The Ongoing Siege of Afghanistan

islamic-emirate-of-afghanistan-pic

22-08-2022: According to the Western corporate media, women in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) are today severely repressed. Supposedly, since the Taliban marched into Kabul on August 15, 2021, they have broken pledges to respect human rights and women’s rights. Almost all girls are denied access to secondary school, and women are barred from working in many jobs, and even travelling to their employment without a male relative accompanying them[1] – or so the story goes. Given that one of the main purveyors of this narrative is Human Rights Watch (HRW), working people can be excused for rolling their eyes. HRW was founded in 1978 by mainly US billionaires, to condemn “human rights violations” in the former Soviet Union. After the USSR collapsed in 1991, it became heavily financed by anti-socialist regime change magnate George Soros. Today, HRW is a US and allied billionaire funded propaganda front which justifies US and allied wars against their next target.[2] Despite the US “withdrawal” from Afghanistan in 2021, US imperialism has not finished with its nefarious geopolitical terror campaigns directed against the IEA and its neighbours.

US Empire concerned with “women’s rights” ?

Yet again, we are expected to believe that Western imperialism is serious about protecting women’s rights in Afghanistan – despite the US recently ending a 20-year war and occupation! The propaganda is so intense that even some edge “anti-war” outlets have simply repeated the manipulated talking points. The CounterCurrents website charges that at street checkpoints in Afghanistan today, morality police chastise women who are not covered in head-to-toe burqas.[3] Yet, they were quoting The New York Times. Such claims are – today – blatant falsehoods. While this may have been the position of the Taliban during their first period of rule from 1996-2001, it is certainly not the case two decades later. At the first press conference given by the Taliban after the IEA was effectively declared on August 15, 2021, spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid gave assurances that women can be educated all the way to University, without the need to wear a burqa. The only requirement is a hijab (hair covering), the same as Qatar or Iran. Mujahid also declared that a strong inclusive Islamic government will be formed – with “inclusive” meaning that women and Shi’ites will be participants.[4]

In other words, Taliban 2.0 will be a vastly different version from the original Taliban. After two decades of war, where they effectively fought the US to a standstill, today’s Taliban have realised that to be accepted by the “international community”, they will not be able to re-introduce positions such as the semi-exclusion of women from society. While the caveat is that “women’s rights will be guaranteed within the limits of Islamic law”, the Taliban now recognise that much needed trade and investment opportunities regionally and internationally will not be possible without the most objectionable anti-women practices of the old Taliban being dropped. And so they were. So why does the West continue its megaphone diplomacy today, shouting about the “rights of women” ? Welcome to the next phase of the siege of Afghanistan. The 2001-2021 war and occupation of Afghanistan was always about geopolitical manoeuvres against neighbouring Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia (via some ex-Soviet republics). Similarly, the post 2021 campaign against the IEA has similar sinister motives.

7 billion withheld from the IEA

While the craven Western media outlets cry foul over false “women’s rights” concerns, they are very quiet about the reasons for the economic hardship now being somehow dealt with in Afghanistan. This is because the main reason is that on the day the Taliban took Kabul, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order blocking IEA’s access to its own foreign reserves, worth 7 billion dollars. The Da Afghanistan Bank’s (DAB – Afghanistan’s Central Bank) foreign exchange assets held by the New York Federal Reserve Bank are blocked by the US Treasury in accordance with Biden’s August 15 2021 edict.[5] It gets more unjust. Half of this amount may be released by the US government pending civil litigation on behalf of the families of 9/11 (the suspicious collapse of the World Trade Center and other buildings in the US on September 11, 2001) victims. The suspect “official” version of 9/11 aside, blame for this event cannot be shifted to the Taliban, let alone the people of Afghanistan.

Needless to say, the well-being of women in Afghanistan, along with everyone else, would be much alleviated if this 7 billion was released. This is what 70 economists have now called for, in a letter to Biden and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Including eminent economists such as the Nobel-Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz and Andres Arauz, the former director of the central bank of Ecuador. The letter states that without access to its foreign reserves, the central bank of Afghanistan cannot carry out its normal and essential functions. Without a functioning central bank, the economy of Afghanistan has predictably collapsed, the letter adds.[6] The deliberate disabling of the Afghan economy only exposes what are arguably the real aims of the US ruling class and their allies.

While it is true that it was the Trump Administration that signed the Doha Agreement[7] with the Taliban on February 29, 2020 (which stipulated that US forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021), the Biden Administration orchestrated a contrived hasty withdrawal which created inexorable political conditions which build pressure for the US Empire to re-enter and re-occupy the geo-strategic country. Many scratch their heads at this – why would the US make a show of withdrawing, only to build conditions for them to go back in? Largely, it’s a question of the geopolitical interests of US and European imperialism vis-à-vis Eurasian integration headed by Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

US and EU (European Union) imperialism is well aware that it cannot provide the economic opportunities that the PRC can offer, nor the military security that Russia potentially offers. But it can sabotage such efforts, and cause chaos, through terror attacks alongside a political campaign against the “stone age” Taliban. US/EU imperialism can animate ISIS or ISIS-K[8] for horrific terror attacks for which they can offer semi-plausible deniability, while simultaneously invigorating Western liberals with plaintive cries for “justice” including affectatious demands to resettle refugees from Afghanistan.[9] With US, European and Australian troops occupying Afghanistan, the narrative of fighting for “democracy” can’t wash – for whatever the Taliban stood for, they were at least defending their land. With the US and allied troops now out (though not completely), the narrative can be flipped back to one where it is the “evil Taliban” supposedly oppressing Afghans, and it is once again imperialism (!!) to the rescue.

Collaborators

Western liberals, who know little shame, basically concede that they are demanding asylum for Afghan collaborators with US/EU/NATO/AUST imperialism. That is, those Afghans who worked directly with the occupation forces against the interests of other Afghans and Afghanistan itself. Understandably, these collaborators were targets of the Taliban in the immediate aftermath[10] of the US withdrawal, although the Taliban also eventually agreed to let them be, despite their treachery. Afghan interpreters, who worked for the US/NATO aligned military forces[11], certainly cannot claim that their assistance to these armies did not result in war crimes against Afghan civilians. The war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan were particularly unspeakable, including the execution of innocent farmers and their family members.[12] In fact, the Spanish government has recently admitted that it has evacuated 3900 Afghan military and civilian collaborators with EU and NATO forces, since August 2021.[13]  While there are certainly genuine refugees from Afghanistan who simply fled the fighting and the economic privation which occurred during the US/EU occupation, the demands for asylum for collaborators – without saying so openly – serves the aims of imperialist war, not peace.

How many Afghan collaborators were there, and continue to be now? It is not easy to say, but given the Afghan population of 40 million[14], and a 20-year occupation by wealthy imperialist powers, it is safe to say there would be thousands, perhaps tens of thousands or more. In every country in the world, whether or not there was or is a US military occupation, there are a network of collaborators for its Empire. This can range from interpreters to armed groups, to journalists, civil society employees and even whole political parties. In Zimbabwe, many were aware that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was a vessel funded by Western governments which served Western aims, under the guise of “democracy”, which contained the real possibility of a military invasion.[15] Some Zimbabweans warn against the parallels with Afghanistan today.

The Western media was aghast at the suppression of a “women’s rights” protest in Kabul on August 13. Yet photos from the action show only a crowd of about 40 women, complete with banners which looked anything but home-made, and with English translations attached.[16] Reportedly, some carried placards stating “August 15 is a black day” – referring to the beginning of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. A similar action was reported by HRW in Kabul in January, and this time some of the placards were entirely in English! No wonder that some jeered at them with cries of “puppets of the West!”.[17] It is plain to see that such actions are carried out by some Afghan women at the behest of their benefactors, for the benefit of odious Western geopolitical aims. Obviously, in a population of 40 million, 40 women waving placards in English is hardly representative of any section of the Afghan population. Without offering an iota of political backing for the Taliban, workers internationally must recognise that the suppression of such Western funded “activism” in Afghanistan is a necessity.

