US President Barack Obama announced on May 21 after the Chicago NATO leaders’ summit that the US, NATO and their allies had agreed to end their war of occupation in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
However, the announced “withdrawal” will leave US military bases in the country and some soldiers, including special forces, from the US and its allies to train, advise and assist the armies and militias of the occupiers’ Afghan puppets and warlords and carry out “targeted operations” against al-Qaeda.
The US intends to bolster its unstable puppet regime — a feuding coalition of gangsters, terrorists, corrupt politicians and tribal and ethnic militia commanders — through a peace agreement with the Taliban. However, this is far from a done deal.
The situation in Afghanistan is not fundamentally different from what it was when Obama ordered a surge in US soldier numbers at the start of his presidency.
The US started the war on false pretexts in 2001. It fought it using strategies based on fictitious scenarios — primarily that the US was helping an emerging democracy to defend itself from terrorist aggression.
Now the war is officially being ended with a fake withdrawal of the occupying forces.
The deaths of 3009 foreign soldiers — 1981 of them US — are real. The war’s horrific toll on Afghan civilians is real.
However, no accurate civilian body count has been kept. Some estimates are in the millions.
“We leave Chicago with a clear road map,” Obama told the news conference concluding the NATO summit. “This alliance is committed to bringing the war in Afghanistan to a responsible end.”
Before the summit he spoke of “a vision post-2014 in which we have ended our combat role, the Afghan war as we understand it is over”.
On May 1, Obama visited Afghanistan where he signed an agreement with puppet president Hamid Karzai that allowed for an ongoing presence of US-led forces until at least 2024. This agreement was endorsed by the NATO summit.
Associated Press said on May 1 that after the signing: “US officials are eying a residual force of perhaps 20,000, many in support roles for the Afghan armed forces, and some US special forces for counterterror missions.
“The size and scope of that US force — if one can be agreed upon on at all, given the public moods and political factors in both nations — will probably have to be worked out later in a separate agreement.”
Inter Press Service reported on May 2 that the agreement will “allow powerful US Special Operations Forces (SOF) to continue to carry out the unilateral night raids on private homes that are universally hated in the Pashtun zones of Afghanistan”.
The NATO summit’s official communique insisted that these residual forces “will not be a combat mission”.
Opposition to the war in the US, Canada and Europe has grown since the 2008 financial crisis and bailout of banks caused governments to introduce harsh austerity measures to curtail government spending.
Promoting the partial withdrawal in a May 22 CNN interview Karzai said: “We have finalised plans so 2014 will be a year in which the United States will not be spending as much money in Afghanistan as it is spending today.”
Newly elected French President Francois Hollande used a six-hour visit to Afghanistan to announce that all French troops in Afghanistan will withdraw by the end of 2012. This is a year earlier than previously planned. France has almost 3300 soldiers in Afghanistan and 82 French soldiers have been killed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament on May 23: “Britain has played a leading role in this alliance for reasons of our own national security. Three years ago some three quarters of the most serious terrorist plots against Britain had links to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’m now advised that figure has fallen to around a half.”
The threat of Afghan-based terrorism to the West was always exaggerated. Moreover, the May 22 Guardian quoted an unnamed “senior British official” as saying the terrorist threat from Afghanistan would remain.
The head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, told journalists after the Chicago summit: “There is no end to combat before the end of 2014. And in fact the Taliban will oppose the Afghan national security forces after 2014.”
The spin that the war has been successful in fighting terrorism lacks credibility, but the claim that the NATO-led force has been successful in democratic nation-building is even more outrageous.
On May 22, Pajhwok Afghan News reported that the shooting death of a 16-year-old in Bamyan province went unpunished because the perpetrator was a provincial council member whose brother was an MP.
On May 24, Pajhwok Afghan News reported on an 18-year-old in the northern province of Kunduz who was raped by local police and likewise denied justice.
Such reports are common in the Afghan media but reflect only a small part of the violence perpetrated by the militias and gangs that the occupation recognises as Afghan state forces.
A May 9 meeting of hundreds of residents of Dasht-i-Archi district, Kunduz province, led by tribal elders, discussed war-crimes committed by local NATO-armed private armies, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
The NATO forces continue to commit their own crimes. On May 1 Associated Press reported mass protests in Laghman province following the killing of two local young men by NATO troops conducting night raids.
On May 9, China Radio International reported 14 civilians killed, including children, by a NATO airstrike in Badghis province. On May 17, Khaama Press reported “at least five Afghan civilians were killed following [an] airstrike in [Kunar] province”.
As for the economic and social development that was promised to come with the occupation, the Irish Independent said Afghanistan had risen from being officially the worst to being the second worst country in which to be a mother, in Save the Children’s annual “State of the World's Mothers” ranking.
In Chicago, about 10,000 people protested outside the NATO summit demanding all troops be withdrawn immediately. The protest included dozens of US war veterans who threw back medals they had been awarded. As one did, he said: “I apologise to the Iraqi and Afghani people for destroying your countries.”
Read more articles by Tony Iltis.