Displaying items by tag: Afghan war

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Published in Past Events
Wednesday, 09 December 2020 09:50

Afghan peace now a waiting game

The Inter-Afghan Negotiations (IAN) that started last September between the Taliban and the Afghan government turns out to be a protracted waiting game.

The talks began due to great urgency and expectations of the Afghan people, who are eager to see the end of some four decade-long of devastating war with great hopes that the IAN will bring peace.

The Taliban had a two-point agenda: American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces to leave Afghanistan, and implementation of syariah in the self-proclaimed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani asserts bringing peace to the war-torn country, but that he is the country's elected leader until his term ends in 2024. The Jamiyat Party of Afghanistan suggests that a transitional government takes over to facilitate peace.

Ghani's continuity almost certainly depends on the continued stay of American troops, currently at 5,000 (reduced from 100,000 deployed under the Obama administration), which is enough to deter a Taliban offensive.

Being under United States occupation, the realities are such that no significant decision is made in Kabul without American approval. The Afghan army is currently on the American payroll amounting to over US$5 billion per year, a sum that Kabul cannot pay from its own meagre budget.

The Doha talks have hitherto made no progress simply because all sides were awaiting the US presidential election results.

President Donald Trump has declared that the US troops will leave Afghanistan in near terms without specifying a date, but March has been mentioned as the target date. Now that he has lost the election, the waiting continues until the new president takes office. The Taliban are also waiting for renewed American assurance on the February 2020 agreement they signed with the Trump administration.

The Taliban have refused to sign a ceasefire agreement to pave the way for a peace pact, and have chosen the path of violence.

They have stepped up guerilla attacks against Afghan forces and caused heavy civilian casualties.

Prior to the February agreement, Taliban attacks on Afghan forces also invoked a US military response, which kept the violence within limits, but casualty rates had also become heavier since then. For over two months, the Doha talks between 21-member negotiating teams on each side were engaged in trivialities: What expressions they should be using at the talks and what should or should not be placed on the agenda.

The Taliban want their movement to be referred to as a legitimate jihad, and they refuse to refer to the Afghan government as an Islamic republic until Kabul accedes to their demand.

To call the Taliban's bloody raids on Afghan security forces a jihad would be suicidal for Kabul and generally unacceptable.

Yet the Taliban do have grassroots support, which may however be dwindling due to their belated killing sprees that have become particularly brutal under Mullah Hibatullah's leadership.

The Trump administration has not taken a clear stance on these raids although the US envoy for peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, had said that this degree of violence from the Taliban was not acceptable.

Protracted waiting with no clear end in sight may also raise a more sinister question: Do they (Taliban and the Afghan government) want peace?

If the US does not want peace, which is the understanding most Afghans seem to have, then those who are attached to them may also share the same attitude.

Moreover, the Taliban militarism and its suspected al-Qaeda links suggest that they most likely aim for a military takeover of Kabul and peace is not likely to deliver that prize.

The Kabul government has also missed opportunities for peace in recent months and a continuation of status quo is an option as it would likely prolong the American military presence.

Ghani's internal bickering with Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah has also led to indecision. Rumour has it that Dr Abdullah prioritises peace, whereas Ghani wants peace on his own terms.

The latter is also less than happy with the way the Taliban became the first party to sign an agreement with the Americans.

The Doha talks have yet to enter its proper agenda. It is uncertain but likely that the Taliban will take issue with the current constitution of Afghanistan with reference particularly to equality clauses for women and implementation of syariah. They also suggest that an ulama council be formed to take charge of implementing syariah.

Such demands will be met with resistance as prominent women leaders and civil society are critical of the Taliban's view on women. So, protracted negotiations are likely to continue, and may be more of the same with the waiting game. What remains to be said is that they all owe it to their conscience, country and people to drop petty delaying tactics and work sincerely for a peaceful Afghanistan.

Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 09 December 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/647956/afghan-peace-now-waiting-game

Wednesday, 22 August 2018 15:53

Afghanistan: The war that shames America

Seventeen bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers US$4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation's legitimate government. Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War. Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated. The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul. It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gun ships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault. Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away. Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins. It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed "the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned".

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb Taliban into submission have clearly failed. US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties. Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air. Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan.

That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power. Taliban rules the night.

Taliban are not and never were "terrorists" as Washington's war propaganda falsely claimed. I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists.

When Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels. Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin.

US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by Taliban. This is another big lie. The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs. The army and secret police get a big cut. How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia?

The US has inadvertently become one of the world's leading drug dealers. This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War. But just one. Watching the world's greatest power bomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can't afford sandals, is a huge dishonour for Americans.

Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj. The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan. One hears talk of minerals, women's rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense. A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup. They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims.

Interestingly, the so-called "terrorist training camps" supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue. The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan. I'm not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.

My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence.

President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.

Eric S. Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia. Comments: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in: The Sun Daily, Wednesday 22 August 2018

Source: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/08/22/afghanistan-war-shames-america

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Published in Media Articles