After the U.S. Invasion: The Nightmare in Afghanistan

Revolutionary Worker #1214, October 5, 2003, posted at

We received the following from A World to Win News Service.

8 September 2003. A World to Win News Service.An escalating Taliban offensive has added to the difficulties of the Karzai government in controlling Afghanistan. The Taliban are taking advantage of the seething discontent of the millions of people who have seen no positive change since the U.S.-led invasion, despite all the West's fine promises. Most people have lost hope in the government and its imperialist backers.

There were three separate Taliban attacks on August 13. On August 17, more than 400 fighters in a truck convoy attacked a police headquarters in southeastern Afghanistan. It was one of the largest shows of anti-government force in over a year. Previous battles usually involved a dozen fighters. Mid-August independence day celebrations were marked by attacks on aid workers and security forces and an explosion. On August 31, two American soldiers died in a gun battle in eastern Afghanistan as hundreds of Taliban fighters poured into the southern mountains to join a week-long battle against government and U.S. forces. The U.S. launched a counter-offensive in Dai Chupan in Zabul province September 1. According to Afghan government officials, U.S. warplanes bombed a mountain hideout near Dozai, killing at least 14 of the insurgents. The fighting has since spilled into other areas in the district. The clashes involve up to 1,000 U.S.-led Afghan troops and a similar number of Taliban guerrillas. Almost 600 American GIs were fighting in Paktika province near Pakistan, local officials said. The U.S. reports that four of its soldiers were killed in less than two weeks.

The ongoing power struggle within the Afghanistan government, the lack of government control outside Kabul, and the recent fierce fighting on top of that underscore just how unstable Afghanistan remains. Many aid organizations have halted their activities, complaining that the situation is deteriorating. And this after so much talk about "liberating Afghanistan"!

The masses who suffered under the Taliban before now have to endure all sorts of reactionary forces--warlords and their cruel soldiers, gangs and thieves, imperialist armies and a faction-ridden government unable to do anything for the people--and now the return of the Taliban as well. They have no jobs, no homes, no land, no water, no health care, no security, nothing but poverty and hardship. A situation stamped with the brand name " Made in USA." The U.S. is trying to export it to other oppressed countries. That's what they are doing in Iraq and want to do in Iran, possibly Syria, North Korea and...

The present instability of Afghanistan cannot be analyzed without considering the historical background.

Afghanistan has been at the center of many of the world's contradictions, especially the rivalry between the great powers. The country marks the dividing line between Central Asia, historically dominated by Russia, and South Asia, dominated by the British and then the U.S.. For the British, Afghanistan was the gate to Central Asia. For Russia, it was the gate to South Asia and the open sea to the south. Afghanistan has long been a strategic prize for great powers anxious to expand their regional domination. This contention has been the source of instability for more than a century. It cost Afghanistan's people many generations caught between the fires of the imperialists and their lackeys. (The exception was the period when the USSR was socialist. During those decades the Soviet Union had no designs on Afghanistan and there were several decades of relative calm.)

From the mid-19th century up to 1919, the year of Afghanistan's independence, contention between Britain and Tsarist Russia led to three wars as the people of Afghanistan heroically fought against the British. Then when revisionists seized power in the USSR after the death of Stalin, the Soviet Union began working to gain influence in Afghanistan. Soviet-backed Afghan forces took power in a coup in 1978, and when their government collapsed the USSR invaded. The U.S. and other Western powers supported Islamic fundamentalists and armed them against the USSR.

Using the attack of September 11, 2001 as a pretext, the U.S. tried to take advantage of its position as the only superpower to finalize the situation in Afghanistan. The aim was to ensure the stability of the Afghanistan according to its own imperialistic interests and pave the way for expanding American hegemony in Central Asia and the Middle East. But events proved this was harder than the U.S. ruling class initially thought.

Russia still considers Central Asia its area of domination and Afghanistan as its backyard. It could not tolerate U.S. advances towards its area of control. As a result, it has stepped up its support for the forces it backs in the power struggles within the Afghanistan government. For example, Defense Minister General Qasim Fahim is said to have good relations with Russia. No wonder there was a $40 million military deal between Russia and Jamiat-e-Islami, the powerful former Northern Alliance faction of which Fahim is a main leader. The contract calls for Russia to provide transport helicopters, gunships and spare parts directly to Fahim's ministry rather than the Afghan National Army.

Other European imperialists no less eager to increase their influence in Afghanistan have nourished relations with certain opposition forces since the time of the Taliban. France in particular had a close relationship with Ahmad Shah Massoud, an important Northern Alliance commander and ex-Defense Minister before the Taliban. In fact, France is about to issue a stamp commemorating the death of its favorite warlord two years ago. Massoud's Jamiat-e-Islami organization continues to have good relations with France and other European powers. After the U.S.-led 2001 invasion, the European countries sent their troops under UN and NATO flags to control Kabul. They have been asking for the expansion of the UN mandate to allow them to operate outside Kabul, so they could expand their control in Afghanistan. The tension between U.S. imperialism and its European allies has been visible from the beginning. The U.S. and UK have made every effort to restrict the role of the continental European countries in Afghanistan.

In addition to the imperialist powers, other reactionary countries in the region are also interfering in Afghanistan. Pakistan is in the forefront. Its generals were the main promoters of the Taliban and, on American instructions, gave them vigorous help to seize power. After the fall of Taliban, they have allegedly been helping the Taliban regroup and use Pakistan's border region as a base for operations inside Afghanistan. Pakistan was the biggest loser with the fall of the Taliban. The relationship between Pakistan and the Jamiat-e-Islami coalition, the dominant force in Afghanistan, is not very good. Pakistan's main concern is that it is locked in confrontation with India on one border and cannot afford to have hostile forces on the other. Pakistan has always been a close ally of the U.S., but it is well known that with or without the consent of the U.S. or even the Pakistani government, many high-ranking army officials still support the Taliban.

From the other side, Iran has provided military aid to the private militia of Ismail Khan, the governor of the western Afghan province of Herat. Huge amounts of imported goods are flooding into that region. The Islamic Republic of Iran also is trying to use the religious similarity to influence forces like Hezareh Jat, and is training and financing Islamic groups in central and northwestern Afghanistan like Sepah-e Mohammad and Sepah-e Quds. The Iranian regime also has good relations with Hezbe Vahdat, the organization ruling in Ghazni and Bamyan (Hezareh).

India is also trying to gain influence in Jamiat-e-Islami to expand its regional influence in competition with Pakistan.

Turkey and Uzbekistan are eager to revive their support for General Doustum, a Northern Alliance member who is an adversary of other forces within the Alliance, and would like to boost him in the power struggle.

These facts show that the warlords are only small pawns in a "Great Game" played by big powers and other reactionary states. The biggest players are the U.S., the main occupier, and the other imperialists who have sent their troops. This is the source of all the instability. History gives little reason to think that any big power occupation or puppet regime could bring peace and stability, let alone the social change Afghanistan's people so badly need. Because the imperialist powers, especially, have always strengthened and worked through the country's most backward, feudalistic forces, its people will not be able to get out of hell until they themselves take power in their own hands.

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