Sunday, December 19: Global Day of Listening to Afghans

http://www.thepeoplesjourney.org/

Inspired by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Afghans For Peace, this GLOBAL DAY of LISTENING will allow everyone to listen to the stories told by the Afghan People of what it is like to live now in Afghanistan.

Anyone interested in talking with those gathered in Kabul and Bamiyan may now request a time to speak during this Day of Listening.  You may listen at any time via conference call-in or Skype (see details below).

The Purpose of the day-long teleconference is for LISTENING:

1. To the PEOPLE : to ordinary Afghans, to ordinary internationals, including others from war-torn countries, and to world public opinion.

2. To the PAIN (anger, grief, disappointment) of the people :

– the world’s public whose opinion is swinging against the Afghan War

– the pro-war people who have their concerns, with the understanding that most Afghans are now anti-war.

3. To the People’s Afghanistan December Review

–The Afghan people know the expected military outcome of the Obama administration’s Afghanistan December Review.

–Afghans want those willing to LISTEN to hear the Afghan People’s Review. Continue reading

Afghanistan: Measuring what the US/NATO occupation and Karzai regime have done to women

This young woman was violently attacked for appearing in public without a male--a violation of the strict Sharia law enforced by the US-supported Karzai regime.

29 November 2010, A World to Win News Service

Recent  reports by both human rights groups and Afghan officials indicate that violence against women in Afghanistan is on the rise and that this has been the trend since the beginning of the occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S. and other Nato countries.

A report published in April 2009 by the women’s rights organisation Womankind said that 80 percent of Afghan women suffer from domestic violence. Other reports put this figure as high as 87 percent. Afghan minister of women’s affairs Hassan-Banu Ghazanfar recently said that it effects 90 percent.

November 25 marked the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. This violence is global and not particular to Afghan women. In the world as a whole the vast majority of women face violence in one or another serious form during their their lifetime. The facts about violence against women even in the most developed countries are shocking. Rape, physical and sexual abuse by the husband or boyfriend, harassment and worse at work places, the trade in women and sex slavery are only some of forms of anti-woman violence. These facts suggest that this is not just a remnant of the past but that world capitalism even in its most developed stage is a source of oppression, discrimination and violence against women.

So there is not single country in the imperialist-dominated  world where women have escaped from oppression and violence. This article focuses on Afghanistan not only because these women have suffered severe oppression by the various fundamentalist rulers over the last three decades, and not only because the level of violence and other sorts of oppression is so extreme, but also because the imperialist powers have occupied the country under the pretext of liberating Afghan women. Continue reading

America’s Failed War of Attrition in Afghanistan

House destroyed by US air strike

The Nation, November 22, 2010

by Jeremy Scahill

At the end of the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal this weekend, the leadership of the Afghan Taliban issued a statement characterizing the alliance’s adoption of a loose timeline for a 2014 end to combat operations as “good news” for Afghans and “a sign of failure for the American government.”

At the summit, President Barack Obama said that 2011 will begin “a transition to full Afghan lead” in security operations, while the Taliban declared: “In the past nine years, the invaders could not establish any system of governance in Kabul and they will never be able to do so in future.”

While Obama claimed that the US and its allies are “breaking the Taliban’s momentum,” the reality on the ground tells a different story. Despite increased Special Operations Forces raids and, under Gen. David Petraeus, a return to regular US-led airstrikes, the insurgency in Afghanistan is spreading and growing stronger. “By killing Taliban leaders the war will not come to an end,” said the Taliban’s former foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, in an interview at his home in Kabul. “On the contrary, things get worse which will give birth to more leaders.”

Former and current Taliban leaders say that they have seen a swelling in the Taliban ranks since 9-11. In part, they say, this can be attributed to a widely held perception that the Karzai government is corrupt and illegitimate and that Afghans–primarily ethnic Pashtuns–want foreign occupation forces out. “We are only fighting to make foreigners leave Afghanistan,” a new Taliban commander in Kunduz told me during my recent trip to the country. “We don’t want to fight after the withdrawal of foreigners, but as long as there are foreigners, we won’t talk to Karzai.” Continue reading

Amidst global crisis, the NATO summit in Lisbon: EU and US make a deal for missile shield aimed at Iran

Frontlines Editorial

Recent imperialist meetings have seen many new developments.  The G20 meetings in Seoul, Korea brought limited success to the US’ plans for the world economy. Public disagreements broke out among the imperialist countries over issues of trade, monetary policy and government deficit spending.

The recently concluded NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal  took place in the shadow of the deepening imperialist economic crisis in the US and the European Union. The same week as the summit, the EU and International Monetary Fund had to give Ireland hundreds of billions of dollars to save its failing banks, and Portugal may be next.  Even while the economic ties among the US and EU imperialists are growing increasingly strained, the US and its European allies in NATO were able to agree on a common political and military strategy for defending and expanding their imperialist interests in the Middle  East and Central Asia.

The articles from The Guardian and Al-Jazeera that are posted below only describe what was decided at the NATO summit. Here is Frontlines’ analysis of the summit’s most important decisions. Our comments are more extensive than usual due to the importance of this subject.

