Afghanistan: an unjust war unravels — time for troops to leave

November 11, 2009

On November 2, Hamid Karzai began another term as president of Western-occupied Afghanistan after being officially declared the winner in an election so blatantly fraudulent that his main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, refused to take part in it any longer.

The planned presidential run-off was due to be held only because of pressure on Karzai and the occupation forces after revelations of massive fraud in the August 20 first round "won" by the incumbent.

A joint statement on November 3 by US President Barack Obama and senior European Union politicians said: "We welcome the conclusion of the electoral process and we congratulate President Hamid Karzai on his reelection.

"We look forward to the formation of a new government, representing the will of the Afghan people."

The same day, British occupation forces suffered their worst casualties in a single incident since the 2001 invasion. Five soldiers were killed and six wounded in a machine gun attack in Shin Kalay village, Helmand province.

The attack was not carried out by Taliban insurgents, but an officer in the Afghan National Police being trained by British soldiers.

Understandably, the US is having increasing trouble selling the war to its own population and those of its military partners.

The graphic displays of Karzai's contempt for democracy and the Afghan armed forces' contempt for their Western mentors has made Obama's claims of a "nation-building exit strategy" to allow foreign troops to leave appear ridiculous.

The presidential election and run-off were always intended for foreign audiences. The Afghan people know Karzai is a corrupt puppet of the occupiers with ties to warlords and gangsters.

His main opponent, Abdullah, is a minor pro-occupation warlord. The main difference between the two candidates is ethnicity (Karzai is Pushtun and Abdullah is Tajik).

The electoral process was aimed at presenting a picture of progress towards democracy and stability among the increasingly weary populations of countries whose soldiers occupy Afghanistan.

This has backfired badly due the brazenness of Karzai's vote-rigging and the vacillations of the Western response.

Like Ahmedinejad in Iran, Karzai would have probably won the most votes without fraud, but resorted to vote-rigging to gain the more than 50% needed to avoid a run-off poll.

Under pressure, the electoral commission ruled a third of Karzai's votes fraudulent. Karzai eventually agreed to a run-off against Abdullah.

However, Abdullah pulled out on November 1 on the grounds that a repeat of the vote-rigging appeared certain.

Karzai insisted the second round vote go ahead — with himself the only candidate.

However, because Taliban insurgents where threatening violent attacks on election day, the occupying forces decided it was not worth sacrificing their soldiers to protect such a farce.

On November 2, Karzai was simply declared the winner by the ironically named Independent Electoral Commission.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown immediately called Karzai to congratulate him.

The November 2 Times Online quoted "a Downing Street spokesman" who said: "Mr Karzai's inauguration would bring forward plans to increase the number of British troops in Afghanistan by 500 to 9500."

Brown told parliament: "President Karzai agreed with me that Afghanistan now also needs to strengthen its army and police numbers, so that over time we can reduce the number of British troops."

The following day, in Shin Kalay, the number of British troops was reduced by 11 due to the machine gun attack by an Afghan police officer.

Brown claimed that attacker (who escaped) was a Taliban infiltrator. In fact, he had been in the puppet Afghan National Police for three years.

Pro-occupation propaganda notwithstanding, the conflict is not a war between the Afghan government (backed by the Western troops) and religious fundamentalist insurgents.

The Karzai government is itself dominated by fundamentalist warlords and its authority has never extended much beyond Kabul. The country is divided between warlords, tribal militias, drug lords, bandits and religious fundamentalists with shifting alliances, and conflicts between each other and with the occupiers.

The tenuous loyalty of the puppets in government and Afghan armed forces to their masters has been further strained by the occupiers' indiscriminate violence toward Afghan civilians.

On November 4, the US Socialist Worker said: "David Kilcullen, a former Australian army officer and now a consultant to the US and other NATO countries on counter-insurgency tactics, pointed out that in recent air attacks, the US has killed 98 civilians for every two 'insurgents' killed."

Based on this ratio, if US claims to have killed 25,000 insurgents are true, then 1.25 million Afghan civilians have been directly killed by US airstrikes.

The exact number of Afghan civilians killed by the occupation forces is unknown, but it numbers in the many thousands — making a mockery of claims the occupation is fighting for Afghan "liberation".

Women and children are disproportionately represented among the casualties. New misogynist laws have been passed by the Karzai government, undermining claims the occupation is fighting anti-women fundamentalism.

An October 5 United Nations Human Development Report ranks Afghanistan 181st out of 182 countries in the Human Development Index, giving the lie to Western propaganda that portrays the occupiers as promoting development and giving aid.

Since the invasion, opium production has risen by 4500%. Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is a well-known figure in the drug mafia.

The October 28 New York Times revealed Ahmed Wali Karzai was also on the CIA payroll, providing services for the US that included acting as a contact for secret negotiations with the Taliban — the very forces the occupation is supposed to be fighting.

On October 23, Afghan feminist Malalai Joya told an International Socialist Organization conference = in New York City: "The withdrawal of one enemy — these US occupation forces — will make it much easier to fight the enemies that are left."

The electoral farce has strengthened opposition to the war in the US, Britain and other Western countries. The anti-war movement needs to mobilise growing opposition to force a withdrawal of all occupying troops.

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