Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/591/7667
Afghanistan: Withdraw foreign troops
- End the occupation - let the Afghan people decide their own future
- For a socialist world without war and terror
Saturday 24 October, Central London
Called by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and British Muslim Institute
The August presidential elections in Afghanistan will bring no relief to the Afghan people. A similar government to the previous one is the expected outcome, with even less room to make meagre concessions to ordinary people, as economic growth is falling and aid levels are likely to fall too.
Many polling stations - particularly in the Pashtun belt in the south - were virtually empty, as potential voters feared attacks from the Taliban. But even if the Taliban hadn't made threats, some commentators observed that there was no 'hunger' to vote; people felt that there was no point. Eight years of 'democracy' have brought no improvements in basic services and living standards for much of the population and there was little confidence that any of the main presidential candidates would change this.
"What foreign reporting of elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq miss out is the extent to which ordinary Afghans and Iraqis regard their governments as rackets run by political gangsters for their own ends", was the apt observation of Patrick Cockburn, writing in the Independent.
The corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai, who is now expected to have a second presidential term, has suited many of the rich warlords and ethnic leaders. But while they profit from drug trafficking, arms dealing and hiving off foreign aid, nearly 53% of the population is unemployed and poverty is endemic.
To ensure his re-election, Karzai courted a number of brutal northern warlords, including the notorious General Dostum who has a reputation for violence and human rights abuses. Even Richard Holbrooke, an envoy of the US regime that has been propping up Karzai's government, felt compelled to describe Dostum's return as "appalling".
As the new government will include leaders from different ethnic groups who have been given positions in return for delivering or fixing votes, the new regime will be as corrupt and potentially deadlocked as the previous one.
'Democracy' not working
As well as living under the rule of unscrupulous capitalist leaders, the Afghan workers and peasants have suffered many thousands of deaths and injuries at the hands of the intervening imperialist armies; over 100,000 foreign troops are in the country. The US and British governments that are in effect leading these forces are not intervening in the interests of the Afghan people, but in those of their own ruling classes that want to strenghen their influence in the region.
They cannot impose 'democracy' with missiles and tanks. The British army's Operation Panther's Claw in Helmand province was supposed to push back the Taliban to make it safe for people to vote in the election. But on election day the troops were mainly kept in their bases and fewer than 150 people were reported to have voted out of 48,000 in Nad-e-Ali, the area of the army's action. The turnout across Helmand was much lower than the national average which was estimated at around 40%.
206 British soldiers, 798 US soldiers, and 332 from 22 other countries have died in this war, yet the Taliban has recently made gains in all regions of the country and Al-Qa'ida remains active on the border with Pakistan.
Most workers internationally want the troops to be withdrawn, including in the US, where polls indicate that a majority of the population now opposes the war.
The Afghan workers and peasants urgently need the removal of the foreign armies. They need to build their own multi-ethnic defence organisations to guard against threats from the warlords' militias, and also go beyond that to democratically organise mass actions in their own interests.
Under capitalism, their future is one of extreme poverty and further wars. Socialist ideas are necessary in order for the next generation to have a completely different future, one in which the rich national resources of the country can be used for the benefit of all.
In The Socialist 26 August 2009:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaign news
Socialist Party workplace news
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis