Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fawzia Koofi In 2014.

"My plan is to run for the presidency in 2014. One has to make a choice: I could flee to the UK or America with my daughters and watch the situation, watch my country go where the traditional leaders want, or stay here and make a small contribution. I've decided to go for the second choice."

This is no stunt. Fawzai Koofi could actually pull it off. She would need to mobilize a winning coalition of parties and politicians behind her, and that won't be easy. But there are several compelling reasons to believe she could do it.

The young MP from Badakhshan is already one of Afghanistan's most trusted politicians. She's already the deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga. She's a tireless worker, she's probably the most widely respected woman in Afghanistan, she's an increasingly familiar face on Afghan news and public affairs television programs, and she's enormously popular.

This will come as a surprise to people who imagine Afghanistan to be an incorrigibly misogynistic backwater, but Afghans trust women in politics. Even though women are guaranteed a 25 per cent quota of the seats in the Wolesi Jirga, many women don't need it. Female politicians tend to be poll-toppers in Afghanistan. In the recent parliamentary elections, Fawzia got more votes than any other woman in the country.

Afghans have quickly come to understand that if you want something done in Kabul, you go to a woman. It is not as though all the men in parliament are warlords and decrepit old backstairs-men who run the place like Tammany Hall, but old habits die hard. Cronyism and the bakshish traditions of the kulan naffar have persisted into Afghanistan's embryonic democracy. Women are not new to Afghan politics - women were cabinet ministers before the mujahideen wars and the Taliban time - but women represent the new way of doing politics in the country. Women are simply far less inclined to do politics the old way. Women are not warlords. Afghans aren't idiots.

4. Fawzia Koofi is properly associated with everything that is new, hopeful, honest and brave in Afghanistan. She's not a howling auld crawthumper like certain people I could mention. She stuck it out, she hung in there, and she stands up to her political adversaries in parliament without pulling her hair out and calling them ugly names. She's not for running away. She's for working, and working hard.

The absurd dysfunction at the heart of Afghan democracy is an electoral system that requires Afghan voters to navigate the maze of a "single non-transferable voting" arrangement that it shares only with Vanuatu, Jordan and the Pitcairn Islands (and upper-house votes in Thailand and Indonesia). It's a crippling disincentive to political-party organization, which exacerbates Afghanistan's other big constitutional failing: almost all power is concentrated in the presidential palace.

What all this means is there's no way you can get anything serious done in Afghanistan unless you run for president yourself, but this could actually work in Fawzia's favour. There are several alternatives to Hamid Karzai. Among them are the popular pro-democracy Massoudist Abdullah Abdullah (Karzai's closest contender in 2009) and Ashraf Ghani (famous anthro-technocrat, diplo-charmer and former World Bank mandarin). Lately, Amrullah Saleh, the formidable, articulate and principled (and thus fired) former intelligence chief, has been touted as a contender who could be Karzai's worst nightmare. But if they all run against each other, they all lose.

The great tragedy of Hamid Karzai is that he's a political genius who has absolutely no aptitude for government. All he knows is the politics of the kulan naffar. He'd be fine on the comfy chair of a Popolzai khanate, but what the world expects and what Afghans want and need is a democratic republic. Karzai was exactly what Afghanistan needed in 2004, but pretty well ever since, he's been exactly what Afghanistan has not needed. He's a wizard at deal-making and intrigue, but he can't even govern his own wardrobe. I mean, just look at his hat.

What a Koofi candidacy could do is give all the good lads in the running for 2014 a cause to crank back their testoterone just a bit and combine their many talents behind her. Abdullah, Ghani, Saleh and the others respect one another well enough, but they don't particularly trust one another. But they could trust Koofi. They know it. If they were smart, they'd also know that she could be the one way out, the big break everyone's been looking for.

It remains to be seen whether Koofi will stick with it or will choose to throw her immense moral and political weight behind another candidate. However things shake out, Fawzia Koofi should be expected to be intimately involved in whoever the leading contender for the Afghan presidency will be in 2014.

