Afghanistan continues to suffer under its colonial masters

American bomb damage in AfghanistanIn the aftermath of the events of 11th September 2001, Afghanistan became the first target in the brutality that has become America's ‘War on Terror' launched by George W Bush. Today, six years on and watching the events unfold, one might be forgiven for thinking that we are still sitting in the early part of the year 2002. The recent joint assault on Musa Qala to recapture control from the Taliban by NATO, American, British and Afghan forces, a town on the foothills in the province of Helmand in southern Afghanistan, has seen many thousands of civilians flee from the battle scene in the last few weeks in anticipation of the attack. Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's carefully scripted arrival in Afghanistan to coincide with the ‘capture' of Musa Qala, a blatant piece of cheap triumphalism, cannot mask the fact that the objectives the West set for itself in terms of successfully occupying this Muslim country, have been an abject failure. Six years on the armies of the colonialist nations that invaded and occupied Afghanistan are having to fight over the same territory again.
The fact is that the initial declaration of victory in early 2002 and the subsequent installation of the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai has been nothing but a paper victory. The Taliban regime may have been forced from power with the force of B-52s from the air but on the ground the reality is that NATO forces did not capture power; they paid for victory by bribing the notorious bandit warlords of Afghanistan, many of whom were already aligned with the previously Russian backed Northern Alliance. These warlords have always controlled most of the drug production and criminal activities in Afghanistan, just as they did before. Warlord militia activities have ensured that Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous and crime ridden places in the world today.

One has to look no further than the recent expulsions of two European diplomats to observe the weakness in the NATO and western position. Expelled by the Afghan regime for conducting secret negotiations with the Taliban, it demonstrates the fact that the largely northern alliance composed regime is nervous over the fact that the West has begun to try to strike a deal with the Taliban. It also shows that NATO forces do not have strong military control in Afghanistan. The fact that it remains dependent upon the co-operation of mercenary warlords, will mean it cannot enforce it's will where it clashes with their vital interests. Recent reports also show that despite the rhetoric emerging from the British government, it too is also trying to come to a deal with the Taliban. Even the US ambassador in Afghanistan has backed such efforts. Hamid Karzai, the puppet Afghani regime leader, was recently reduced to the spectacle of appealing for ‘forgiveness' for the Taliban. Western government's ever standing desire for securing their interests ensures pragmatism and expediency will always trump any apparent loyalty to any principle or anyone.

Civilians Killed

In this political game, it is the ordinary Muslims of Afghanistan who are having to suffer and bear their brunt as well being exposed to the ‘collateral damage' of western occupying armies. Just recently US forces bombed and killed 22 Afghan labourers who were ironically building a new road for the US military. In the past months there have been increasing civilian deaths at the hands of NATO and American forces. As the US and UK have faced increasing resistance throughout much of Afghanistan, particularly led by the Pashtuns, western forces have increasingly used airstrikes in desperation to control the situation with their limited troops on the ground. The blood of the Muslims in Afghanistan has no value and is being spilt with increasing impunity.

In Afghanistan nothing has changed and the problems of Afghanistan remain as insurmountable as ever. Previously it was the Soviet Union that destroyed Afghanistan and it's people with it's occupation from 1979 to 1989. Before that it was the effects of British-Russian rivalry, termed the Great Game, for control of Afghanistan starting in the 19th century. Presently, the western promise of a ‘liberal democracy' has been exposed as a sham; the West's only interest is in occupying and controlling Afghanistan, which it sees as a pivotal and strategic holding ground in the quest for the riches of Central Asia and to stem the rise of China and an increasingly aggressive and resurgent Russia. The puppet government of Hamid Karzai is an indispensable tool needed for cosmetic political purposes; stage managed elections in a country torn by war and in the grip of foreign occupiers is meaningless. Real power lies with the foreign western occupiers and the notorious warlords in the country who have conveniently aligned themselves with the puppet regime.

