- Created: Wednesday, 09 December 2009 11:18
- Written by Jim Craven and Trevor Rayne
FRFI 211 October / November 2009
The imperialists intended the 20 August presidential elections to give a cloak of legitimacy to the Afghan government and their forces’ occupation of the country, but the outcome has further undermined the credibility of both. Ballots from over 600 polling stations have been quarantined and there are 720 major charges of electoral fraud. President Karzai is exposed as a cheat. In September US General Stanley McChrystal’s report to the Pentagon on the situation in Afghanistan was leaked; it describes a failing military endeavour, a corrupt government without popular support and time running out fast for the invaders. Despite deploying extra troops and launching intensive campaigns over the summer, the occupying forces have been fought to a standstill. On 21 September the 217th British soldier was killed in
By means of their superior fire power, the imperialists had hoped to clear areas of Taliban and other anti-occupation forces. The plan was to hold these areas while pushing back the Taliban still further so that the cleared ‘oil spots’ gradually spread and coalesced into larger regions under imperialist control, a tactic sometimes called ‘clear, hold, build’. The anti-occupation forces, however, are guerrilla fighters, able to withdraw from conflict whenever they consider the enemy too strong. They can simply melt back into the mountains or the villages and people from whom they receive support and later direct their attacks elsewhere. When some British troops were pulled out of Sangin in the summer to join Operation Panther’s Claw in
The imperialists do not have sufficient forces to control areas they do capture. They need the support of tribal leaders and the local people. But local leaders often prove unreliable allies, ready to switch allegiances, either for safety or to line their pockets. And among the Afghan people support for the Taliban is widespread, many finding them preferable to the corrupt and incompetent Afghan government. Polls demonstrate that more than half the Afghan population is now opposed to the imperialist occupation. In
Having to constantly switch between one battle zone and the next, to defend ground and pursue the enemy, the imperialists depend on rapid movement of their inadequate resources together with maintaining the lines of communication and supply that such movement demands. The anti-occupation forces have paralysed this movement by the simple expedient of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – mines and booby-trapped bombs. At times, US/NATO convoys are reduced to a snail’s pace because they must be preceded by bomb detection teams working on foot. Many of the recent casualties have been caused by IEDs that weren’t found. Speaking of these horrific deaths the Welsh Guard said, ‘Each death is zipped up in a mental body bag. However, unlike a real body bag, which fortunately disappears, that mental body bag remains in the morgue of your subconscious.’
More airpower would help overcome these problems for the imperialist forces, but they do not have enough helicopters. Because of equipment shortages, troops expend an enormous number of hours and manpower just standing still. In an army where recruits are led to expect their superior armaments will ensure easy victories and rapid advances, such impotence is bound to undermine morale. It appears the imperialist troops are becoming psychologically as well as physically paralysed. As Mao pointed out, in guerrilla warfare the mindset of the enemy, not weaponry, is the determining factor for victory.
Air strikes have increased since President Obama took office, but they carry with them further problems for the imperialist strategy. Indiscriminate bombings have massacred thousands of Afghan civilians and become a major source of opposition to the occupation. On 4 September, 119 people, including scores of children and other civilians were killed in a fireball when a German commander called in US F-15 fighters to attack two hijacked oil tankers in Kunduz. The Guardian described it as the ‘deadliest military operation by
General McChrystal intends the occupation forces to change strategy and fight a counter-insurgency war with ‘less armour and less distance from the population... personnel must be seen as guests of the Afghan people and their government, not an occupying army’. The concept of US and NATO armies being ‘guests’ would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Anti-occupation forces will exploit any attempt by the occupiers to get close to the population and will use civilians to move material, as the Vietnamese did against the
War propaganda and electoral farce
With the almost weekly return of dead servicemen and women, the failure to make military progress and the ongoing criticism of equipment and strategy, support for the war is dwindling in the imperialist countries. Polls show that more than half the
Attempts to present the war as a means of bringing democracy to the country are patently ludicrous. The presidential election in August, described by the Afghan woman MP Malalai Joya as a ‘show... put on by and for the West to legitimise its future puppet in
To bolster his support, President Karzai invited home from exile in
Women’s barbaric treatment
After eight years of imperialist occupation conditions remain grim for the Afghan people with among the worst poverty, illiteracy, health, infant mortality and malnutrition in the world. But life for Afghan women is even worse. 85% of them have no formal education. According to Women for Women International, 80% of Afghan women are affected by domestic violence, almost half are forced into marriage before the age of 16 (some as young as nine) and 47% say they need their husband’s or family’s permission to walk down the street. Where women are allowed to work, their wages are just one third of men’s. In rural areas, up to 90% of women have no health care. Life expectancy is 44 years. The maternal mortality rate is between 1,600 and 1,900 deaths per hundred thousand live births, which means one Afghan woman dies in childbirth every 30 minutes. In areas controlled by the Taliban there are reports that girls are not allowed to attend school nor women to work and that there are severe punishments for women who contravene Sharia law.
Probably the most abhorrent aspect of Karzai’s election campaign was his agreement to pass the Personal Status Law to placate Shia religious leaders. The law legitimises rape. It allows Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if the women don’t submit to the men’s sexual demands and it permits rapists to avoid prosecution by paying ‘blood money’. The law also grants the guardianship of children exclusively to fathers and grandfathers and gives husbands the right to forbid their wives from working or even going out of the house. The law contradicts the so-called Afghan constitution and international treaties that
Given the vacuity of any claim to be bringing democracy and human rights to
The imperialists show no signs of pulling out.
In stark contrast, the