By Mick Krever, CNN
As the U.S. brokers a deal to try to stave off political calamity in Afghanistan, the American special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said he was hopeful and “reasonably confident” that the country can hold together politically.
“I think it will depend first of all on the leadership exercised by the two candidates” – Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani – “in forming a national unity government and then working together over the next several years.
“It will also depend on their ability to hold their supporters to this agreement as well. I think they have the capacity to do that. I think they are committed to working together.”
Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise trip to Kabul this weekend to broker a deal between the rival presidential candidates, who have both claimed victory in their country’s election and alleged massive fraud.
The deal requires an audit of every single ballot cast during the runoff election last month. It also lays out the groundwork for a change in the way Afghanistan is governed, weakening the president’s powers and establishing a prime minister.
Amanpour asked Dobbins whether the audit would be “the final word” on the election.
“I think the audit of every single last vote will confirm the legitimacy of the election process,” he said. “Both of the candidates have agreed to abide by the result.”
But Dobbins emphasized that the second part of that deal means that “no matter who actually wins the vote, the government will include representatives of both campaigns and both factions.”
“What is clear is that one of them, of course, will be president and the other one will either be in the government or his designees will be in the government – that would be up to that individual, whether he personally joins the government. That hasn't been decided.”
As the U.S. prepares for a reduced presence in Afghanistan, some fear that the security situation could deteriorate, as it has in dramatic fashion in Iraq.
Amanpour put that comparison to Dobbins.
“I think that there are differences between Afghanistan and Iraq, tempting as the analogy is between the two,” he said. “The Afghans are divided by language and to a lesser degree religion and geography and ethnicity.”
“But they simply don't dislike each other to the same degree that the Iraqis do.”
“They just all want a large share in governing Afghanistan. So the competition there is a competition not about national identity in the way it is in Iraq, for instance; it's a competition for power in a fairly straightforward fashion, which is susceptible to the kind of deal making that Secretary Kerry was successful in pulling off last weekend.”