Between the Taliban and the U.S.-led occupation in Afghanistan, there are no good guys, from the point of view of the Iranian government, as Afghans will go to the polls this Thursday for the second presidential election of post-Taliban rule. Iran has been a historical ally of the Northern Alliance and an opponent of the Taliban; but it's also antagonistic to U.S. interests. You can see those dueling concerns in an article published today in the Tehran Times, which poses the election as an object of the occupiers' interests, not of Afghans':

The timing of this suicide attack, the first in the capital after eight months, was no coincidence. It is a clear message from the Taliban that in achieving their goal of disrupting the election process they have no regard for loss of Afghan civilian lives. In the past, they made their point by discouraging female education and participation in politics, hindering reconstruction projects, and stopping many other positive activities, all in the name of Islam.

Their foreign occupiers are no less hypocritical. As they try to convince their citizens from some 28 countries of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that their forces are in Afghanistan to remove a barbarian and terrorist regime and help the people to sow the seeds of democracy in Afghanistan's rugged terrain; they are increasingly falling short of justifying their Afghan mission.

Interestingly in some of the contributing countries, including United Arab Emirates and Jordan, there has never been a semblance of democracy...

...if we are to conduct a poll of realistic aspirations and needs of the ordinary Afghans, election would not be among the top ten things on their list. However, the success of the election would be the top priority for the occupying forces and the justification of their presence in Afghanistan.

Having lived in Canada, one of the major NATO contributing forces in Afghanistan, I was in Toronto during the October 2008 parliamentary election. In my neighborhood, the election was conducted in the building where about 3,000 people resided. It means that one could take the elevator, in their pajamas, and vote. Yet, the voter turnout was the lowest in the country's history. I am sure the same is true of many other countries with military presence in Afghanistan.

So the ultimate question is not to the Afghan people, but to the citizens of the countries that are contributing in Afghanistan at the cost of their soldiers' lives, their tax payers' money and ultimately their conscience. Do you want to bring enlightenment and democracy in Afghanistan? If the answer is yes, then why not start at home?

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