Abdullah Abdullah

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Abdullah Abdullah
عبدالله عبدالله
2017 Halifax International Security Forum (37618951885) (cropped).jpg
Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation
Assumed office
17 May 2020
PresidentAshraf Ghani
Preceded byPosition established
Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan
In office
29 September 2014 – 11 March 2020
PresidentAshraf Ghani
DeputyKhyal Mohammad Mohammad Khan
Mohammad Mohaqiq
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
22 December 2001 – 20 April 2005
PresidentHamid Karzai
Preceded byAbdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Succeeded byRangin Dadfar Spanta
Leader of the National Coalition of Afghanistan
Assumed office
18 March 2010
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
Born (1960-09-05) 5 September 1960 (age 60)[citation needed]
Kārte Parwān, Kingdom of Afghanistan
Political partyNational Coalition of Afghanistan (1996–present)
Fakhria Abdullah
(m. 1993)
Alma materKabul University (MBBS)
WebsiteOfficial website

Abdullah Abdullah (Dari/Pashto: عبدالله عبدالله‎, born 5 September 1960) is an Afghan politician who leads the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), which is expected to lead the intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.[1][2] He served as Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan[3] from September 2014 until March 2020.[4][5] From October 2001 to April 2005, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Prior to that he was a senior member of the Northern Alliance working as an adviser to Ahmad Shah Massoud.[6] He also worked as a medical doctor during the late 1990s.

Abdullah ran against President Hamid Karzai in the 2009 Afghan presidential election, coming in second place with 30.5% of the total votes. In 2010, he created the Coalition for Change and Hope (now the National Coalition of Afghanistan), which is one of the leading democratic opposition movements in Afghanistan.[7][8] In 2011, the coalition was transformed into the National Coalition of Afghanistan.[9] He ran again in the 2014 presidential election and went to the second round with 45% the total vote.[10] His closest rival, Ashraf Ghani, had secured 35% of the total vote.[10] Due to signs of fraud, the results of the second round were heavily contested and led to a deadlock.[11][12] Despite the controversy regarding the results of the second round of elections, the final certified result by the Independent election commission of Afghanistan shows that Ashraf Ghani received 55.3% of the votes while Abdullah Abdullah secured 44.7% of the vote.[13] After months of talks and US mediation, the two candidates established a national unity government in which Abdullah served as the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[14][15]

Early life[edit]

Abdullah was born in the second district of Kabul, Afghanistan.[16] His early years were split between living in Panjshir Province, and Kabul, where his father was serving as an administrator in the land survey, and subsequently the audit section of the Prime Minister's office. He is the son of a Pashtun father from the Panjshir area, Karte Parwan, and a Tajik mother from Panjshir. His father was a senator during the final years of King Zahir Shah's rule.[17][18][19] He has seven sisters and two brothers.[20]

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".[21] Dr. Abdullah is married, and has three daughters and a son.

Education and medical career[edit]

Abdullah graduated from Naderia High School in 1976. Then he went on to study ophthalmology at Kabul's University Department of Medicine where he received an MBBS in 1983. From 1984 to 1989 he served as a resident ophthalmologist at N'oor Institute in Kabul. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government from 1985 to 1986, he worked in the ophthalmology hospital in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.[22]

Early political career[edit]

Soviet war in Afghanistan[edit]

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.[20] He became a close associate and adviser to Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Soviet–Afghan War.[23]

Islamic State of Afghanistan[edit]

After the fall of the communist government in 1992, the Peshawar Accord established the Islamic State of Afghanistan with a provisional government led by Burhanuddin Rabbani. Abdullah was appointed chief of staff and spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense.[20]

United Islamic Front[edit]

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban seized power in Kabul and 90% of the country with military training support by Pakistan and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[24]

Following the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, the Northern Alliance was created under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud, The NA was supported by Russia, Iran and 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 government was recognized by only three countries – 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.[25] 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.[25]

Modern Afghanistan[edit]

Foreign ministry[edit]

From left to right: Ashraf Ghani, Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, and 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 International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn in 2001, Abdullah was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Interim Administration in December 2001.

In November 2001, a diplomatic crisis unfolded when the British government, without any forewarning or seeking permission from the Northern Alliance, flew members of the British Special Boat Service to Bagram. Abdullah was "apoplectic" as he considered the uninvited arrival to be a violation of sovereignty, and complained bitterly to the head of the CIA field office, threatening to resign if the British did not withdraw. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tried to reassure the Northern Alliance that the deployment was not a vanguard of a British peacekeeping army, but Northern Alliance leaders did not believe them; with the threat of the Northern Alliance opening fire on incoming Royal Air Force troop transports, the deployment was put on hold.[26]

Following the 2004 Afghan presidential election, 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.[27]

2009 presidential election[edit]

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 Shi'i Muslim) 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.[28]

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[edit]

After the 2009 Afghan Presidential Elections, Abdullah created the Coalition for Change and Hope (CCH). The NCA presented the leading democratic opposition movement against the government of Hamid Karzai.[7][8]

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.[7][8] As a result, it is assumed that the new Parliament will introduce some checks and balances on the Presidential power.[7][8]

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.[29]

In December 2011, the National Coalition of Afghanistan, supported by dozens of Afghan political parties and led by Abdullah, was formed to challenge the government of President Hamid Karzai. Major figures associated with the coalition include Yunus Qanuni (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 Mohammed Zahir, 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.[9]

Massoud Foundation[edit]

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[edit]

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%.[30] Abdullah and Ghani were then bound to compete in a run-off election in June 2014.[31] 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.[32]

On September 19, the Independent Election Commission announced Ghani the winner.[33] 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.[33] Part of the deal stipulated that the Independent Election Commission would not release the exact vote totals of the second round of voting.[33]

Chief Executive (2014–2020)[edit]

Following a close loss to Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the 2014 election, Abdullah became Chief Executive, a newly created position that encompasses prime ministerial powers.[17] Serving as Chief Executive, Abdullah has actively met with international business leaders and politicians alike, seeking foreign investment and support. He has further sought to implement a number of ceasefires with the Taliban.[34] Citing mistrust of the Taliban, Abdullah has taken a somewhat more hardline stance against the Taliban movement than his presidential counterpart Ashraf Ghani, noting a number of failed attempts at long-term peace.[34] In April 2019, Abdullah opted not to attend the Consultative Peace Jirga, noting that the Jirga was unlikely to resolve any issues.[35]

2019 presidential election[edit]

Incumbent Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah registered as a candidate for the 2019 Afghan presidential election. Abdullah selected Enayatullah Babur Farahmand as his First Vice President and Asadullah Sadati as Second Vice President.

After the election results showed that Ashraf Ghani was declared as the winner, Abdullah declared himself winner as well, sparking a political crisis and leading him to publicly state that he would form a parallel government.[36][37] On 9 March, both Abdullah and Ghani took the presidential oath of office at separate inauguration ceremonies.[38] The United States pressured the Afghan government to come up with a solution by cutting $1 billion of aid. This, with mounting international pressure and the threat of the Taliban, forced officials to strike a deal between Abdullah and Ghani. The deal left President Ghani in charge of executive power and created the High Council of National Reconciliation. Mr. Abdullah is head of The Council, where he will lead peace efforts with the Taliban.[39]

High Council for National Reconciliation (2020–present)[edit]

On 17 May 2020, a deal was reached where Abdullah was to lead the country's High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) as a Chairman.[40] Moreover, HCNR was given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to the Afghan peace process. The Council held its first meeting in December 2020, several months after its official creation, despite having incomplete membership and power struggles.[41]


In 2016, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron said Abdullah turned a corrupt country into a “fantastically” corrupt country.[42]


