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German Press Review: A Mixed Message from Kabul

Most German newspapers offered praise for Afghanistan’s new constitution on Monday, but many say true democracy will continue to elude the war-torn country.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that Afghanistan is already a state, but now it must show whether it can progress to become a nation. An important step was taken at the weekend, the paper’s editors opined, although it was apparent how difficult it was for the delegates of the Loya Jirga to agree on the constitution. However, the paper warned that a weakness in the Afghanistan government is that the delegates will return to their regions and will be exposed to various influences. The paper concluded that it feared that not everyone who has shown a willingness to find a compromise in Kabul would be able to stick to this position in the long run.

The Südkurier in Constance commented that Afghanistan’s new constitution is not only a success for the Afghani people but also a success for the West. The paper wrote that it confirms to the countries that provided funds and soldiers that they were right to take this course and that they did help Afghanistan find the way to peace. The paper also noted, however, that Afghanistan’s success is only on paper because it is the regional warlords who are in power outside Kabul. They want to turn back the wheel of time, wrote the paper, while the Taliban is preparing for revenge. The paper concluded that the West will have to do more for Kabul in a military sense to create lasting order in the whole country. Otherwise Afghanistan’s new constitution will soon prove to be worthless.

The Essen-based Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung wrotes that two years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan now finally has a basic liberal law, which is so far so good. However, the paper warned: Though the new constitution looks good on paper, it in no way reflects the reality of the country'’ society. The paper went on to explain that Afghan women are still suppressed, the feared warlords still prevail in the county and Afghanistan is still divided along ethnic lines. The paper commented it is not being pessimistic in pointing out these facts, but rather that greater effort is needed to solve these issues in order for Afghanistan to progress.

On a more optimistic level, the Darmstädter Echo commented that the success of Afghanistan’s constitution lies in bringing the numerous factions within the Loya Jirga together. The unanimous agreement within the grand assembly is a real milestone for the country’s education in the democratic process.

Neues Deutschland opted for a more cautious editorial, writing that Afghanistan’s new constitution still has to be tested and proved. While the Sharia law was not adopted, the paper noted the country will be calling itself an ‘Islamic republic’ rather than the ‘Republic of Afghanistan,’ which is an indication of how much influence Islamic powers have in the country. The editors wrote that another concern lay in the tenuous balance of power that will determine what the government will become. Another problem, it wrote, is the country’s warlords -- particularly those who are opposed to the United States and its allies who invaded Afghanistan. Rebuilding the country will take time, the paper wrote, and the new constitution alone will bot ensure the advent of democracy any time soon.

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