Missile Shield

The NATO leaders announced a missile shield that will be deployed in stages beginning in 2011. This is the result of an intense US campaign to focus imperialist military coordination on isolating the Islamic Republic of Iran and forcing it to give up its nuclear program.. Throughout the upcoming decade of construction of a complex multi-billion dollar system against a handful of Iranian missiles, there  will be an ever-present  and hysterical media campaign claiming that the Islamic Republic is run by “unstable fanatics” who are a military threat to Europe and to Israel.  Building the shield against the alleged “threat” from Iran aims to justify tighter US/EU sanctions, and  to prepare political support for military action against Iran.

Afghanistan

The summit also agreed on a timetable for “withdrawal” of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014. This is aimed at defusing growing opposition to the war (eg. the growing number of body bags of US and NATO troops). The 2014 withdrawal date is an attempt to buy time to prevent a total Taliban victory.  The war plans of the US and NATO commanders– launching bigger offensives to clear Taliban forces out of southwest Afghanistan, and  making new attempts  to split the Taliban—are not new and have not prevented the Taliban from growing and spreading throughout the country.  Still, the US and NATO countries have no choice but to continue the war.  All of them see the victory of an anti-Western fundamentalist force like the Taliban as a threat to their imperialist interests in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Russia joins the summit

The most significant development of the summit was the agreement of Russia’s President Medvedev to cooperate with the US and NATO in several areas. Medvedev offered to provide increased military assistance to the Karzai government. The Russian government also wants to see the Taliban defeated in order to cut off a source of support for separatist Islamist forces in Chechnya and the former Soviet Central Asian republics.  Most importantly, Medvedev agreed to work with the US and NATO on the missile shield.  In the months before the summit, President Obama withdrew Bush’s plan to base missile interceptors in Poland, which were aimed at Russia.  Based on the US’ assurance that the new missile system would be directed solely at Iran, the Russian imperialists decided that it was in their interests to cooperate in the development of the shield.  Russia also agreed to support tighter sanctions against Iran, and withdrew from several of its previous agreements with Iran. Continue reading

Afghan women demand liberation, reject being used as pretext for war

[This article describes the oppressive conditions faced by Afghan women under the Karzai regime, whose main source of support is fundamentalist warlords who are just as reactionary and anti-woman as the Taliban. This article expresses the common view that Afghan women have made significant strides forward since the US invasion in 1991 in the areas of education, health care and political life. In reality, these advances have been concentrated among more privileged sections of women, and they do not extend beyond Kabul’s city limits. The article also raises the question of what kind of political arrangement could replace US-backed politicians like Karzai and exclude the Taliban after the US/NATO occupation forces withdraw.—Frontlines ed]

Kabul--Afghan women demand the government take action against the murderers of five women.

Afghan Women Demand Liberation, Not Lip Service

 

By Kanya D’Almeida

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – Afghanistan will not know peace until women are equal participants in negotiations, stresses a report released  by the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“We don’t want the world to see us as victims,” said Afifa Azim, general director of the Afghan Women’s Network, which is working in collaboration with the Kroc Institute. “Afghani women must be at the table if the peace process is to move forward. No women, no peace.”

Co-authored by David Cortright and Sarah Persinger, the report entitled “Afghan Women Speak: Enhancing Security and Human Rights in Afghanistan” was presented as part of the week-long Peace Conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The report includes some 50 interviews with women leaders, parliamentarians, activists, school principals, NGO and health workers, army officials and police officers in the field in Kabul, Afghanistan, from April to May of 2010.

Since United States-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, critics say Washington has dangled the question of women’s emancipation over the head of the international community, using it to justify prolonged military occupation. Pundits and policy-makers in the West have largely swallowed this argument, taking up the fight for Afghan women with great gusto while continuing to support U.S. and NATO troops in the Middle East. Continue reading

Report from Afghanistan: Behind Enemy Lines

The Independent (UK), November 14, 2010

The prospect of a negotiated peace is dismissed almost outright. . . . “There are no al-Qa’ida fighters in Afghanistan any more.”

James Fergusson

The sound of a propeller engine is audible the moment my fixer and I climb out of the car, causing us new arrivals from Kabul to glance sharply upwards. I have never heard a military drone in action before, and it is entirely invisible in the cold night sky, yet there is no doubt what it is. My first visit to the Taliban since 2007 has only just begun and I am already regretting it. What if the drone is the Hellfire-missile-carrying kind?

Three years ago, the Taliban’s control over this district, Chak, and the 112,000 Pashtun farmers who live here, was restricted to the hours of darkness although the local commander, Abdullah, vowed to me that he would soon be in full control. As I am quickly to discover, this was no idle boast. In Chak, the Karzai government has in effect given up and handed over to the Taliban. Abdullah, still in charge, even collects taxes. His men issue receipts using stolen government stationery that is headed “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”; with commendable parsimony they simply cross out the word “Republic” and insert “Emirate”, the emir in question being the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

The most astonishing thing about this rebel district and for Nato leaders meeting in Lisbon this week, a deeply troubling one is that Chak is not in war-torn Helmand or Kandahar but in Wardak province, a scant 40 miles south-west of Kabul. Nato commanders have repeatedly claimed that the Taliban are on the back foot following this year’s US troop surge. Mid-level insurgency commanders, they say, have been removed from the battlefield in “industrial” quantities since the 2010 campaign began.

And yet Abdullah, operating within Katyusha rocket range of the capital and with a $500,000 bounty on his head has managed to evade coalition forces for almost four years. If Chak is in any way typical of developments in other rural districts and Afghanistan has hundreds of isolated valley communities just like this one then Nato’s military strategy could be in serious difficulty. Continue reading