Afghanistan

In the bourgeois media today, Afghanistan is portrayed only in relation to Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, warlords and drug cartels. While these ills are a sad fact of life in Afghanistan today, that was not always the case. 40 years ago, a revolution almost shook the country out of its backwardness, only to be thrown back after the imperialist-backed, fundamentalist counter-revolution. To understand the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the rise of the reactionary forces, it is necessary to understand the rise and fall of the Saur revolution in Afghanistan in 1978.

The last reports on Tuesday evening suggested that the Afghan government had suffered a serious setback after a Taliban offensive succeeded in taking control of much of Sangin, a strategic town in the Helmand province.

The recent visit of Pakistan’s military chief previous Sunday has been shrouded in mystery and marked by controversies ever since it was announced.  Apparently instigated by General Raheel Sharif, it comes just weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office to discuss many of the same issues said to be on his army chief's agenda, including Afghan peace talks and Pakistan's nuclear ambitions.

In the past couple of weeks, unprecedented events had been unfolding in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in the streets of Kabul to protest against the gruesome beheading of 7 people, all whom were ethnically Hazara.

The final round of the presidential elections in Afghanistan, and the “deal” between the two “front runners”, on September 21, was so feeble, and the outcome so rotten, that even bourgeois analysts and reporters had to designate them as pathetic and repulsive.

Just hours before the beginning of the peace talks between the Taliban and the US delegation in Qatar the mercurial Afghan President Karzai suspended talks on a long-term security deal to keep US troops in Afghanistan after NATO leaves in 2014.

The recent atrocities in Afghanistan have once again thrown the Afghan war into the headlines. The latest murders in Kandahar province, where 16 innocent Afghans, including nine children, were shot dead by a rampaging US staff sergeant, have further added to the turmoil and agony of the region. It has served to intensify the mass opposition to foreign occupation, which while promising “democracy”, has drought catastrophe in its wake.

The massacre of sixteen civilians, including children, by a 38-year old US sergeant, reportedly taking part in a “village stabilisation” operation in Kandahar, Afghanistan, exposes the real nature of this so-called “good war”. As with other imperialist wars, this is a blatant aggression for profit and plunder on the part of the imperialist elites.

As the confrontation between the “allies” – US and Pakistan – in the “War on Terror” worsens, the prospect of any fruitful outcome to this war of attrition fades further away. The bloody conflict in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan rages on. The colossal collateral damage caused by imperialist bombings and drone attacks, in reality means the brutal extermination of thousands of innocent souls. The fundamentalist terror doesn’t spare the ordinary people either.

The split between the US generals and politicians could not have come at a worse time. The sacking of McChrystal just at the beginning of the fighting season could disrupt the entire counter-insurgency campaign, which was already going badly. The fact is that a military victory is out of the question. The greatest military power in the world is now overstretched in the region.

After eight years of war in Afghanistan, the inability of Western imperialism to quell the insurgency has entered into a period of crisis. Cracks and divisions within the central government are becoming more and more critical as the military and political situation becomes ever more unstable. Major conflicts within Afghanistan’s Western-backed ruling clique were first brought to a head in August during the presidential elections. The accusations of fraud have left Karzai’s grip on power extremely strained and have left Karzai wondering whether the NATO mission is more hindrance than help.

The western military presence in Afghanistan is presented as a means of pushing the country towards “democracy” and “progress”. Nothing could be further from the truth! The elections earlier this year were a sham. The system being propped up by western troops is utterly corrupt. Here an Afghan reader of our site comments on the situation.

With the latest news of the 100th death this year of a British soldier in Afghanistan, this imperialist adventure is getting more and more unpopular. In an article published in the current issue of Socialist Appeal published at the end of November, Rob Sewell looks at the latest situation and its background of a war that can never deliver social and economic progress to the Afghan people.

The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan are fighting an unwinnable war. This fact is seeping into the consciousness of millions of people in the west who are now opposed to the war. But also in Afghanistan there are signs that the ordinary people are tired of both the imperialist occupation forces and the Taliban. The only alternative to the present barbarism is the struggle for a socialist federation of South Asia, which would include a socialist Afghanistan.

On Thursday, August 20, 2009, Afghanistan held its provincial and presidential elections. This is the second presidential election since the occupation of the country began in 2001. While a winner has yet to be declared, many predicted that incumbent Hamid Karzai would win outright in the first round of the election, although recent reports suggest a second round of voting is possible. Regardless of who is elected, they will be backed by the US-led NATO occupation forces, who aren’t planning on leaving any time soon.

Afghanistan is entering a period of acute crisis that could put the final nail in the coffin of the imperialist intervention there. Contradictions in the military and political situation have been building beneath the surface for years. The inability of NATO to defeat the Taliban is a direct reflection of the corruption, nepotism, and incompetence of the Karzai regime.

The war in Afghanistan has re-emerged in the headlines as casualty rates for American and British forces have now reached their highest since the invasion of Afghanistan. Already more than one hundred American troops have been killed since the beginning of this year alone, whilst in Britain the news has been dominated by the deaths of eight soldiers who were killed in twenty four hours over the weekend.