An examination of the resources actually devoted by the West to it's occupation of Afghanistan is an eye-opener. The Americans have deployed 26,000 troops in the country, with 14,000 under the direct command of NATO. The British have about 8000 troops, with the promise of more to come. The rest of NATO or ISAF, composed of Canada and other European countries, have further troops, which bring the total number of foreign troops to about 50,000. In Iraq, a country that has a population of about 27 million people and a landmass of 440,000 square kilometres, America has 160,000 troops with another 150,000 private contractors. Yet despite this, America still cannot control the country. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, it deployed up to 150,000 troops which history shows was insufficient and was defeated. In Afghanistan, which has a population of 31 million and a landmass nearly 50% more than Iraq, how is it possible that with just 50,000 troops, under diverse command structures, can the West can expect to control such a large country?

The answer is that the West does not expect to control Afghanistan by itself nor is overall control necessarily the key objective. What is more important is to secure tacit agreement with the key players in Afghanistan such as the warlords and secure direct control of the key areas of Afghanistan that are physically required for oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and strategically projecting Western power to curb Russia, China and Iran in the region. This is why for example all of the British troops deployed in Afghanistan are mainly in the Helmand province, just short of Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and adjacent to Pakistan. The proposed Trans-Afghan (TAP) gas pipeline route from Turkmenistan would run through this part of Afghanistan, passing through Heart and Kandahar and onwards to Quetta in Pakistan, with it's eventual termination in India. An alternative route is also proposed to run through northern Afghanistan via Kabul entering Pakistan through the NWFP tribal areas.

This is the reason why western states are so determined to stay and fight in Afghanistan. The US army before the events of September 2001 was publishing papers on the strategic importance of this region and preparing military strategies. It also explains why it is so concerned about Pakistan's tribal areas. If the TAP pipeline is to run through Pakistan, it needs to end support for the Afghan resistance emanating from there, from fellow ethnic Pushtun tribesman. Having troops in Afghanistan also leaves the option open of providing a base for operations against Pakistani territory should that be needed given the crisis developing in Pakistan. The overthrow of the American backed puppet regime of General Pervaiz Musharraf is becoming an increasing reality day by day.

Colonial Differences

The occupation of Afghanistan has failed. Even amongst themselves, supposed occupation stakeholders such as Germany, Spain, Holland and Italy are reluctant to commit more troops, particularly to Southern Afghanistan, much to dismay of America and Britain. However their desire to gain access to the immense wealth of the surrounding areas is the overriding factor in their policy towards Afghanistan and the region. The overthrow of the Taliban was the essential first step in this policy. However, the Muslims of Afghanistan, particularly those of Pushtun origin, have fought back against the occupation of their land. This has left NATO forces frustrated with it's progress and looking for alternative means. America bogged down in Iraq, has been trying to get the Pakistan army to do it's bidding in the tribal areas.

The reality is that Afghanistan has actually become more lawless and dangerous since invasion and occupation by the US and its allies. It is the ordinary people of Afghanistan who are the ones that are having to face the consequences and pay a terrible price. Almost not a day goes by without there being reports of further losses of innocent life at the hands of the western occupiers, conveniently dismissed as ‘unfortunate but necessary'. These foreign troops are not interested in helping anyone but themselves as they eye the wealth of the region, as they always done in such past colonial invasions. Even the West's claim about progress is false; Afghanistan has seen the growth of Poppy and Heroin production reach record levels. In contrast, the Taliban were reported by the UN at one point to have almost totally eradicated Opium production in Afghanistan.

The only way peace will return to the Muslims of Afghanistan is with the removal of all foreign occupying forces from Afghanistan. This can only happen if the Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia re-establish the Khilafah that will sincerely work for the security and prosperity of it's citizens as laid down by Allah's messenger (saw). Until that time, the West and others will to continue to ruthlessly colonise and exploit the Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere.