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Proletarian issue 47 (April 2012)
Afghanistan: imperialism in panic-buy for an escape route
With time running out for imperialism’s bloody Afghan adventure, Britain and the United States are desperately seeking to conclude last-minute deals with a host of central Asian countries in a bid to extricate themselves (and billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment) from their Afghan nightmare.
Under intense pressure from the forces of national liberation inside Afghanistan, Britain and America are well aware that their time there is coming to an end. In the decade that has passed since Nato’s storm-troopers crash-landed into the country, the entire imperialist system has slipped further into economic crisis. And as the crisis deepens, more pressing objectives are taking attention away from the losing battle of Afghanistan, with US imperialism in particular shifting its gaze towards the Pacific and China.

Moreover, these objective economic factors (driven by the intrinsic contradictions inherent in the system of monopoly capitalism) are compounded by a heroic guerrilla resistance movement inside occupied Afghanistan, where people have refused to put down the gun and submit to Nato’s colonial agenda.

In tandem with these events, US imperialism has failed to keep hold of the influence it once held in many quarters, notably Pakistan. It has lost not just the support of a large section of Pakistan’s bourgeoisie, but has also, through its thoroughly criminal and fascistic military methods, raised the ire of millions of ordinary Pakistanis and drawn thousands of them into armed conflict on the side of the Afghan resistance.

Looking for a back door

Well aware that a back-door exit from Afghanistan through Pakistan is now off the cards, frantic attempts are being made to conclude deals with Afghanistan’s other neighbours.

The Washington Post reported a visit by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta to Kyrgyzstan where attempts are also being made to conclude a deal that will secure imperialism’s presence there beyond 2014:

US Secretary Leon Panetta met with Kyrgyzstan’s leaders to stress that America needs the continued use of the US air base there beyond the end of its contract in 2014, largely as a transit centre to bring troops home from Afghanistan.

A senior US official traveling with Panetta to Kyrgyzstan said the US believes there may be some ‘wiggle room’ for additional negotiations for a longer-term contract.

The official said the defence chief on Tuesday will underscore the importance of the transit centre for both countries, for regional security as well as the possible transition to a lucrative commercial hub in the future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

On Tuesday evening, Panetta met with Taalaybek Omuraliev, Kyrgyzstan’s defence minister, and Busurmankul Tabaldiev, the secretary of the defence council. During the early part of the meeting, Tabaldiev, a civilian, told Panetta that while Kyrgyzstan ‘has shown readiness’ to support the US and transit centre after 2014, he said that after 2014 ‘there should be no military mission’. ‘He said the airport was a civilian, commercial enterprise. His comments echo those of the new president.’ ...

The base has been the subject of much contentious dispute between the two countries. But in 2009 the US was able to reach an agreement with the Kyrgyz government for use of the base in return for $60m a year.” [1]

However, so far, the new government of President Atambaev remains adamant that the US military must quit the Manas air base in 2014.

In tandem with the desperate haggling of US imperialism, our own ruling class is also scrambling for the emergency exit. Mass murderer, war criminal and ‘keen gardener’ David Cameron is reportedly desperate to make deals with Kazakhstan. The Daily Mail wrote:

Because of the problems posed by exiting Afghanistan via an increasingly hostile Pakistan and then shipping the equipment home, a major British diplomatic effort is being directed at securing approval from six or seven ex-Soviet states, including Kazakhstan, to transport the convoys across their soil ...

The diplomatic offensive saw Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last month travelling to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – an even more tyrannical central Asian state that Britain needs to win agreement from to bring its equipment back from Afghanistan over its territory.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey has been deployed to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on a similar mission.

Sources say that while progress has been made to securing an overland route, all the necessary deals are not yet in place.” [2]

Whilst Philip Hammond reportedly managed to secure a deal with the Kazakh government to aid the transportation of 11,000 containers and 3,000 armoured vehicles out of Afghanistan, it may be slightly optimistic to imagine that imperialist troops can hang on until 2014 if the recent intensification of resistance continues.

Massacre on 11 March

Already, 2012 has witnessed one calamity after another for occupation forces in Afghanistan.

A wave of violence broke out after it emerged that copies of the Koran had been burned by American forces, and closely following this was the 6 March bomb that killed six British soldiers. More bombs injured US soldiers the following day, and this incident is now being touted as the cause of Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’s allegedly ‘single-handed’ murder of 16 Afghan civilians, which cannot but galvanise the resistance forces in their war against imperialist occupation.

According to the Australian of 21 March, “Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on US forces in the same area a few days earlier.

In accounts to the Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that US troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either 7 or 8 March, and told them they would pay a price for the attack.

The lawyer for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused in the 11 March killings of the 16 civilians, has said that his client was upset because a buddy had lost a leg in an explosion on 9 March ...

Sgt Bales, 38, is suspected of leaving a US base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, entering homes and gunning down nine children, four men and three women before dawn on 11 March in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai. Mokhoyan is about 500 metres east of the base.

The shootings have further strained ties between the US government and President Hamid Karzai who has accused the US military of not cooperating with a delegation he appointed to investigate the killings.

Mr Karzai’s investigative team is not convinced that one soldier could have single-handedly left his base, walked to the two villages, and carried out the killings and set fire to some of the victims’ bodies. The US military has said that even though its investigation is continuing, everything currently points to one shooter.

The fact that US stooge, professional gangster, gun-runner, drug-trafficker and ‘President’ Karzai feels compelled to speak out against what was clearly an orchestrated, planned and vengeful war crime committed with the full knowledge and approval of the US military machine speaks volumes. A more blatant and disgraceful act is hard to imagine. Indeed, nightmares can conjure up nothing in visions of horror as compared to the horrific atrocities of imperialism.

British state moves to silence dissent

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the only ones to be outraged by the despicable, cowardly and shameful behaviour of imperialist troops. Here at home there is a growing understanding amongst fair-minded individuals that the British state is guilty of war crimes, and that the media and politicians are full of gross hypocrisy with regard to British forces’ conduct in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

Many who are waking up to these outrages have no political or philosophical framework with which to understand the deeper involvement of the state and capitalism in the behaviour of those who carry out imperialism’s dirty work. One such individual is Azhar Ahmed, who quite commendably felt offended by the partiality of the coverage given to the deaths of six British soldiers who died in a roadside bombing, especially when considered in the wider context of the war. He wrote on Facebook:

People gassin about the deaths of soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmful [harmless – Ed] familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! Gotta problem go cry at your soldiers grave & wish him hell because thats where he is going..

Whilst Mr Ahmed may fail to understand the wider context, or indeed the negative attention his comments are bound to attract (as a young male of Asian background), he has merely identified the hypocrisy that angers any sane and rational individual exposed to the 24/7 drip-feed of lies which passes for journalism and reportage on mainstream television. In a world where such crimes as the ethnic cleansing of the black Libyans of Tawergha can be brushed aside, a person would have to be an inveterate colonialist or Trotskyite of the worst and most British variety not to speak out.

In an act that is clearly designed to criminalise opposition to the ruling class’s war in Afghanistan, a charge was brought against Mr Ahmed by Yorkshire police for a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’. Although subsequently dropped (whilst substituting a relatively new ‘offence’, ie, sending a message that is “grossly offensive” contrary to the Communications Act 2003), these latest actions of the state security forces are a serious threat to what remains of any semblance of free speech in Britain.

It is quite certain that it is only that which “grossly offends” the bourgeoisie that is criminalised, not the grossly offensive anti-immigrant, anti-working class, and/or anti-communist propaganda and other lies which are the daily fare dished out by the bourgeois media!







NOTES

1. ‘Panetta seeks to shore up support in Kyrgyzstan for use of base critical to Afghan withdrawal’, 13 March 2012

2. ‘Cameron "forced to visit" Kazakh dictator over UK weapons trains route in exchange for exit from Afghanistan’ by Will Stewart and Glen Owen, 11 March 2012



Campaign priority: Defend Azhar Ahmed
Communists and the struggle against imperialism
Afghanistan: wheels coming off Nato's war machine
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