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Abdullah Abdullah

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Abdullah Abdullah

Abdullah Abdullah
عبدالله عبدالله
Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan[1]
Assumed office
29 September 2014
President Ashraf Ghani
Deputy Mohammad Mohaqiq
Preceded by Position established
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
2 October 2001 – 20 April 2005
President Hamid Karzai
Preceded by Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil
Succeeded by Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Leader of the National Coalition of Afghanistan
Assumed office
18 March 2010
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born September 1960 (age 54)
Kabul, Afghanistan[2]
Political party National Coalition of Afghanistan
Spouse(s) Fakhria Abdullah (1993–present)
Children 4
Alma mater Kabul University
Religion Islam
Website Official website

Abdullah Abdullah (Persian/Pashto: عبدالله عبدالله, born 1960) is a politician in Afghanistan, serving as Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan [1] since September 2014.[3] From October 2001 to April 2005, he served as the country's Foreign Minister. Prior to that he was a senior member of the Northern Alliance working as an adviser to Ahmad Shah Massoud.[4] He also worked as a doctor of medicine during the late 1990s.

Abdullah ran against President Hamid Karzai in the 2009 presidential election, coming in second place with 30.5% of the total votes. In 2010, he created the Coalition for Change and Hope, which is one of the leading democratic opposition movements in Afghanistan.[5][6] In 2011, the coalition was transformed into the National Coalition of Afghanistan.[7] He ran again in the 2014 presidential election but lost to President Ashraf Ghani. Afterwards, the two created a unity government in which Abdullah serves as President Ghani's Chief Executive Officer. He was a bodyguard for Ahmad shah Massoud during the Russian invasion and Civil war.[1]

Early life

Abdullah was born in the second district of Karte Parwan in Kabul, Afghanistan.[2] His early years were split between living in Panjshir, Kandahar, and Kabul, where his father was serving as an administrator in the land survey, and subsequently the inspection section of the Prime Minister's office. His father had been appointed to that position by King Zahir Shah. According to Abdullah, both of his parents were born in Kabul.[2] The ancestors of his father, Ghullam Muhayuddin Khan Zmaryalay, are said to be Pashtuns from the Kandahar area.[4][8][9] However, because his mother belongs to the Tajik group and he always remained with the Northern Alliance, Abdullah is often referred to as a Tajik. He has seven sisters and two brothers.[10]

Until he became a government minister, Abdullah had only a first name; demands from Western newspaper editors for a family name led him to adopt the full name Abdullah Abdullah.[11]

Education and medical career

Abdullah graduated from Naderia High School in 1976. He then studied ophthalmology at Kabul University’s Department of Medicine and graduated with an M.D. in 1983.[12]

After receiving his degree, Abdullah worked as an ophthalmologist at Noor Eye Institute in Kabul until 1986. Later, Abdullah left the country due to the social and political unrest during the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government. He worked, briefly, at the Syed Jamaluddin Afghani Eye Hospital for Afghan Refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Early political career

Soviet war in Afghanistan

In September 1985, Abdullah became the head of the Health Department for the Panjshir Resistance Front, coordinating treatments and health care for the resistance fighters and the civilian population.[10] He became a close associate and adviser to mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Soviet war in Afghanistan.[13]

Islamic State of Afghanistan

After the fall of the communist government in 1992, the Peshawar Accord established the Islamic State of Afghanistan with an interim government lead by Burhanuddin Rabbani. Abdullah was appointed Chief of Staff and spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense.[10]

United Islamic Front

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban seized power in Kabul and 90% of the country with military training support by Pakistan and previous financial support by the United States of America, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[14]

Following the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, the United Islamic Front (Northern Alliance) was created under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud, The NA was supported by Russia, Iran & India. Dr. Abdullah became the United Front's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Islamic State of Afghanistan elements of the United Front, including the Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, remained Afghanistan's internationally recognized government. The Taliban Emirate received partial diplomatic recognition from the international community (from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates).