Eurasian integration

Washington is well aware that after its (partial) withdrawal, Afghanistan under Taliban 2.0 will be integrated into the growing Eurasian politico-economic-security bloc. On August 14, the Taliban’s acting Minister of Industry Noureddin Azizi confirmed that Afghanistan will import around one million barrels of Russian oil per day.[18] Trade with Russia had been virtually non-existent for the last two decades with the country under the occupation of the Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani puppet administrations. The Taliban also understands that economic reconstruction is not possible without major co-operation with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing. The Taliban visited Tianjin in July last year, where the PRC offered a quid-pro-quo: the PRC will recognise the Taliban’s role in rebuilding Afghanistan in return for its severing of any links with the US backed East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), responsible for a string of horrific terrorist attacks in the PRC’s neighbouring Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).[19]

The Taliban concurred, and recently the PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed that Beijing has offered to extend the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan via Pakistan occupied Kashmir.[20] This along with co-operation with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and entry into the Russian led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), combined with participation with the Iran-India-Russia led International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)[21] – makes for a potentially bright future for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Washington, needless to say, is not amused. Now, after the US state orchestrated a colour revolution to overthrow the popularly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan,[22] Pakistan is the only US ally in the region. Unfortunately, Washington has already utilised this regime change operation for iniquitous ends. The recent US claimed drone strike on Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri (despite many Afghans openly doubting whether it was Zawahiri at all[23]) was most likely launched from Pakistani soil, or at the very least directed with the use of Pakistani air space.[24]

On August 17, another terrorist bombing of a mosque in Kabul took place, taking the lives of 21 people, including a pro-Taliban cleric This came a week after the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing of another pro-Taliban cleric at his religious centre in Kabul.[25] It does not take too keen an insight to see what is happening. The Taliban and their supporters are being targeted with lethal consequences, by IS (whether in the form of ISIS, ISIS-K) and Al Qaeda operations. US troops in US uniforms obviously cannot carry out such attacks, and neither can they sabotage BRI or CPEC infrastructure building projects in Afghanistan. Thus, these wicked tasks are outsourced to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Yet the Taliban remains defiant. In late July, IEA Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani assured Indian media that Al Qaeda has no military presence inside Afghanistan, and that the IEA is bound by international commitments to fight ISIS.[26] No wonder the Pentagon is dismayed.

IEA reconstruction must proceed

As much as it may be inconceivable to liberals in the West, the Taliban has some basis of support within Afghanistan, and not without reason. The Economist is one of the Western elite’s media mouthpieces, yet even it felt bound to report that violence in Afghanistan has actually decreased[27] since the Taliban effectively declared the IEA on August 15, 2021. Given the decades long war and conflict imposed on them by the US state since the 1980s, this is no small feat. In fact, this achievement most likely has the support of most women in Afghanistan, placing the handfuls of female collaborators protesting with Western backing against the Taliban very much in the shade. Moreover, while there will be no LGBTIQA+ Pride marches in Afghanistan anytime soon, neither was there during the 20-year war and occupation by imperialist troops under the Karzai/Ghani US puppet administrations. Indeed, women’s rights and LGBT rights are never on the agenda when the US state department deals with Saudi Arabia or any other administration in the Middle East.[28]

While the Taliban and their current adjusted interpretations of Islam are not necessarily progressive compared to the march of history, neither can they today be depicted as turban wearing medieval tribesmen – as the “woke imperium” would prefer it portrayed. Insofar as the Taliban combat imperialist proxy forces such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, and seek to reconstruct and develop Afghanistan through economic, diplomatic and security co-operation with Russia, China and Eurasia – working people cannot afford to echo covert or overt Western calls for regime change in the IEA. There is an opportunity for some economic development for the IEA via regional Eurasian integration, though imperialism will seek to sabotage this at each step.

