Amiryar calls for democracy in Afghanistan

GW professor Quadir Amiryar said diplomatic, economic and legal actions should remain the United States’ priority in leading the international coalition against al Qaeda, the global terror network allegedly run by suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. The group is widely believed to be responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Without even using a single bullet, we have accomplished so much,” Amiryar said. “We have Pakistan and others on our side now, and we need to emphasize diplomacy.”

Amiryar, a practicing Muslim and naturalized American citizen who was born in the Afghan capital of Kabul, is an expert in the area of Middle Eastern conflict and politics. He teaches classes in Middle Eastern comparative politics and international law.

He is also on the executive committee of the Cyprus Peace Movement for Afghanistan, a group formed in 1999 to promote peaceful relations between the Northern Alliance and the ruling Taliban through building political, social and economic coalitions. The movement, consisting of more than 100 delegates worldwide, seeks to restore democracy and freedom to the country deprived of both since the 1973 overthrow of the monarchy, Amiryar said.

The Northern Alliance, also known as the “United Front,” is a group of rebel political factions controlling 10 percent of Afghanistan whose main goal is to overthrow the Taliban, Amiryar said. The political factions making up the Northern Alliance used to be at war with one another before the Taliban seized power shortly after they defeated Soviet forces in 1989.

Amiryar said the Northern Alliance could disintegrate in the foreseeable future if the Taliban government is toppled, leaving Afghanistan with more infighting.

Amiryar said he is concerned about an order for a holy war against the United States given by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in recent days. A holy war usually requires a fatwa, or religious order, from an Islamic cleric of the highest authority, Amiryar said. Because he is not of the highest authority, Omar is not qualified to issue a fatwa, he said.

While he agrees with President George W. Bush’s moves so far, including coalition building and the freezing of suspected terrorist assets, Amiryar remains concerned about the future direction of the war on terrorism and cited his own recommendations.

“I would like to see a transitional government or an alternative to the Taliban [to] be put in place rather than resorting to military options,” he said. “There have been enough casualties, nearly 7,000, here already, and we don’t want to add a single one.”

He acknowledged the situation in Afghanistan could reach a point where force, not the rule of law, is the only solution to bring those responsible for recent and previous attacks on the United States to justice.

“The Taliban has destroyed the social culture of Afghans,” Amiryar said.

Among many extremely restrictive measures it has imposed, the Taliban declared that it is illegal for women to receive an education and to work, even when widowed, and to reveal their face from their veils. Men are required to grow a beard to a specific length and pray five times a day.

Most of these laws are punishable by death, with executions often taking place in soccer stadiums, he said.

The Hindu minority is also forced to wear an identification patch on their turban or clothing.

“It is a horrible thing to do and reminds me of what the Nazis used to do,” Amiryar said. “We will never accept such a thing. It is a crime against humanity.”

Amiryar said a future Afghan government should rely on democratic principles.

“I think the solution for the Afghan people would be the establishment of a process to revive the Grand National Assembly consisting of all ethnicities represented in Afghanistan,” Amiryar said. Invoking the GNA would be similar to calling a joint session of Congress. Five hundred to 1,000 delegates representing every facet of Afghanistan’s population from religious leaders to teachers to political leaders would attend.

In the event of a postwar move to reestablish democracy in Afghanistan, Amiryar said he would offer his services to the effort.

“(Afghans) have always fought for their freedom,” Amiryar said. “The basic element of Afghan culture has the most similarity with the traditions of American culture with its love of freedom, love of religion and respect for individuals.”

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