Malalai Joya: We need aid, not war machines

August 18, 2021
Malalai Joya

The situation in Afghanistan is extremely critical. The Taliban are advancing, for ordinary people and especially for women, this means even more suffering. Progressive people like me are more in danger than ever.

In recent years, I have survived four assassination attempts and have been banned from parliament for raising my voice against the fundamentalists and the warlords. For safety reasons, I still have to live in hiding or wear the burqa so that I am not recognized on the street.

Nevertheless, it is right that the Western troops are finally leaving our country — they should have done so much earlier. We cannot have a serious peace process as long as the Americans are in Afghanistan. We must build our country with our hands.

Was this 20-year mission in vain? For me, yes, the American and Western troops have failed. They have come from their own geopolitical interests, from their own domestic interests they are now leaving.

The Americans replaced the barbaric regime of the Taliban with brutal warlords, and then began to negotiate with the Taliban, even though the nature of the Taliban has never changed. The Americans have thrown bombs, polluted the environment, made the system even more corrupt. They have never been interested in the Afghan people.

In some major cities, such as Kabul or Herat, the Americans have implemented infrastructures or financed aid projects, but all this served to justify the operation. Often, the money that was intended for schools, for example, went directly into the pockets of corrupt people. And in the rural regions, nothing has been done at all.

What will happen after the withdrawal of troops? Everyone fears for their own future. In the short term, the situation will not improve, that is clear. In the long term, however, it is in the interest of the Afghans that the Western troops leave. No democracy arises from a militay occupation.

The Afghan people should now stay together and fight against the terrorists and the warlords: what we need from abroad is not war machines, but humanitarian aid, especially for educational projects.

[This piece originally appeared in the German Daily Newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. Translated by Sarah Hamidi. Reposted from Malalai Joya/Facebook.]

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