With the Islamic extremist Taliban hovering over war-ravaged Afghanistan like a vulture, the deadlocked presidential election threatened to tear the country apart.
And without the rule of law — albeit tenuous — that has been the hallmark of the fledgling democracy, the Taliban would undoubtedly make its move to retake control of the country.
The Islamists who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist and adherence to Shariah law were overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Since then, thousands of American soldiers have died, and billions of dollars have been spent to guide the nation out of the Dark Ages.
The presidential election in June was meant to ensure a smooth transition of power from Hamid Karzai to either former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai or former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
But with Abdullah charging widespread election fraud and Ahmadzai declaring victory, the threat of a major political crisis with long-range implications loomed large.
Enter U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is still reeling from his failure to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and has the arduous task of trying to persuade the Iranians to abandon their nuclear ambitions.
By all accounts, Kerry deserves credit for persuading the two presidential candidates to agree to an audit under national and international supervision of every one of the 8 million ballots, and to embrace the concept of a unity government that will involve participation from both presidential camps and all communities in Afghanistan.
Ahmadzai told the Associated Press that his fears of a return to Afghanistan’s darkest days helped motivate the two politicians’ agreement.
Although the negotiations mediated by Kerry were tense, there was a recognition by all parties that political turmoil would lead to a disintegration of the country.
Reign of terror
Both Ahmadzai and Abdullah are well aware of what a return of the Taliban would mean. During their reign of terror, the Islamic extremists took away individual freedoms, relegated women to second-class citizenry, deprived girls of attending school and generally caused the country to collapse economically and socially.
It was one of the most backward, depressed nations on earth when the 2001 invasion took place. Then U.S. President George W. Bush decided to invade after it was determined that most of the terrorists who participated in the attack of America’s homeland that claimed 3,000 lives were trained in camps located in the mountains of Afghanistan.
The camps were run by al-Qaida, led by America’s avowed enemy Osama bin Laden.
Today, the situation is as dangerous as ever. A suicide bombing Tuesday resulted in at least 89 people dying and scores injured. The detonation of a car packed with explosives was the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
That’s why a stable government in Kabul is important. The United States and its coalition partners have paid too high a price to let Afghanistan fall into the hands of extremists.