The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which was founded after the end of the first Taliban rule in 2001 and which fell on Sunday under the onslaught of the same Taliban, had two presidents.

One of them has been in exile in the United Arab Emirates since then.

The other is negotiating the country's political future with the new rulers in Kabul.

Hamid Karzai is the latter, Ashraf Ghani is the former.

The story of the two men and the ongoing rivalry between them shines a spotlight on the conflicts and intrigues that characterized Afghan politics and which sometimes paralyzed the country's leadership - which favored the Taliban's triumphant advance.

Christian Meier

Editor in politics.

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Ghani appeared to allow for some self-criticism when he said in a video address released on Wednesday evening that the Taliban's takeover was a failure of politics, not the army. However, he primarily blamed the peace process imposed on his administration by the United States. This was in truth a "war process", said Ghani, and it did not reflect the will of the people. The Ghani, who has been in office since 2014, had objected from the start that President Donald Trump's administration had been holding talks with the Taliban since 2018 without his involvement. Time and again, the government in Kabul was confronted with a fait accompli by the American ally - right up to Joe Biden's sudden decision to withdraw in April.

Storm of indignation

Still, Ghani has been exposed to a storm of indignation since he left the country headlong on Sunday.

The president was originally supposed to travel to Doha to negotiate a transfer of power with the Taliban.

Saad Mohseni, the owner of Tolo television, called Ghani a coward and said people would "spit on his grave for a hundred years".

One of the ministers spoke of treason.

Even Donald Trump said: "To be honest, I never had much faith in Ghani," said the former American president on Fox News. In his eyes he was "a total deceiver". The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan spread - possibly on the basis of Russian reports - that the president had carried more than 160 million dollars with him. Since then, there have been calls on social media that Interpol should arrest Ghani. He denied the allegation in the video. In fact, he couldn't even take proper shoes with him, everything happened so quickly.

While the 72-year-old Ghani was experiencing the low point of his career, the eleven-year-old Hamid Karzai worked in the past few days to get his going again - with an as yet uncertain outcome. On Sunday evening, the president for the years 2001 to 2014 announced the establishment of a coordination council to speak to the Taliban. In addition to himself, the committee includes the politicians and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdullah Abdullah, who had competed for power with Ghani for a long time and is Karzai's political ally. It was also Abdullah who shouted a few unkind words after Ghani after Ghani's escape in a Facebook video (“God should hold him accountable”), while Karzai made no public statements.