The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

July 12, 2014

Kerry trying to make peace between feuding Afghan candidates

KABUL, Afghanistan — Secretary of State John Kerry sought Friday to broker a deal between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates as a bitter dispute over last month’s runoff election threatened to spiral out of control.

Kerry, who arrived before dawn in Kabul on a hastily arranged visit, met with former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah as well as with the current leader, President Hamid Karzai.

The objective was to convince both candidates to hold off on declaring victory or trying to set up a government until the United Nations can conduct an audit of extensive fraud allegations in the voting.

“We are in a very, very critical moment for Afghanistan,” Kerry told reporters as he met with the U.N. chief in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis. “Legitimacy hangs in the balance. The future potential of the transition hangs in the balance. So we’ve a lot of work to do.”

For the United States, the political crisis threatens to undermine more than a decade of efforts to leave behind a strong Afghanistan capable of containing the Taliban insurgency and preventing extremist groups like al-Qaida from using the territory to endanger the American homeland.

Kerry said the United States was trying to create a process that confers legitimacy on whoever emerges as the rightful leader of Afghanistan. “But I can’t tell you that’s an automatic at this point,” he said.

With Iraq consumed by insurgency, Afghanistan’s election is posing a new challenge to President Barack Obama’s effort to leave behind two secure states while ending America’s long wars.

Both Ghani and Abdullah have vowed to sign a bilateral security pact with Washington, which says it needs the legal guarantees in order to leave behind some 10,000 boots on the ground in Afghanistan after most American troops are withdrawn at the end of the year.

If no clear leader emerges, the U.S. may have to pull out all its forces, an unwanted scenario that played out in Iraq just three years ago. Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, leaving it in the hands of his successor.

The preliminary runoff results suggested a massive turnaround in favor of the onetime World Bank economist Ghani, who lagged significantly behind Abdullah in first-round voting.

“Our commitment is to ensure that the election process has the integrity and the legitimacy of Afghanistan and the world,” Ghani told reporters as he met with Kerry. Ghani voiced support for the fullest audit possible.

Abdullah, a top leader of the Northern Alliance that battled the Taliban before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, claims massive ballot-stuffing, and his supporters have spoken of establishing a “parallel government,” raising the specter of the Afghan state collapsing. Abdullah was runner-up to Karzai in a fraud-riddled 2009 presidential vote before he pulled out of that runoff.

“The future of our achievement depends on the success of the democratic process,” Abdullah said as he began his meeting with the secretary of state. Abdullah praised Kerry’s efforts toward “saving the democratic process in Afghanistan.”  

The winner amid all the chaos could be the Taliban, whose fight against the government persists despite the United States spending hundreds of billions of dollars and losing more than 2,000 lives since invading the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Many Afghans fear Taliban forces will only gain strength as the U.S. military presence recedes. And internal instability could fuel the insurgency.

Kerry said Afghanistan needed a leader “recognized by the people as having become president through a legitimate process.” With Abdullah at his side, he stressed that the preliminary results announced four days ago “are neither authoritative nor final, and no one should be stating a victory at this point in time.”

A U.N. audit, however rudimentary, probably could be done within two weeks, U.S. officials believe. The focus would be on clear fraud indicators, including districts with high turnout or more women going to the voting polls than men.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video