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AFGHANISTAN'S ELECTION: A PIVOTAL MOMENT?

AFGHANISTAN'S ELECTION: A PIVOTAL MOMENT?

It was supposed to be a moment of progress and national renewal. But as Afghans head to the polls on Saturday for long-delayed elections in which 2,500 candidates are contending for 249 seats in parliament, their country is struggling with a litany of challenges – Gabe breaks it down for you:


Seventeen years after the United States led an invasion meant to uproot the Taliban and create conditions for a new national government, violence persists, central authority is weak outside of the capital, and a resurgent Taliban controls large swaths of the country. The political situation is badly fractured – following an inconclusive presidential election in 2014, Afghanistan has been governed by a tenuous US-backed power sharing arrangement between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who holds the post of “chief executive.”

Tomorrow’s elections were originally scheduled for 2015, but violence and political bickering made that impossible. Although security has improved in some areas, around a third of polling places across the country will not even be open on Saturday because it’s too dangerous. So far, at least 10 candidates running for office have been killed, including a parliamentary candidate who died on Wednesday from a bomb planted under his office chair.

One way to stem the violence would be a peace deal between the government and the Taliban. But despite an unprecedented ceasefire earlier this year, the prospect for peace seems far off. While the Trump administration is interested in brokering a peace, Kabul is wary of working through Washington—a precondition for the Taliban, who refuses to negotiate directly with the Afghan government. President Ghani will be increasingly reluctant to risk a politically costly peace process whose results are uncertain as he looks toward reelection next year.

Saturday’s vote could prove a step in the right direction. The fact that the unity government is finally allowing the election to take place suggests it may finally be ready to agree on long-stalled electoral reforms that would enable a smoother and more transparent presidential election next year. As for the election itself, younger Afghans are running for office in droves and a new generation is turning out to vote in an effort to bring fresh energy to government and to put an end to the country’s endemic corruption.

After years of delay, it’s a good sign that Afghans will finally get an opportunity to cast their ballots. Whether the vote ushers in much-needed change for a nation beset by challenges remains to be seen.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

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"A continuing rape of our country."

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So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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