Amidst widespread turmoil in the middle east, Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, is leading a country that has been at the center of the conflict for over 15 years.
Here’s what you need to know about the country’s freshman President.
President Ghani is Western educated – an anthropologist by trade
In 1977, at the age of 27, Ghani left Afghanistan to pursue a master’s education in Anthropology at Columbia University in New York City.
After he completed his degree in 1982, Ghani still didn’t return to Afghanistan for almost another two decades.
President Ghani worked for the World Bank and the UN
During President Ghani’s time at the World Bank, he worked with many troubled economies, and helped to make make modern day China the economic powerhouse that it is today.
Rebuilding fragile economies is something of a specialty of President Ghani’s. In 2005 he founded an NGO called the Institute for State Effectiveness designed to advise struggling economies on how to recover after major conflicts.
Nepal and various African countries were some of Ghani and the institute’s major projects.
President Ghani is committed to US security presence as a pillar of Afghanistan’s road to stability
Highlighted by Ghani’s most recent (and first ever) trip to the White House, both he and President Obama are, for now, committed to keeping the approximately 9,800 American soldiers in Afghanistan in hopes of breeding stability.
President Ghani hopes that soldiers will be able to effectively guide and train Afghan security forces so that they may one day operate independently.
The Taliban and Al Qaeda, however, stand as a formidable obstacles to President Ghani’s goal for a more stable Afghanistan.
For America, President Ghani represents hope for a more amicable relationship between the US and Afghanistan
Unlike his predecessor Hamid Karzai, President Ghani is not only well-versed in American diplomacy (having spent 15 years living in Washington), he is actively seeking an end to the two countries’ strained relations.
In President Ghani’s six months in office, he has begun peacekeeping talks with Pakistan; these talks, with the support of his chief officer Abdullah Abdullah, and the Pakistani government, may pave the way to loosening the Taliban’s vice grip in the region.
President Ghani is infamous for his extremely short temper
President Ghani has been noted consistently – across mainstream media and personal anecdotes – to have a fiery temper.
As he describes it: “I have a strange—because there’s no other way probably of describing it—uh, temper,” he says. “I’m a very difficult taskmaster. I don’t wait.”
One of President Ghani’s main concerns is to combat fraud in Afghanistan
To lift Afghanistan out of economic (and social) turmoil, President Ghani will be faced with tackling the country’s massive corruption problem.
The extent of Afghanistan’s corruption problem was recently evidenced by a mishandling of $3.6 billion in US economic aid – the totality of which was revealed to be easily stolen by Afghan Police forces.
For President Ghani in Afghanistan, addressing the government’s and military’s corruption problem may be crucial in securing the requested economic aid from the US. The president has begun his campaign against corruption by addressing unprosecuted Kabul Bank fraud.