Socialist Worker

Crisis grows for occupiers in Afghanistan

Issue No. 2137

Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House has had a bloody beginning. January has seen the highest number of coalition troop casualties in Afghanistan.

Some 24 troops have been killed, and Afghan villages have been bombed, at a time when fighting usually pauses for winter.

According to Afghan officials, three operations by US special forces last week claimed the lives of 50 civilians.

Afghans can be forgiven for thinking that little has changed in the occupation of their country since Obama replaced George Bush.

Obama has kept Robert Gates as defence secretary. He is putting in place the “surge” strategy championed by Bush.

This involves transferring 30,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to take part in an offensive against insurgents.

Obama is also finding it difficult to raise extra troops from among allies in the Nato military alliance.

The new US government is planning to dump Hamid Karzai, the hapless Afghan leader put in place after the 2001 invasion. It wants to use upcoming national elections to get rid of him.


The US military accuses Karzai of failing to clampdown on drug running and corruption. But it is also unhappy that he is beginning to question the US and Nato.

In response to widescale bombing of villages, Karzai has demanded that Afghan authorities be consulted before any military operation. This does does fit with the new surge strategy.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, and a leading neoconservative, is rumoured to be his likely replacement.

Meanwhile the war in Afghanistan continues to spill over into northern Pakistan. Pakistani troops have launched a fresh offensive on the restive tribal areas and strategically important Swat Valley.

Whatever the outcome of the elections in Afghanistan, the country is set for another round of bloodshed as the new surge rolls out.

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Tue 3 Feb 2009, 18:26 GMT
Issue No. 2137
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