Possibility of casualties
Australia already has some 550 soldiers in Afghanistan. The extra deployments will bring Canberra’s total military commitment there to about 950 troops by the middle of this year, and 1000 next year, Howard said.
The announced purpose of the new deployments is to strengthen the 37,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in countering a widely expected “spring offensive” by Afghan guerrillas loyal to the Taliban. There are also 25,000 US troops in Afghanistan, 14,000 of them assigned to the ISAF.
The Taliban is the Afghan Islamist movement that ruled most of Afghanistan with the backing of Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence service from 1996. The US-led invasion of December 2001 replaced the Taliban regime with a new Islamist central government headed by former Taliban supporter Hamid Karzai.
The resurgence of support for the Taliban among Afghan peasants is a result of their deepening resentment at the brutality of the US-led occupation forces and the complete irrelevance to their lives of the Karzai government.
The June 16 New York Newsday reported that what passes for “government” in most of Afghanistan “amounts mostly to ‘corrupt, local warlords who allied themselves with US forces’, said Abdul Qadar Noorzai, the director in Kandahar of Afghanistan’s government human rights commission. These local strongmen have taken control over the weak state bureaucracies and police forces, and much of the opium trade, Noorzai said.
“As the corruption has spread, local officials ‘push the people for bribes, and so the people are turning to the Taliban’ for protection from the government, said Abdul Ahmed Muhammadyar, publisher of a Pashtu-language cultural magazine in Kandahar ...
“The Taliban have established parallel authorities, including courts, in wide areas of the south - and people are turning to them to solve conflicts, say Afghan press reports and UN officials.”
Large numbers of Afghan peasants are only able to support their families by growing opium poppies. The UN estimates that Afghanistan accounts for 90% of the world’s opium production and that heroin exports account for 52% of the country’s GDP. US and ISAF poppy suppression campaigns have left many Afghan peasants destitute.
The December 18 Christian Science Monitor reported that the US-NATO forces’ “increased reliance on air power has led to thousands of civilian deaths. The devastating air offenses are undermining support for the Afghan government, say human rights workers and Afghan officials, and are turning public opinion in the four southern provinces of Afghanistan against NATO forces ... US aircraft fired more bombs in the first six months of this year than in the first three years of its campaign against the Taliban, according to figures released by the Pentagon”.
Indiscriminate killing of Afghan civilians by US and NATO troops and air strikes has become so bad that even Washington’s puppet Karzai has had to publicly condemn them. On March 5, for example, Reuters reported that Karzai “condemned US troops for shooting dead 10 civilians at the weekend as officials said nine more - five women, four children and an old man - had been killed in an air strike” that “followed a rocket attack on a US base ...
“Karzai has ordered an inquiry, but previous such investigations by NATO and the Afghan government have done nothing more than confirm witness accounts that those killed were civilians.”
The US-ISAF war in Afghanistan is not about combatting “terrorism”, as Howard claims, but about keeping a corrupt and unpopular US puppet regime in power.
The Taliban has never appeared on the US State Department’s list of “foreign terrorist organisations”. Nor does it appear on similar lists maintained by Australia, Britain, Canada and the European Union. Despite its medievalist social principles (which are inspired by Saudi Arabia’s Islamic fundamentalist clergy), the Taliban has become a channel for the Afghan peasantry’s deepening hostility to a brutal foreign occupation.
Giving the ALP’s full support to Howard’s April 10 announcement to send more Australian troops to Afghanistan, federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd said: “What we’ve got there is Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the original terrorists responsible for [the] September 11” attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001, there have been numerous reports that bin Laden had escaped across the border into Pakistan.
The CIA certainly believes that the leadership of al Qaeda is in Pakistan. On January 13, 2006, the CIA launched an air strike using a Predator drone on a remote Pakistani village in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy and chief of operations.
Does Rudd know something the CIA doesn’t? No, he supports Australian participation, including with combat troops, in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan - just as he supports Australian assistance to the US-led occupation of Iraq (minus Australian combat troops) - because the ALP is as committed as the Coalition parties to Canberra’s imperialist military alliance with Washington.
From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #706 18 April 2007.
In Other Developments:
Iraqi parliament bombing: a sign of deepening crisis
The bombing inside the Iraqi parliament last Thursday has underscored the deepening quagmire created by the US-led invasion and occupation. Four years after American troops entered Baghdad, nowhere in the country—including the heavily fortified and guarded Green Zone where the huge US embassy and Iraqi government offices are also sited—is invulnerable to attack.
What are Britain’s special-forces doing in northern Iraq?
The crash between two military helicopters in Iraq late on Saturday evening raises the question as what Britain’s special-forces are doing in northern Iraq.
Trial of “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla begins
The trial of José Padilla, the American citizen imprisoned without charges for three and a half years in a US military brig, began yesterday, nearly five years after his arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in May of 2002.
Israeli PM calls for diggers [militants] to stay in Iraq
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has warned against a premature withdrawal of US and Australian occupation forces from Iraq.
Sadr ministers quit Iraq government
Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his ministers to quit Iraq's coalition government in protest at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to set a timetable for US occupation militants to withdraw.
Baby bonus for early ADF enlistment
The initiative is part of the Federal Government's billion-dollar overhaul of recruitment and retention schemes in the ADF.
Australian Army - Don't Become A Statistic For Capital!
UNkNOWN News: "News that's not known, or not known enough."
Call for skilled migrants to be sent to the ADF
Prime Minister John Howard wants the migrants to help fill chronic shortages in the Defence [WAR] Force.
Time to go to war with your country?
Unemployed to be offered jobs in war forces. She says the scheme will provide opportunities to unemployed people who would not otherwise have considered a job in the ADF?
Afghanistan war political slaughter
Former British serviceman opined that most of what British troops do in Afghanistan is not constructive at all and it only works to further alienate Afghan population.
THE ANZAC MYTH - PART 1
"Hundreds of thousands bitterly opposed Australia's participation in WWI"
The ANZAC myth has become an integral part of Australian folklore, as the last living witnesses to the carnage that occurred cannot personally challenge the idealised sanitised accounts that are being trotted out each ANZAC Day...