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07KABUL3498 2007-10-15 10:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

KARZAI POLICY CHIEF OUTLINES STRATEGY FOR THE NEXT

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1. (C) Republic Party Chairman and President Karzai's Chief
of Policy Sebghatullah Sanjar outlined in a September 24
conversation with POLCOUNS his plan for winning the 2009
presidential election. Sanjar's strategy is based on
"drawing a line between those who favor the Constitution and
those who are against it." He identified four emerging
political groupings -- pre-Soviet, Mujahidin, Tribal
groupings, and new parties -- and expressed his opinion that
Karzai needs to accept the inevitability of political parties
and work in earnest to assemble a coalition based on the
vision of Afghan unity that he represents. END SUMMARY.

KARZAI'S POLITICAL STRATEGIST


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Sebghatullah Sanjar, one of President Karzai's key
political strategists, outlined for POLCOUNS September 24 his
role as a political problem-solver and his plan for helping
Karzai win the 2009 presidential election. Sanjar has played
an instrumental role in finding acceptable ways to implement
politically difficult Afghan Compact Benchmarks, such as the
Senior Appointments Board. Sanjar also helped craft Karzai's
position on transitional justice. Sanjar guided the
government's effort to reassure Afghans that transitional
justice does not mean executing people "as with Saddam
Hussein," but rather making sure perpetrators abandon their
old ways. While the Afghanistan Compact is government
policy, it still needs to be sold to the people, Sanjar said.
The government must do a better job of getting the message
out, he added, by promoting success stories like the
development of the Afghan National Army. He highlighted the
challenge of managing expectations by explaining that
building a government takes time, "just like building roads
and power stations."

KARZAI'S ELECTION STRATEGY


--------------------------





3. (C) Sanjar outlined a strategy for the 2009 presidential
elections based on "drawing a line between those who favor
the Constitution and those who are against it." He believes
the Afghan people support a unified Afghanistan under the
existing constitution, acknowledging that if this is to
translate into support for Karzai in the next election, "we
must deliver, especially security and a vision of Afghan
unity." He said the government will try to convince the
people that "both issues are in their hands and that working
with the government is the best way to achieve them." He
added that "people are ready to support us, but we cannot
wait for them to come to us; we need to reach out." Sanjar
described the establishment of Jelani Popal's new Independant
Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) as an opportunity to
gain votes by extending reliable government services to the
local level. (NOTE: Sanjar was on the four-person panel
that Karzai assembled to design the new office (ref A). END
NOTE.)



4. (C) Sanjar contrasted his approach to that of the
opposition (he specifically referred to the United Front),
where the focus is on Mujahidin roots or narrow tribal
interest. By definition, he argued, these are "opponents of
national unity." The key, he said, will be offering a
program based on unity and security under a united banner
with one leader and one candidate. "If we can do this," he
said, given the fragmented nature of the opposition, "we will
win." (NOTE: This assumes not only that the
anti-Constitutionalists will be divided and in the minority,
but also that Karzai can keep pro-Constitution presidential
aspirants -- such as MOF Ahady, MOE Atmar, and MOD Wardak --
in the tent and satisfied. END NOTE.) Sanjar said we can

KABUL 00003498 002 OF 002


expect near-term changes to the cabinet and governors as one
means of holding together this pro-Constitution coalition.

POLITICAL FACTIONS


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Sanjar believes that Karzai will have to assemble
his coalition by working with new and emerging political
parties. He described four types of political groupings:
(1) those that existed before the Soviet occupation (e.g.
Finance Minister Ahady's Afghan Millat); (2) political
groupings that have their roots in the anti-Soviet jihad
(e.g. the United Front); (3) tribal groupings (e.g. Hazaras
and Jumbesh), and; (4) newly emerging parties (e.g. his own
Republic Party). He noted they can be broadly categorized
into two sets: those that support the Constitution and those
that demand constitutional change. While old parties have a
bad reputation, he said, new parties are struggling to
develop any reputation at all.



6. (SBU) The challenge will be to develop a pro-Constitution
coalition -- including Sanjar's own Republic Party -- from
among these emerging parties. Sanjar noted that, while the
Republic Party is trying to identify "like-minded MPs" and
form the core of this coalition, the United Front is trying
to recruit diverse parties and factions to support its vision
for Constitutional change, i.e. a loose parliamentary system
and elected governors (ref B). He noted that the United
Front may be hobbled by the fact that there are so many
prominent individuals who assume they should lead that ticket.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) Karzai has trusted Sanjar to manage some of the
thornier political issues confronting the Palace. Sanjar
wants to help Karzai, who lack a political party of his own,
to craft his re-election strategy. Sanjar believes Karzai
has gotten off to a late start in appreciating the need to
work through -- or at least with -- organized parties to
implement a coherent political campaign and get out his
message. Nevertheless, Karzai appears to be calculating he
can win re-election by presenting himself to the electorate
as the only truly national political figure associated with a
unified Afghanistan.

WOOD