NATO’s ‘withdraw’ from Afghanistan 10 years too late

The Stop the War Coalition Sydney released the statement below on May 24.

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The NATO announcement on May 21 that it will “withdraw” troops from Afghanistan in 2013 is an admission of defeat.

But there are no victors in this war. The country is no closer to peace and security today than when the Taliban were forced out in 2001.

Despite US President Barack Obama’s massive increase of US forces, there is no prospect of “winning”, as Colonel Daniel Davis reported to the US Congress.

Stop the War Coalition would welcome the end of the foreign occupation of Afghanistan — if it were actually true.

How real is this withdrawal when the US has committed military forces to remain until 2024, and intends to maintain its many huge military bases?

How else can we interpret PM Julia Gillard’s commitment to fund the corrupt Hamid Karzai government and its army $300 million over three years?

She has also committed to continue to fund the Australian Special Forces (SAS) military operations with the US forces. Their function has been, and remains, that of death squads supporting the same corrupt drug dealers and warlords who have dominated Afghanistan under Karzai.

Over the past five years, the Western occupiers have made many announcements that the “security” situation was improving and that NATO troops will be able to “hand back” the country to the Afghan national army. All these announcements have proved illusory.

Extraordinarily large funds have been provided as “aid” ($165-$250 million a year by 2015-16), yet the ordinary Afghans remain mired in poverty, with short life expectancy, low levels of literacy, horrific mortality among women in childbirth and violence against women unacceptably high and widespread.

Opium poppy is still the most lucrative crop with no alternative crops or livelihoods available to most poor farmers.

After 11 long and devastating years of war, NATO must get out now and allow the Afghans to determine their own future. They could hardly do worse than under NATO’s rule. A further 12 months or more of war and occupation will only further devastate the country and its people.

Australian troops must be withdrawn immediately and the military funding promised by the Gillard government must be allocated to grassroots Afghan-controlled health services, educational materials and teacher training. This could make some difference to the lives of ordinary Afghans.

Leaving the Australian Special Forces to carry out extra-judicial killings, as the Australian govenrment intends, continues the worst aspects of this foreign occupation.

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