by Zia Sarhadi (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 8, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1432)
Since April 1978, the Afghans have experienced nothing but war. An entire generation has grown up with violence, murder and mayhem. First it was the Russians, followed by various Afghan factions fighting it out among themselves, then came the Taliban and now the Americans and their NATO allies.
Since April 1978, the Afghans have experienced nothing but war. An entire generation has grown up with violence, murder and mayhem. First it was the Russians, followed by various Afghan factions fighting it out among themselves, then came the Taliban and now the Americans and their NATO allies. Since October 2011, the Americans have exhausted everything in their arsenal except nuclear bombs but have not been able to subdue the primitive yet intrepid Afghans. The Americans have used depleted uranium shells; they always do this against poorly armed opponents. They used such munitions in Iraq as well. Other people — men, women and children — are treated as guinea pigs for America’s murderous wares. Western racism is all too evident.
On the tenth anniversary of the US- NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, resistance against foreign occupation forces has escalated to a level where not a single American commander dares utter the word “victory” in the longest US war. Yet, Washington warlords seem not to have had enough of bloodletting, all because of their rage over the 9/11 attacks in which no Afghan was involved. Despite media allegations, according to the FBI, even Osama bin Laden was not accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks. So why attack Afghanistan and, what has become of the mighty US?
In these columns we have frequently highlighted the reasons for America’s war of aggression against the Afghans that spawned such torture chambers as the Bagram Airbase, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the countless black holes into which perhaps thousands of people have simply disappeared. The US war has also given birth to a new euphemistic vocabulary that anesthetizes occupation: collateral damage (read murder of innocent civilians); enhanced interrogation techniques (torture); extraordinary rendition (translation, kidnapping); Special Operations Forces (for extra-judicial muders without due process) and of course the drone attacks (nightly raids on the homes of Afghans killing innocent men, women and children as if they were insects).
But US brutality has merely strengthened the Afghans’ resolve. In a memorable statement just before the Americans launched their attack on Afghanistan, Taliban leader Mullah Omar was asked by a western reporter what he would do in the face of the US onslaught with B-2 bombers dropping 1,000-pound bombs? The Taliban leader replied: “Afghanistan is a vast country. We will fight them in the hills and the valleys and ultimately, we will drive them out of Afghanistan as we have driven out all previous invaders.” The western reporter clearly considered the response absurd given the quantitative and qualitative superiority of US weapons. What the West, however, has never been able to figure out is that it is often not the gun but the man behind the gun that determines the outcome of a struggle. The Afghans are a good example of this.
Last month witnessed an escalation in Taliban attacks. It started with the daring September 13 attack by six Taliban fighters on the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. They climbed atop an under-construction 12-storey building and fought US and Afghan forces for 19 hours. Some 27 people, among them five Afghan soldiers, were killed in three separate attacks in different parts of Kabul. These followed the September 10 truck bomb attack on a US base in Eastern Afghanistan in which 80 American soldiers were wounded and two Afghans killed. There were more setbacks for the Americans and their NATO allies when 21 oil tankers were attacked and set ablaze near Quetta on September 17. Next day (September 18) five tankers were set ablaze in Afghan-istan’s Farah Province. Fuel is the life blood of the foreign occupation troops. These attacks were preceded in August on the British Cultural Centre and a June attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel on the eve of a conference on Security Transition to Afghan security forces.
On September 25, an Afghan employee of the CIA shot and killed one CIA contractor and wounded another. The CIA has used the Ariana Hotel as its base in Kabul. This occurred five days after the former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and head of the High Peace Council was killed by a suicide bomber.
The most spectacular of all these attacks was the 20-hour US embassy and NATO headquarters siege. While militarily it was not significant — six Taliban fighters could hardly fight off the entire US army with its huge fleet of bombers and helicopters as well as the Afghan army and police — but psychologically, it was a big blow to the US. It exposed the Afghan army to be incapable of taking on security duties in Kabul. Since July, security for Kabul has been handed over to the Afghans in preparation for the gradual withdrawal of US and NATO forces that is scheduled for completion by 2014. In light of these attacks, this timetable appears unrealistic. The Taliban seem to have calculated that the Americans and their allies can be pushed out of Afghanistan sooner than 2014. Given the precarious state of the US economy and rapidly falling support for the longest US war in history at home, the Taliban may be right.
Not surprisingly, the Americans have accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of backing and coordinating attacks by the Haqqani network. American CIA director Leon Panetta was the first off the mark accusing Pakistan of backing the Haqqanis and facilitating their attacks on US-NATO forces. On September 19, this allegation was repeated in even more stark terms at a senate hearing by the outgoing Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. He stated bluntly that Pakistan’s ISI was behind these attacks, evoking a rare public rebuke from Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani dismissing it outright.
While the uneasy US-Pakistan relations have nosedived since the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden by American forces in Abbotabad, Pakistan, the recent string of attacks have given the Americans an excuse to blame their military failures on the Pakistanis. Consider the killing of the CIA contractor inside a secure compound on September 25; was Pakistan or the Haqqani network also responsible for recruiting him? What has become apparent is that many Taliban sleepers have infiltrated the Afghan army and police as well as other security outfits employed by the Americans. Some may not even be Taliban supporters; they could be disgruntled Afghans upset over the killing of their family members by the Americans. The crude tactics used by Americans to barge into people’s homes violating their honor and dignity are something the Afghans do not easily forget or forgive. The Afghans may be poor but they are not without sense of honor and dignity. Try taking that away from them and they will fight back regardless of the odds. This is something the Americans and their allies have failed to understand. Even their puppet, Hamid Karzai, has repeatedly called for an end to the night raids by US Special Forces. Americans refuse to heed or learn. The Taliban appear determined to teach them this lesson the hard way.
Last month, nearly 40 US and NATO soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. It is unlikely that this number will decline in the coming months as the Taliban step up their attacks, based on their calculation that the Americans cannot withstand such systematic attacks for too long.
The endgame in Afghanistan is fast approaching. While America may bomb its way out through Pakistan, the latter paying a heavy price for jumping in bed with the Great Satan, the Afghans would have taught another arrogant imperial power the folly of invading their country. Once foreign troops have been driven out, it is more than likely that the Afghans will resume fighting among themselves but that is a different story altogether.
How many more Afghans will be murdered by the Americans and their allies is one statistic the western powers are uninterested in. The only lives they care about are their own. Actually they do not care even for the lives of their own; only their financial interests are paramount for which they are prepared to kill millions of innocent people. This is a price the Afghans are prepared to pay. What they are not prepared to accept is foreign occupation or domination of their country.