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Afghanistan’s incumbent president Hamid Karzai has conceded to a runoff election on November 7th, responding to heavy international and US pressure. This summer’s presidential election was marred by rampant vote fraud in which both Karzai and his closest rival Abdullah Abdullah were implicated. Karzai had for weeks maintained that he won an outright runoff-proof majority, and even as late as a few days ago, was refusing to concede. At a Kabul press conference on Tuesday with Senator John Kerry, Karzai called upon Afghans to show up to the polls a second time this year. Kerry heads up the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has spoken out against increasing US troop numbers in Afghanistan until a government credible to the Afghan people is elected. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly admitted last week that she expected Karzai to win a runoff election. The White House is currently reviewing its Afghanistan strategy and debating whether or not to send more troops to a war that has passed the 8 year mark. General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan wants to add 40,000 new US troops to the approximately 100,000 US and NATO forces currently there. Meanwhile Vice President Joe Biden is advising the President to preserve troop levels at the current number, and narrow the war to counterinsurgency operations along the border with Pakistan. President Obama got some different advice recently at fundraiser in San Francisco when Codepink co-founder Jodie Evans delivered thousands of signatures of Afghan women asking for no new troops and for a complete exit from the country after a reconciliation process. A CNN?opinion research poll released on Monday revealed that 52% of Americans see the Afghanistan war as similar to the Vietnam war.
As the White House debates on how best to continue the war, an Afghan women’s rights activist who goes by the name Zoya, is touring the United States with the message that the occupation must end and that the US is not acting in the interests of ordinary Afghans. Zoya is a member of the intrepid underground women’s organization RAWA, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, whom I’ve been working with for many years. She will be speaking at several events this week in the Southern California area: Eagle Rock on Wednesday and Pasadena and Venice on Thursday.
GUEST: Zoya, a member of RAWA