On October 24 a reported 10,000 Afghans chanting “Death to the barbarian Taliban and Americans” protested the Taliban’s execution of 26 young men. Claiming responsibility, a Taliban spokesman said they were Afghan security-force recruits. But a witness told Agence France Presse, “They were innocent civilians who wanted jobs…on their way to Iran.”
On November 5, U.S. warplanes, allegedly targeting Taliban, bombed an Afghan wedding party, killing 37 (including 23 children). A day later 30 more civilians died in another U.S. air attack.
The unprecedented size of the anti-Taliban rally reflects Afghans’ anger at the barbarity of both sides in a war in which they are increasingly the victims. A survey by The International Council on Security and Development found that six of ten Afghans want foreign troops out. Yet president-elect Barack Obama pledges to send 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
For Afghans, seven years of U.S.-NATO occupation has meant more deaths, and worsening economic conditions. In some areas, 80% live below the poverty line. One in five children dies before the age of five. Millions face famine the winter. Food prices have skyrocketed.
Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world’s heroin. Addiction is rising, even among women and children. Cheap and readily available heroin replaces costly medicine and is used as an antidote against despair. Tent cities ring the capital next to mansions built from narco-trafficking. Billions in foreign aid go to profiteers, not the needy.
In 2001, the U.S. returned Northern Alliance Fundamentalists to power — warlords and former jihadists who view women as domestic slaves and procreators. They’re now an 80% majority in parliament in the world’s most dangerous country for women. Gang rape, murder, abduction of girls and women go unpunished, as do killings of female teachers, activists and professionals. Women trying to escape violent husbands and families are jailed.
The Taliban’s growing military strength, its deployment of suicide bombers and roadside explosives, is leading to an increasingly dangerous battlefield for occupying forces, especially in southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban fighting force swells when necessary with locals willing to fight for cash.
The Taliban are also fighting for political and economic power, challenging the U.S.-installed, puppet president, Hamid Karzai, and the warlords and drug czars in government positions whose access to international funds and resources has made them extremely wealthy.
A coalition of Karzai’s parliamentary rivals — the United National Front — want an international effort to settle the civil war. But the U.S. opposes this and, aided by the Saudis, is quietly working to include “moderate” Taliban in the Karzai government. Recently the heads of the CIA and ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) met in Washington. They discussed isolating Pakistan’s “moderate” Taliban from the militants and Al Qaeda who are engaged in a brutal war with the Pakistani army in the tribal region that has left many dead and more than 300,000 homeless.
While talking “reconciliation,” the U.S. has been widening the war: 300 U.S. military advisors now train Pakistani counter-insurgency troops on U.S.-purchased land near Pakistan’s capital. Since July the U.S. military has bombed Pakistani locations where it claims Afghan Taliban have safe havens. Despite Pakistani government protests, the attacks continue, killing many civilians, escalating the conflict on both sides of the border and foreshadowing a break-up of the region into ethnic enclaves.
The U.S. calls its escalation a continuation of “the war on terror” but it’s really a dogfight with imperialist rivals, primarily Russia, but also China and Iran, for control of Central Asia’s oil and gas fields as well as enhancing the profits of its multi-national corporations.
Former Pakistan Army Chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, suspects the U.S. wants to end Pakistani control of the tribal areas and Balouchistan, a Pakistani province bordering Iran and Afghanistan where the U.S. is secretly training Balouchistan separatists. The Taliban might then be offered a deal: an independent state carved from both sides of the Afghan/Pakistan border. Balouchistan would become a U.S client state and the U.S. would build a long-anticipated pipeline from Central Asia through a stabilized Afghanistan and Balouchistan to the Arabian Sea.
In the 1970s, there were country-wide uprisings by peasants and strikes by workers in government printing shops, textile mills, cement plants, mines, transportation and on construction sites. Many fought against the ruling class which used religion to oppress workers and peasants. Women were particularly exploited, virtual slaves to their husbands and families; they worked at home, on the land, and produced handicrafts for additional family income.
We in PLP are trying to learn from the achievements and mistakes of the old communist movement, in order to advance the struggle against all the imperialists and their cohorts (be they Jihadists, state-capitalists or free marketers). We call on the workers and peasants of Afghanistan, who had fought and still fight against the fundamentalists, drug warlords and various imperialist puppets like President Karzai, to join with us in rebuilding an international communist movement to smash capitalism in all its forms.