Bismillah Mohammadi, Rahim Wardak, Yunus Qanooni, who were ministers, meanwhile dismissing the governor of Balkh Ata Mohammad Noor, Governor of Ningarhar Gul Agha Sherzai, Governor of Paktia Juma Khan Hamdard, and dismissing some other governors was not easy.

Some MPs are also dual citizens, the residence/VISA of Dubai is in the pocket of every MP, minister, deputy minister, governor, governor assistant, ANA and ANP generals, and the provincial department directors. Even they have taken residency cards/VISA of the UAE to all their family members. It is necessity that the Dubai residency (3Years VISA) of the Afghan officials should be also ended.

The idea of decreasing space between the presidential palace and the mosque is also not true. There is not even a single Sunni Muslim Scholar in all the cabinet, even the ministry of Justice and the ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs are not given to religious well knowledgeable religious scholars.

There are questions like; will be there some governors elected from Imams of Masjids and religious scholars or not? And if they are chosen as governors, will be those scholars supporting the government or not?

Some analysts say that the U.S. and Britain wanted to give an end to the political opposition of the Northern Alliances, so they shared power between Ghani and Abdullah, and it is possible that this opposition role will be occupied by Hamid Karzai.

Disillusionment with the government and the new structures will be to the most advantage of the Taliban. They will establish secret contacts with the unhappy elements in the political elite, especially those unhappy with the two ruling team. These unhappy figures will also try to make contacts with the Taliban and help them in their opposition to the government.


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