Socialist Worker

Afghanistan’s occupiers fall apart under pressure

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2087

The occupation is crumbling, the country is on the edge of a humanitarian disaster and the Nato alliance is falling apart. That is the assessment of three reports into the war on Afghanistan six years on from the US invasion.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice travelled to London this week in a desperate attempt to shore up an occupation she once claimed “was winning”.

The emergency conference comes as Nato leaders have been openly bickering about who should send troops and equipment.

Stalemate

A recent report by the right wing thinktank The Atlantic Council found that “a stalemate of sorts has taken hold. Nato and Afghan forces cannot be beaten by the insurgency or by the Taliban.

“Neither can our forces eliminate the Taliban by military means as long as they have sanctuary in Pakistan.”

The council found that “civil sector reform is in serious trouble.

Little coordination exists among the many disparate international organisations and agencies active in Afghanistan.”

The coalition had hoped that the appointment of Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, as “grand coordinator” would bypass the massive levels of corruption in the US-imposed Afghan government.

But president Hamid Karzai refused to allow the appointment, releasing instead a memory stick seized from British agents that allegedly proves the British government was secretly negotiating with the Taliban.

The influential Afghanistan Study Group gives a bleak assessment of the occupation.

It describes “resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, mounting regional challenges and a growing lack of confidence on the part of the Afghan people about the future direction of their country”.

The US announced that it had no more soldiers to send and demanded that Germany provide troops and helicopters. The Germans refused.

Lies

Canada, which has been engaged in heavy fighting against the insurgency, warned that it would pull its troops out if other Nato countries did not commit their forces. But none have been forthcoming.

The public rows reveal the scale of lies over the occupation.

Western states had previously maintained that although the occupation of Iraq was facing defeat, the war in Afghanistan was being won. Now they have been forced to come clean on the levels of corruption, mismanagement and military disaster facing the country.

According to the United Nations there are 130,000 “long-term displaced people” in Afghanistan. Reconstruction projects have stalled and the economy is in ruins.

Oxfam warned that “millions of Afghans, particularly in rural areas, still face severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa”.

The British charity blamed the US for this disaster.

It said, “The US Agency for International Development allocates close to half of its funds to five large US contractors in the country.”

As Nato leaders gathered for their emergency meeting, new reports emerged of the mounting civilian death toll.

In the latest incident, Nato troops killed ten people in Farah province, south western Afghanistan.

According to Afghan authorities women and children were among the dead.

In another incident in the Helmand province, Italian troops killed a “Taliban commander”, his wife and young daughter.

Human Rights Watch has been warning that civilian casualties are set to rise as the number of airstrikes increases.

In 2006 an average of 20,000 pounds of bombs were dropped on Afghanistan per month – in 2007 this rose to 100,000 pounds.


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Tue 5 Feb 2008, 18:05 GMT
Issue No. 2087
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