by Brecht Jonkers (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 1, Rajab, 1443)
For the first time in 20 years, a new year has dawned on Afghanistan. It is finally free from imperialist domination. The resilient people of West Asia certainly have much to be proud of. Two decades of occupation and invasion by the world’s foremost arrogant and hegemonic power came to an ignominious and inglorious end in 2021. The forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan pushed US forces and their local mercenaries out of Kabul and established a new, independent system of governance.
Ever since the attacks on New York and Washington DC in September 2001, that had little to do with Afghanistan, millions of Afghans have been punished for a crime they did not commit. By indulging in mass murder, ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and the promotion of drug use, hundreds of thousands of Afghans died under horrible circumstances and many millions more were subjected to indescribable cruelty.
But even after the humiliating defeat inflicted on US-led coalition forces in the longest war in US history, the suffering of the Afghan people has not ended. When the last American soldier fled with his tail between his legs, the Empire immediately froze $10 billion of Afghan sovereign funds. This was an attempt to try and stir up public opinion into an anti-Afghan frenzy with typical over-the-top propaganda stories of “Taliban cruelty” and “human rights violations.”
Apparently, over 200,000 Afghan deaths were not enough to satiate the bloodlust of the imperialist cabal in Washington. This next step was in reality daylight robbery of the urgently-needed money of what was already one of the poorest countries in the world.
To say that every dime counts for the Afghan people is an understatement. According to UN estimates, the after effects of two decades of constant war and occupation combined with current heavy sanctions against the Islamic Emirate have left some 55% of all Afghans facing extreme hunger. That is 23 million innocent men, women and children who face the specter of death by starvation every single day. The reason for this should be obvious: Afghanistan is deliberately being starved to death, just like the Zionists are doing to Gaza and the Bani Saud to Yemen.
Following the Afghan Resistance victory over the imperialist forces, the US stopped almost all foreign aid to the West Asian country, followed swiftly by the EU, IMF and World Bank. True, these usurious and corrupt institutions are far from preferable trading partners for any self-respecting Islamic state. But we need to bear in mind that the Afghan economy for the past 20 years has been under the control of what must be accurately called puppets of the globalist world order. They had a vested interest in ensuring that Afghanistan is not able to build an independent economic powerbase.
The result was that by the end of the war, up to 80% of Afghanistan’s annual income came exclusively from foreign aid. It is unreasonable to expect the Islamic Emirate’s government to somehow “fix” the economy immediately without having a proper economic base to start from.
In a mind-boggling show of truly heartless immorality combined with despicable propaganda, US President Joe Biden announced on February 11 to “withdraw” (read: steal) billions of Afghan Central Bank funds and siphon them for financial support of victims of the 911 attacks. Indeed, Afghan money is taken away from war victims, widows and orphans in Afghanistan to be given to victims and survivors of a terrorist attack with which the Afghans had absolutely nothing to do.
This financial attack against Kabul serves triple purpose: first, it continues the Empire’s war against the people of Afghanistan by plunging them further into famine and poverty without the US needing to fire a single shot. Second, it creates easily accessible funds for the Democrats to “donate” to victims of terrorism in the United States, thereby funding their “look at how much better than Trump we are” agenda without actually needing to use America’s own, rapidly dwindling, financial assets. And third, and most perversely, it plays on the subconscious and completely unjustified mental connection many people still make between 9/11 and Afghanistan.
One of the most influential and yet somehow most hidden-away lies that the imperial war machine has been drilling into the public’s mind is that the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was justified in the name of counter-terrorism. Even among generally well-meaning anti-war activists and anti-imperialists in the imperial core, people who correctly called out the invasion of Iraq, the annihilation of Libya or the arming of takfiri goons to fight against Syria, there is still this very persistent idea that the invasion of Afghanistan and the war against the Islamic Emirate movement (or Taliban, as the West prefers to keep calling them) was a separate case. A horrible conflict, yes, but one ultimately instigated by Taliban connection to al-Qaeda and the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Regardless of the intricacies of what went down on that fateful day that would determine our collective lifetimes ever since, and without getting into the still under-researched question of who stood to benefit the most out of this, or into the detained “Israelis” who were found filming and making merry while watching the destruction, there is one fact that the Empire has been unable to deny and has instead tried to hush out of public discourse.