In early 2001 Abdullah traveled with Ahmad Shah Massoud to Brussels where Massoud addressed the European Parliament asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan.[15] Dr. Abdullah translated when Massoud stated that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of Pakistan and Bin Laden, the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year.[15]

Modern Afghanistan

See also: Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan) and 2001 in Afghanistan

Foreign ministry

From left to right: Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, and Abdullah Abdullah. (April 2009)

In October 2001 the Taliban regime was overthrown by Operation Enduring Freedom including American and United Front forces. As a result of the Bonn conference on Afghanistan, Abdullah was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Interim Administration in December 2001.

Following the 2004 Afghanistan Presidential Elections, Abdullah was one of the few people who kept their position from the Transitional Government and was re-appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs for another year. In 2005 he resigned his position.[16]

2009 presidential election

On May 6, 2009, Abdullah registered as an Independent candidate for the 2009 Afghan presidential election, running against incumbent president Hamid Karzai. Abdullah selected as his running mates Humayun Shah Asefi as his First Vice President and Dr. Cheragh Ali Cheragh (a surgeon from Kabul who is a practicing Shia) as Second Vice President. Afghanistan has an Executive structure featuring two Vice Presidents, a First VP and a Second VP, to help ensure a stable government by attempting to provide ethnic and religious balance to senior government leadership positions. Unofficial and non-certified electoral results were announced during the day on September 16, 2009, showing that Abdullah was in second position with 27.8% of the total votes cast. President Karzai did not achieve the 50.01% vote majority required to avoid a runoff election. A large number of fraudulent ballots, mostly belonging to Karzai's camp, were disallowed by the Independent Afghan Electoral Commission. Karzai came under intense international political and diplomatic pressure from international leaders because of allegations of large-scale fraud. Hamid Karzai eventually agreed to participate in a designated head-to-head runoff election (held between the contenders with the two largest numbers of total votes in the first election) which was scheduled nationwide for November 7, 2009.[17]

On November 1, 2009, Abdullah announced that he had decided to withdraw from the runoff election, citing his lack of faith in the President Karzai government's ability to hold a "fair and transparent" second election process. Subsequently Hamid Karzai was declared the winner by the Afghan Electoral Commission (essentially winning by default).

National Coalition of Afghanistan

After the 2009 Afghan Presidential Elections, Abdullah created the Coalition for Change and Hope (CCH). The CCH presents the leading democratic opposition movement against the government of Hamid Karzai.[5][6]

In the September 18, 2010, parliamentary election, the Coalition for Change and Hope won more than 90 seats out of 249 seats, becoming the main opposition party.[5][6] As a result, it is assumed that the new Parliament will introduce some checks and balances on the Presidential power.[5][6]

Regarding the Taliban insurgency and Karzai's strategy of negotiations Dr. Abdullah stated:

"I should say that Taliban are not fighting in order to be accommodated. They are fighting in order to bring the state down. So it's a futile exercise, and it's just misleading. ... There are groups that will fight to the death. Whether we like to talk to them or we don't like to talk to them, they will continue to fight. So, for them, I don't think that we have a way forward with talks or negotiations or contacts or anything as such. Then we have to be prepared to tackle and deal with them militarily. In terms of the Taliban on the ground, there are lots of possibilities and opportunities that with the help of the people in different parts of the country, we can attract them to the peace process; provided, we create a favorable environment on this side of the line."[18]

In December 2011, the "National Coalition of Afghanistan" supported by dozens of Afghan political parties and led by Abdullah Abdullah was formed to challenge the government of President Hamid Karzai. Major figures associated with the coalition include Yunus Qanooni (the former head of the Afghan Parliament), Homayoon Shah-asefi (a former presidential candidate and leader of the monarchist party with ties to the family of former king Zahir Shah), Noorolhagh Oloumi (a senior political figure in the former Afghan communist government), Ahmad Wali Massoud (a younger brother of Ahmad Shah Massoud) and several current Members of Parliament.[7]

Massoud Foundation

Abdullah has been the Secretary General of the Massoud Foundation since June 2006. The Massoud Foundation is an independent, non-aligned, non-profitable and non-political organization established by people who have been affected by the life of Massoud. It provides humanitarian assistance to Afghans especially in the fields of health care and education. It also runs programs in the fields of culture, construction, agriculture and welfare.

