- Created: Wednesday, 06 May 2009 15:58
- Written by Jim Craven
Attacks by resistance fighters in Afghanistan during the early autumn were described by one British officer as ‘the most intensive fighting British forces had seen since the Korean War’. The frequency of attacks is now more than four times what it was a year ago, running at an average of 600 attacks each month. In October, Brigadier Ed Butler, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, admitted that his troops had come close to running out of supplies and that ‘some may have underestimated the tenacity and ferocity of the Taliban’. He now suggests imperialist forces may have to be in Afghanistan for 20 years. US Ambassador Ronald Neumann agrees, saying that the US would remain ‘multiple years’ and spend ‘multiple billions’ to avoid failure.
Resistance fighters are not just Taliban
To describe all those opposing the occupation of Afghanistan as Taliban is mere propaganda on the part of the imperialists. Anyone who opposes the puppet government of Hamid Karzai or the rampant corruption of its local officials are labelled Taliban. It is part of the same terror and divide and rule tactics the British have always used in counter-insurgency operations. So, for example, local warlords are sent to patrol tribesmen with whom they have blood feuds. When the tribesmen defend themselves or fight back they too are labelled Taliban.
On 19 October the first British death from a suicide bomb occurred. Such bombings are now frequent in Kabul. There were 106 in Afghanistan in the first ten months of 2006 alone as compared with just 17 in the whole of 2005. British troops have been forced to withdraw from the streets of Lashkar Gah and Gereshk because ‘suicide bombers are walking around looking for us’. A British soldier was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying: ‘It is a lot worse than people know back home. It is a massive cover-up really, to not get the real truth.’ By the beginning of November, 41 British troops had died in Afghanistan. They are being killed at a greater rate than in Iraq.
Resistance forces grow
Puppet Afghan president Hamid Karzai once claimed there were just ‘200 core fighters’ in the resistance. There are now so many volunteers from the Afghan refugee community in Pakistan and elsewhere wanting to join as fighters or suicide bombers that resistance leaders have had to restrict their flow across the border for fear of chaos. British Lt-Colonel Andy Price said ‘For every Taliban you kill you recruit three or four more’. Human Rights Watch point out that the growing number of non-combatants being killed in Afghanistan also fuels the resistance. On 26 October, 85 people were killed by a NATO bombing raid in the village of Panjwayi near Kandahar. Major Mark Knittig claimed that only 12 people were killed and that the attacks were against the Taliban. NATO had said the previous month that they had already cleared the area of Taliban. Knittig said ‘NATO always uses precision strikes’, but the raids consisted of four or five hours of bombing in which 25 homes were completely destroyed. Abdul Aye who lost 22 members of his family in the attack said: ‘These tragedies just keep continuing. There were no Taliban.’
Slaughter in Pakistan
In Pakistan, President Musharaff is facing mounting opposition because of his collaboration with the imperialists. He was forced to withdraw Pakistani troops from Waziristan, making it easier for resistance fighters to cross the nearby Afghan border. On 30 October, Pakistan launched a helicopter missile attack against a madrasa at Chingai on the border. At least 80 people were killed. Apart from their teacher all those slaughtered were young students, some as young as seven. The helicopters involved were reported as being from the US. The raid was almost certainly carried out at their insistence as a warning against any other opposition such as that at Waziristan. It took place just two miles from Damadda where a US Predator drone killed 19 Pakistanis in January.
Ruling class divided again
As problems mount for the occupying forces in Afghanistan the same divisions within the ruling classes and between the imperialist nations are emerging as have occurred over Iraq. Sir Richard Dannatt argued that NATO troops are better placed to contain fighting in Afghanistan than in Iraq, but ex-Chief of Staff General (Lord) Charles Guthrie described as ‘cuckoo’ Britain fighting in Afghanistan while still in Iraq. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said it was impossible to win in Afghanistan ‘by military means alone’. In September all the main NATO nations refused to send more troops to the south of Afghanistan. This resulted in the US having to transfer 12,000 troops from elsewhere in Afghanistan. By the end of October the US was again putting pressure on Spain, France, Italy and Germany to send more troops. These arguments are not just fuelled by the intensity of the fighting but by rivalries, as each imperialist nation jostles to take advantage of the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Record opium – little reconstruction
Poppy eradication was one of the excuses the imperialists gave for their occupation of Afghanistan. In October the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said the drugs situation was ‘out of control’. Opium cultivation rose by 59% last year to an all-time record level. The Afghan puppet government and army are riddled with drug barons. Afghanistan supplies 92% of the world’s opium. And what of the humanitarian and reconstruction projects that we were told were the true purpose of British forces in Afghanistan?…so far just one BBC report on a rather shabby drug rehabilitation centre that looked distinctly set up for the cameras. Projects by other agencies are collapsing. 30 aid workers have been killed this year. In November the World Food Programme announced it had no funds left to feed three million Afghanis this winter. Less than half the Afghan population now thinks the country is heading in the right direction. A small number of massively rich Afghanis are clearing away slum dwellers in Shirpur to build four and five storey mansions. The UN Development Programme says only four countries in the world are now poorer than Afghanistan.
FRFI 194 December 2006 / January 2007