  1. ^ "Taliban talks in sight as Afghan political rivals end feud". Al Jazeera. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Abdullah Calls for Unity at Signing of Agreement with Ghani". Tolo News. 17 May 2020. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Ghani sworn in as Afghan president, rival holds own inauguration". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  6. ^ Cross, Tony (12 August 2009). "Abdullah Abdullah". Radio France Internationale. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  7. ^ a b c d "Afghan opposition says new parliament can check Karzai". Reuters. November 24, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d "2010 Afghan Parliamentary Election: Checks and Balances of Power". Khaama Press. December 9, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Afghanistan: New Coalition Challenges Karzai Government". 2011-12-23.
  10. ^ a b "iec: Presidential & Provincial Councils elections. Afghanistan 2014 Elections". 2016-06-23. Archived from the original on 2016-06-04.
  11. ^ "Afghanistan: In Afghan Election, Signs of Systemic Fraud Cast Doubt on Many Votes". 2016-06-23.
  12. ^ "Afghanistan: Afghan Presidential Election Deadlock Continues". 2016-06-23.
  13. ^ ".::2014 Afghanistan Elections Results::". iec.org.af. Archived from the original on 2017-04-15. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  14. ^ "Afghanistan: Afghan presidential contenders sign unity deal". 2016-06-23.
  15. ^ "Afghanistan: Inside John Kerry's Diplomatic Save in Afghanistan". 2016-06-23.
  16. ^ "Dr. Abdullah Abdullah". www.khaama.com. 26 Sep 2010. 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 Panjshir and my mother's from the Kabul Province. I have seven sisters and two brother.
  17. ^ a b "Profile: Abdullah Abdullah". 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  18. ^ Farmer, Ben (August 13, 2009). "Afghan election: Hamid Karzai's rival Abdullah Abdullah crosses ethnic divide". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  19. ^ "Poll shows Afghan vote headed for second round". Reuters. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
  20. ^ a b c Abdullah, Abdullah. "Dr. Abdullah Abdullah: In His Own Words". National Coalition of Afghanistan. Archived from the original on June 12, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  21. ^ Filkins, Dexter (2008). The Forever War. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-27034-4., p. 66.
  22. ^ "The Transition to Democracy in Afghanistan and the Challenges Ahead". Council on Foreign Relations. October 17, 2002. Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  23. ^ "Profile: Abdullah Abdullah". BBC News. 22 March 2006. Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  24. ^ Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin, 2005), 14.
  25. ^ a b "Massoud in the European Parliament 2001". EU media. 2001.
  26. ^ Farrell, Theo, Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan, 2001–2014, Bodley Head, 2017 ISBN 1847923461, 978-1847923462, P.81-82
  27. ^ "Afghan President Karzai appoints new cabinet". Pakistan Times. 24 December 2004. Archived from the original on 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  28. ^ "Why Karzai's Rival Abdullah Won't Budge on Runoff". Time. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  29. ^ "Abdullah Abdullah: Talks With Taliban Futile". National Public Radio (NPR). 2010-10-22.
  30. ^ "Afghan poll: Abdullah slightly ahead as count continues". BBC News. April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  31. ^ Nordland, Rod (26 April 2014). "Afghan Voters Signaling a Turn". New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  32. ^ "Abdullah insists he has won and refuses to accept vote audit". Radio Free Europe. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ a b "Afghanistan's Chief Executive – Abdullah Abdullah from HARDtalk". www.stitcher.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  35. ^ "Abdullah confirms he will not participate in Consultative Peace Jirga". The Khaama Press News Agency. 2019-04-14. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  36. ^ "Afghan President's Rival Threatens Parallel Inauguration After Disputed Election". The New York Times. Reuters. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Afghan election challenger Abdullah declares himself president, announces parallel government". France24. 18 February 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Amid Controversy, Ghani Takes Oath of Office". TOLOnews. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  39. ^ "Afghan Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Deal as Political Crisis Subsides".
  40. ^ https://www.yahoo.com/news/afghan-president-rival-agree-power-132416965.html
  41. ^ https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/en/tag/high-council-for-national-reconciliation/
  42. ^ "Afghanistan: What Is Abdullah's Problem?". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 3 August 2020.

External links[edit]

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
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Preceded by
Position established
Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan
Succeeded by
Position abolished