2014 presidential candidacy

On 1 October 2013, Abdullah officially announced his nomination for the presidential election held on 5 April 2014. On 13 April, BBC News reported that the counting indicated that Abdullah had thus far received 44.65% of the vote, with Ashraf Ghani following behind with 33.6%.[19] Abdullah and Ghani were then bound to compete in a run-off election in June 2014.[20] The results of that election remained in dispute through until September 2014, with Abdullah claiming the government and the national electoral institutions manipulated the results. Pressure from the United States on the two candidates to resolve their differences, and to negotiate a power-sharing deal were initially agreed to, but Abdullah later remained defiant. A UN-led audit failed to sway Abdullah as he insisted the audit team could not explain a million extra votes counted in the run-off. Ghani supporters insisted they wanted to do a deal with Abdullah, and said they were leaving the door open to negotiations.[21]

On September 19, the Independent Election Commission announced Ghani the winner.[22] Five hours later, Abdullah and Ghani signed a power-sharing agreement, with Ghani being named president and Abdullah taking on an important position in the government; the deal was signed in front of the presidential palace, with incumbent president Hamid Karzai in attendance.[22] Part of the deal stipulated that the Independent Election Commission would not release the exact vote totals of the second round of voting.[22]


  1. ^ a b c "CEO renews electoral reform vow". Pajhwok Afghan News. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Monday said the national unity government remained committed to reforming the electoral bodies. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dr. Abdullah Abdullah". Retrieved 2-13-10-23. Fifty years ago I was born in the second district of Karte Parwan in Kabul in the same house where I reside today. Both of my parents were born in Kabul, but my father's family comes from Kandahar and my mother's from the Panjshir Province. I have seven sisters and two brother. 
  3. ^ Craig, Tim (21 September 2014). "Ghani named winner of Afghan election, will share power with rival in new government". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Cross, Tony (12 August 2009). "Abdullah Abdullah".  
  5. ^ a b c d "Afghan opposition says new parliament can check Karzai". Reuters. November 24, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d "2010 Afghan Parliamentary Election: Checks and Balances of Power". Khaama Press. December 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Afghanistan: New Coalition Challenges Karzai Government". 2011-12-23. 
  8. ^ Farmer, Ben (August 13, 2009). "Afghan election: Hamid Karzai's rival Abdullah Abdullah crosses ethnic divide". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Poll shows Afghan vote headed for second round". Reuters. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  10. ^ a b c Abdullah, Abdullah. "Dr. Abdullah Abdullah: In His Own Words". National Coalition of Afghanistan. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 2009; orig. ed. 2008), p. 66.
  12. ^ "The Transition to Democracy in Afghanistan and the Challenges Ahead". Council on Foreign Relations. October 17, 2002. Archived from the original on 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  13. ^ "Profile: Abdullah Abdullah". BBC News. 22 March 2006. Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  14. ^ Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin, 2005), 14.
  15. ^ a b "Massoud in the European Parliament 2001". EU media. 2001. 
  16. ^ "Afghan President Karzai appoints new cabinet". Pakistan Times. 24 December 2004. Archived from the original on 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  17. ^ "Why Karzai's Rival Abdullah Won't Budge on Runoff". Time. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  18. ^ "Abdullah Abdullah: Talks With Taliban Futile". National Public Radio (NPR). 2010-10-22. 
  19. ^ "Afghan poll: Abdullah slightly ahead as count continues". BBC News. April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  20. ^ Nordland, Rod (26 April 2014). "Afghan Voters Signaling a Turn". New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "Abdullah insists he has won and refuses to accept vote audit". Radio Free Europe. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  22. ^ a b c Nordland, Rod (21 September 2014). "Ashraf Ghani Is Named President of Afghanistan by Elections Panel". New York Times. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 

External links

  • Dr. Abdullah on YouTube with Ahmad Shah Massoud in the European Parliament
  • Dr. Abdullah Abdullah Official Presidential Campaign Website
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Abdullah Abdullah collected news and commentary at The Guardian
  • Karzai's Challenger Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Aryn Baker in Pashir, Time, 5 August 2009
  • Video: Abdullah Abdullah at the Asia Society, New York, 5/27/2010
Party political offices
New office Deputy Leader of the Northern Alliance
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Leader of the National Coalition of Afghanistan
Political offices
Preceded by
Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Preceded by
Position established
Chief Executive Officer

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