Afghanistan: the Union flag is lowered

On 26 October the Union flag was lowered over Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. 453 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 615 have been seriously or very seriously wounded and 2,187 wounded in action. The US military death toll stands at 2,349 soldiers. The war has cost British governments about £40bn. The number of Afghan civilians killed in the first half of 2014 was almost 5,000 people, a rise of 25% on 2013 levels. We were told that British forces were leaving Afghanistan after 13 years, and that the US combat mission would end on 31 December 2014, but things are not like that at all.

After six months of wrangling, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadai was sworn in as successor to President Hamid Karzai on 29 September 2014. Ghani received a Master’s degree from Columbia University, New York, then taught at a US university before joining the World Bank in 1991. Karzai had refused to sign a Security and Defence Cooperation Agreement with the US. The day after Ghani’s inauguration the Agreement was signed, giving US forces total immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan and permitting 10,000 US troops to remain there until 2024 and beyond. The US will keep over a dozen military bases in the country, from which it can threaten Iran, Russia and China and continue operations in Afghanistan. In exchange the Afghan government is to receive $4bn annually, which will disappear in to assorted pockets of politicians, generals and drug lords. NATO then signed a Status of Forces Agreement with the new president allowing up to 5,000 mainly British, German, Italian and Turkish soldiers to stay in Afghanistan.

In 2001 Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair said that a significant reason for invading Afghanistan was to end the heroin trade, ‘The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for by the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets. This is another part of their regime we should seek to destroy.’ A United Nations’ survey published in November 2014 states that Afghanistan’s opium production is at record levels, up nearly 50% since 2012. Opium eradication was cut by 63% from 2013 to 2014 as politicians demanded election campaign cash. From Vietnam in the 1960s to Colombia and Nicaragua in the 1980s to Afghanistan today, the imperialists’ intelligence agencies have used the drug trade to buy allies and wage war.

Trevor Rayne


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