I highly recommend Fawzia's book, Letters to My Daughters, which will be in the bookstores in the coming weeks. I would recommend it even if she were not "the new face of Afghanistan," and even if she were not a political leader. It is an astonishing story, a pesonal memoir from the front lines of the greatest freedom struggle in human history. If you don't regard the emancipation of women in that way, and you don't know why Afghanistan is critical to that struggle, then you simply haven't been paying attention.

Whatever happens, you'll want to be paying attention to Fawzia Koofi.


Blogger brian platt said...

Amen to that.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Cudoine said...

I read your piece on the frantic worriers fretting about islamists being the power behind the revolutions in the arab world. If you are wrong and islamists end up in charge,would you reconsider you opinions of some of those called alarmist. I am also curious as to your qualifications to comment, not necessarily formal, regarding the muslim brotherhood and orthodox interpretations of islamic texts, as in have you ever read any of the most popular and authoritative tafseer?

9:41 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

My qualifications to "comment" do not require any claimed expertise in Islamist mumbo-jumbo, especially when I am merely pointing out that there is no evidence available to the conspiracy theorists who would have stupid people believe that the Egyptian demonstrators or the Libyan rebels are simpy the marionettes of some sort of Wahabbist plot.

Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood and such reactionary forces may well succeed in taking an advantage of the events in the so-called "Muslim World" that exceeds the advantage seized and won by the democrats and reformers who have organized the uprisings. Would that make the conspiracy theorists right? No. Would it mean I have something to apologize for? No.

I pay close heed to sensible and well-informed people whose attention to the sinister reach of Islamism has caused the to wish the rebels well, but who remain nonetheless very cirmcumspect and even fearful about the prospects for revolutionary advance in the Maghreb. Spencer is not among these. He bases his claims on a kind of mind-reading. My standards are higher.

11:56 AM  
Blogger isa26bel said...

I wiss her good luck. I just finish to read her book and i wiss her so hard that. She can do it. She is a model for a lot of women and give us a reason to be a WOMEN pround of us. Thank you to share your story with the world. And please be carefull

8:32 AM  
Blogger Cudoine said...

Mr. Gavin

Following your thought in analogy, reading mein kampf, and other nazi mumbo-jumbo was unnecessary and studying marxist manifestos and literature to achieve an understanding of communist totalitarian ideology and methodologies, again unnecessary. Yet if Western leaders like chamberlain and those they relied on had read Hitler's book, the deaths of tens of millions could have been averted. Churchill wouldn't have been referred to as a warmonger for his warnings by a chorus of proven fools, many of whom were thought "sensible" and claimed to be "well-informed." A chorus you seem to have joined.

The muslim brotherhood is a conspiratorial organization, from the use of front organizations, selective use of violence, concealed membership to it's shadowy leadership. These are people for whom, the "protocols of the elders of zion" is an authentic document and there is a conspiracy by Freemasons to destroy islam. Why would they not emulate their enemies in the use of subterfuge and deception. Given the weaknesses, military, industrial, material among others of the "muslim world" conspiracy, deception and subterfuge seem the most powerful tools in their arsenal. This explains some of the actions of say the pakistanis, and is demonstrable in the surprise victory of hamas in Gaza, with reports people were instructed to conceal their support for hamas from pollsters. Whether out of wilful ignorance, dementia, simple naiveté or plain stupidity to underestimate islamists' capacities to organize and direct events to suit themselves is more dangerous to those opposed to their agenda than overestimating them.

Dismissing islamic texts, doctrine, and idealogical practices speaks not just of the arrogance so many non-Westerners accuse Westerners of, but also of the idiocy of those well-informed and sensible who called a warning Churchill alarmist and warmonger. Islam gave it's name to an entire civilization, failure to explore and understand the orthodoxies and orthopraxies of the defining characteristic of the civilization is insane in it's shallowness and arrogance.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Shamim Siddiqi said...

Fawzia Koofi will be a brilliant csnd9dsr for Presidential Election 2014 in Afghanistan against the "comic-man" Karzai, the most corrupt and the most incompetent president of THE POORETS COUNTRY in THE WORLD.

She is gracious, intelligent,sober.courageous and visionary fro building the future
The entire womenfolk of the country will support her. Insha Allah she will prove the best head of the state in this region

Shamim A Siddiqi

7:03 PM  

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