This is the simple fact that upon being asked to hand over Osama bin Laden on suspicion of being behind the attacks, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan did not refuse outright. Instead, they merely asked for evidence. The rule of law states that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty, and when talking about matters of extradition this issue should be taken all the more seriously. But not, apparently, when the world’s foremost imperial superpower demands something.
Just like Britain is holding Julian Assange under inhumane conditions without any proper judicial procedures, likely hoping to break his spirit and mind or even kill him before the US needs to start its show trial against him, the rules of humanity never seem to apply to the imperial core and their leadership. Indeed, in 2001 the Bush regime used the mere fact that Kabul asked for proof to justify an invasion and military occupation of this key West Asian country. An invasion that, of course, had nothing to do with fighting terrorism but with economic and geopolitical interests.
If there is one thing that the past months have shown with undeniable clarity, it is the admirable resilience of the Afghan people. Far from letting the deluge of unjustifiable attacks get them down, the Afghan people and the new government have been toiling ceaselessly, trying to build up their country once again. Despite suffering from severe lack of funds, Kabul has approved a plan to provide financial assistance to war victims, injured veterans, and families and orphans of those killed in battle in the past 20 years on either side of the conflict.
“Under the Islamic Emirate, aid will be provided to martyrs’ families, disabled people, orphans and also orphans of the previous governments’ security forces,” Bilal Karimi, Deputy Spokesman for the Islamic Emirate said in a simple matter-of-fact statement. This is a gargantuan task as the estimates for US-backed former government security forces who died in battle numbers some 90,000. The number of people who died fighting the invaders is not really known.
Afghanistan has also played a remarkably active and positive role on the international scene ever since the US occupation ended. Afghan delegations have visited the Islamic Republic of Iran during which the need for opposing US plots of division and sectarianism was clearly voiced. Kabul has also reached out to both Beijing and Islamabad, where the inclusion of Afghanistan into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is now on the agenda. If Afghanistan were to indeed find its place in the New Silk Road program, this would be a major slap in the face of the US Empire and basically negate a core premise of why the US invaded in the first place.
The level-headed and austere attitude that the Islamic Emirate has shown has garnered sympathy even in the West. Media reports showing the reaction of battle-hardened Afghans who have spent most of their lives fighting for their very survival in the mountains, upon witnessing the opulent and decadent mansion of US-backed warlord Abdul-Rashid Dostum, have served to finally show the human face of the often dehumanised Afghan resistance.
The pointlessness of continuing what was after all the longest war in US history by economic means has become clear even to some in the very halls of Washington DC. Forty House Democrats urged Biden in December to unfreeze Afghan financial assets and relax economic restrictions on Afghanistan. “Maintaining this policy could cause more civilian deaths in the coming year than were lost in 20 years of war,” the lawmakers wrote in their message to Biden. This calls to mind an analogy with the terrible consequences of Western economic sanctions on Syria, which has already led to a situation in which many people are suffering worse than during the period of actual military conflict.
Britain’s former defence chief, General Sir David Richards echoed these sentiments with a surprisingly clear admission of his country’s failure. “I think this is the occasion for us to be magnanimous in defeat,” Richards said. Former Afghan general Samar Sadat added that “The Americans were strategically defeated in Afghanistan, they have to accept this defeat, because the government that was the result of the 20-year presence of NATO and the US collapsed in front of America’s eyes.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the West will indeed come around and accept the inevitable: that they lost, and the Afghan resistance has won despite all odds. The cases of Iraq and Syria show just how vengeful the Empire can be even after suffering a resounding defeat on the field of battle. Deeply ingrained feelings of superiority and western supremacy are, apparently, hard to let go even when faced with mountains of evidence to the contrary. However, regardless of the feelings of those in power in Washington, London or elsewhere, one point should clear: the Afghan resistance has been victorious, and is here to stay.