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Elites' ‘Selfishness’ Stymied Afghan Political Change: Khalilzad

The former US special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad said the Afghan elites’ selfishness led to the failure of political transformation.

Talking to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Khalilzad said the corruption and selfishness of the Afghan elites caused Afghanistan to not transform politically, despite the "golden" opportunity provided.

“We did not transform the politics to have an enlightened national interest focused on elites serving their people. They became very selfish, self-centered, corrupt and failed in that mission” he said.

Khalilzad, however, said the US was successful in transforming the Afghan society in terms of education and building infrastructure. “The elites that we worked with, they didn’t rise to the occasion, this golden opportunity, that the American engagement provided. The state and nation building, institution building that we supported massively did not succeed in the way we succeeded in terms of dismantling terrorism, in transforming Afghan society and in terms of education.”

According to Khalilzad, the US was disappointed by President Ashraf Ghani’s insistence on staying in power and this led to pessimism in President Joe Biden’s administration about a political settlement in Afghanistan. He said the pessimism led to pursuing a time-based withdrawal rather than a condition-based withdrawal.

“We were all surprised by the intransigence, frankly, of President Ghani insisting on staying in power until his term ended despite the fact that he had been reelected in a fraudulent election that very few Afghans participated in,” Khalilzad said.  

Khalilzad said the corruption among the Afghan elites also caused the people to not believe in the system and the soldiers not to risk their lives. “The performance of Afghan security forces, I think, was another surprise. I think very few people would have anticipated that this force of 300,000 facing a force of 60,000 to 70,000, with all the equipment and having American military support, disintegrated and did not fight,” he said.

Khalilzad also said the Islamic Emirate wants normalized relations with the US and US economic assistance. He said normalization of relations needs the Islamic Emirate to fulfill its commitments. “We need to sit with them to agree to a roadmap that takes into account the issue of our mistrust of each other and therefore the behavior that we expect to take place over a time period.”

Elites' ‘Selfishness’ Stymied Afghan Political Change: Khalilzad

The former US peace envoy said Afghan elites’ corruption and self-centered approach prevented the building of a national interests-based politics in Afghanistan.

تصویر بندانگشتی

The former US special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad said the Afghan elites’ selfishness led to the failure of political transformation.

Talking to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Khalilzad said the corruption and selfishness of the Afghan elites caused Afghanistan to not transform politically, despite the "golden" opportunity provided.

“We did not transform the politics to have an enlightened national interest focused on elites serving their people. They became very selfish, self-centered, corrupt and failed in that mission” he said.

Khalilzad, however, said the US was successful in transforming the Afghan society in terms of education and building infrastructure. “The elites that we worked with, they didn’t rise to the occasion, this golden opportunity, that the American engagement provided. The state and nation building, institution building that we supported massively did not succeed in the way we succeeded in terms of dismantling terrorism, in transforming Afghan society and in terms of education.”

According to Khalilzad, the US was disappointed by President Ashraf Ghani’s insistence on staying in power and this led to pessimism in President Joe Biden’s administration about a political settlement in Afghanistan. He said the pessimism led to pursuing a time-based withdrawal rather than a condition-based withdrawal.

“We were all surprised by the intransigence, frankly, of President Ghani insisting on staying in power until his term ended despite the fact that he had been reelected in a fraudulent election that very few Afghans participated in,” Khalilzad said.  

Khalilzad said the corruption among the Afghan elites also caused the people to not believe in the system and the soldiers not to risk their lives. “The performance of Afghan security forces, I think, was another surprise. I think very few people would have anticipated that this force of 300,000 facing a force of 60,000 to 70,000, with all the equipment and having American military support, disintegrated and did not fight,” he said.

Khalilzad also said the Islamic Emirate wants normalized relations with the US and US economic assistance. He said normalization of relations needs the Islamic Emirate to fulfill its commitments. “We need to sit with them to agree to a roadmap that takes into account the issue of our mistrust of each other and therefore the behavior that we expect to take place over a time period.”

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