Afghanistan: Taliban strike at will

FRFI 223 October/November 2011

The assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul on 20 September underlined the failings of US and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strategy in Afghanistan. Rabbani, who led the Mujahideen against Soviet Union forces in the 1970s, was being used by the puppet Afghan government to seek reconciliation with sections of the Taliban. A faction of the Taliban is thought to have killed him. The US says that it intends to transfer security to the Afghan forces by 2014. In order to do that it must either substantially weaken the Taliban or draw them into a political agreement with the government.

There have been 26 major Taliban attacks on Kabul since 2008. In June this year the Intercontinental Hotel, favourite conference venue for westerners, was attacked. In August the British Consulate was targeted. On 13 September the US embassy and ISAF were attacked in an operation lasting 24 hours. This could not have been mounted without the infiltration of Afghanistan government forces. The Taliban are showing that they can strike where and when they want.

In the first half of 2011 the desertion rate from the Afghan army doubled to 24,590 soldiers. The imperialists are unable to dictate terms to the anti-occupation forces and have nothing approaching a stable and reliable set of government institutions they can hand over to. The imperialists’ response to the continuing anti-occupation struggle is to intensify their military operations, including drone strikes across the Pakistan border and raids on Afghan communities. US forces are stepping up the use of night raids, rounding up as many as 100 people at a time and having masked informants point people out for interrogation. This may result in civilian deaths and anger is building up among the people against the occupation armies.

Since 2001 1,701 US and 382 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan; Canada has lost 156 soldiers, France 75, Germany 56, Italy 44 and soldiers from a further 22 countries have been killed in Afghanistan. The numbers of Afghanistan’s people killed are not counted by ISAF or known to the Afghanistan government. There is no prospect of an end to the killing until the occupation armies leave Afghanistan.

Trevor Rayne


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