Economic development via the BRI and the EAEU is a necessary first step for the IEA, but this in itself is not a step forward on the path to socialism. What is ultimately required is the building of genuine Marxist vanguard parties in Afghanistan and throughout Eurasia. Despite current appearances, this is not beyond the realms of possibility, especially given the history of the pro-socialist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) led government of 1977 to 1992. For workers in Afghanistan and Eurasia, defence against imperialism requires tactical alliances with the governments of Russia, China, Iran and other neighbours. Yet no political endorsement can be proffered to any political force outside of sworn defenders of unfalsified Leninism and the theory of Permanent Revolution. War, terrorism, exploitation, fraudulent pandemics – all of this and more must be swept into the dustbin of history through the victory of the proletariat via regionally integrated workers’ states.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/11/afghanistan-talibans-catastrophic-year-rule (17-08-2022)

[2] https://www.globalresearch.ca/human-rights-watch-charges-russia-but-not-america-war-censorship/5773001 (17-08-2022)

[3] www.countercurrents.org/2022/08/taliban-break-up-afghan-womens-protest-in-kabul/ (17-08-2022)

[4] www.sott.net/article/457113-Pepe-Escobar-How-Russia-China-are-stage-managing-the-Taliban (17-08-2022)

[5] www.usip.org/publications/2022/03/afghanistans-frozen-foreign-exchange-reserves-what-happened-whats-next (18-08-2022)

[6] www.cepr.net/press-release/over-70-economists-call-for-biden-administration-to-return-afghanistans-central-bank-reserves/ (18-08-2022)

[7] www.aspeniaonline.it/reading-the-doha-agreement-literally/ (18-08-2022)

[8] www.redfireonline.com/2021/08/30/afghanistan-us-empire-shadow-boxing-with-isis-k/ (18-08-2022)

[9] https://rac-vic.org/2021/08/17/afghanistan-refugee-crisis-five-urgent-demands/ (18-08-2022)

[10] www.republicworld.com/technology-news/social-media-news/taliban-targeting-us-collaborators-discreetly-will-execute-unless-they-surrender-un.html (18-08-2022)

[11] www.businessinsider.com/the-interpreters-left-for-dead-in-afghanistan-2021-6?op=1 (18-08-2022)

[12] www.acij.org.au/our-work/international-accountability/afghanistan/australian-war-crimes-in-afghanistan-questions-and-answers/ (18-08-2022)

[13] www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/spain-has-evacuated-3900-afghan-collaborators-since-august-2021/ (18-08-2022)

[14] www.worldometers.info/world-population/afghanistan-population/ (18-08-2022)

[15] www.herald.co.zw/afghanistan-curse-of-collaborators/ (18-08-2022)

[16] www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11108623/Taliban-break-womens-demo-Kabul-protesters-call-girls-allowed-school.html (18-08-2022)

[17] www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/18/taliban-use-harsh-tactics-crush-afghan-womens-rights-protest (18-08-2022)

[18] www.thecradle.co/Article/news/14289 (21-08-2022)

[19] www.asiatimes.com/2021/07/the-taliban-go-to-tianjin/ (21-08-2022)

[20] www.idrw.org/willing-to-extend-china-pakistan-economic-corridor-to-afghanistan-chinese-foreign-minister-wang/ (21-08-2022)

[21] www.thecradle.co/Article/columns/12648 (21-08-2022)

[22] www.redfireonline.com/2022/04/26/pakistan-pm-khan-deposed-in-us-backed-coup/ (21-08-2022)

[23] www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220802-afghans-cast-doubt-on-kabul-killing-of-al-qaeda-chief (21-08-2022)

[24] www.theprint.in/world/us-drone-strike-that-killed-zawahiri-raises-questions-over-pakistans-possible-role/1074354/ (21-08-2022)

[25] www.thenational.scot/news/national/20670220.prominent-cleric-among-21-killed-kabul-mosque-bombing/ (21-08-2022)

[26] www.ariananews.af/islamic-emirate-committed-to-fighting-isis-in-afghanistan-haqqani/ (21-08-2022)

[27] www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2022/08/15/violence-in-afghanistan-has-dropped-under-the-taliban (21-08-2022)

[28] www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220816-dont-judge-the-taliban-after-just-one-year-in-charge/ (21-08-2022)

Photo credit: http://www.todayonline.com   – Taliban fighters hold flags of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on a street in Kabul on August 15, 2022, the first anniversary of the IEA.

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