After continuing more than 18 years of devastating war on Afghanistan, the USA ceremoniously signed a peace agreement with the Talibans on 29 February, 2020 in Doha, Qatar, in presence of observers and dignitaries from various pro-US NATO countries and US imperialist partners including India. Conspicuously omitted was the Afghan government itself, which is to implement the agreement. Also noteworthy was that on behalf of the Talibans, the deal was signed by its political Chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, “who was arrested in Karachi 10 years ago by Pakistan’s security services in a joint operation with the CIA” (Aljazeera15-03-20).
Afghan war of US
The US military aggression in Afghanistan, then under the rule of the Talibans, quite widely known to the world as a brute fundamentalist force, had started in 2001. Notably, it was on 7 October 2001, i.e. nearly a month after the 9/11 attack, that a U.S.-led coalition began military aggression on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with an intense bombing and toppled the Talibani government. As many as 1,00,000 US troops and about 50,000 soldiers from US allies were deployed in Afghanistan to carry out the invasion and overthrow the Taliban from power. The war launched by the war-monger US imperialists included both air and ground attacks to brazenly invade Afghan land ravaging Afghanistan’s abjectly impoverished people. Civilian casualties meanwhile rose amid a worsening security situation over the years as the Taliban regrouped, expanded and strengthened their military campaign in different parts of the country. In October 2018, US officials and Taliban representatives held their first meeting in Doha bypassing the Afghan government. Even as the talks were under way, violence spiked with 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injuries between July and September 30, representing a 42 percent increase over the same period compared with the year before. According to the data provided by the US Central Command Combined Air Operations Center, US air force dropped a record 7,423 bombs on Afghanistan – more than at any time in the last 10 years. More than 100,000 Afghans have been killed or wounded since 2009 when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties. Now, after renewed efforts in December last, the so called peace initiative is stated to be over by 2021. That means, the US-sponsored bloodshed and Talibani tyranny which had nothing to do with the interest of the Afghan people continued for 20 long years. Now, while the Talibans are reportedly jubilant, the common Afghan people and the saner democratic-minded people of the world are sceptical about the outcome and honouring of the agreement.
The peace agreement signed is aimed at ending nearly 20 years of war, reducing US forces stationed there from 14,000 to 8,600 within 135 days, total withdrawal of US and NATO military from that land, commencement of Taliban—Afghan government peace talks from 10 March 2020 to determine what role the Talibans would play thereafter in Afghanistan and to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange of 1,000 Afghan security forces in captivity of the Talibanis. The entire process would be completed by April 2021.
Brief history of US taking up the task of creating-nurturing-fanning fundamentalist forces
It is pertinent to recall that the Afghan society was long bogged down in medieval fundamentalist overbearing regime. The process of democratization had been initiated there only after Second World War with the help of the USSR under great Stalin. But with the revisionist Khrushchevite leadership which assumed power in the USSR after Stalin’s demise adopting hegemonic attitude in Afghanistan, not only that process of democratization was halted but also paved the way for US imperialism to sneak into the land. And then the US imperialist rulers used their notorious espionage network to unleash a virulent anti-Soviet anti-socialist campaign and throw Afghanistan into tatters economically, politically and socially, step-by-step. At the same time, the Pentagon rulers in keeping with their imperialist machination, backed and nurtured the fundamentalist forces to grow into dangerous shapes. First in the1970s, there was the Mujahedeen, an alliance of Islamic fundamentalist groups. Then Al Qaeda, another trans-national conglomerate of rabid Islamic fundamentalists led by Osama bin Laden, a non-Afghan mujahedeen, was created in 1988. With such menacing rise of arch fundamentalist forces coupled with outbreak of violent clashes among various blood- thirsty tribal warlords and a failed adventurist step of the revisionist Soviet leadership to regain control of Kabul by force landed Afghanistan into a state of total chaos, persistent violence, in-fighting and political instability.
US – Taliban coupling: formed and ruptured
In this pathetic turbulent situation, there emerged the Taliban militia in 1994. Again, it was the US imperialists, along with the Pakistani rulers, that patronized, armed, trained and supported the Talibans to grow. The Talibans recruited thousands of young Afghan men, refugees and orphans from the war, rootless, jobless, economically deprived sections of people and brainwashed them with fundamentalist preaching. In absence of any left-democratic forces and with leftism having been considerably maligned in that land because of flawed action of the Soviet revisionist leadership, these hard-core fundamentalist Talibanis gained strength rapidly and rode to governmental power in 1996 with the backing of the Pakistani army and ruled upto 2001. Even this brief rule of the Talibans was marked by abject violation of human rights, imposition of mindless restrictions upon people, particularly the womenfolk. Bullying people into blind submission, denial of any kind of freedom of expression and right to democratic associations and activities became the hallmark of the Taliban rule. It thus stood as the stumbling block to all sorts of development and progress of Afghanistan. It was by way of Talibani despotism that the US imperialists worked their stratagem of establishing political domination as well as military intervention in Afghanistan whose geographical location was very strategic for the US imperialists to extend their sphere of influence in the entire oil and natural gas-rich Middle East.
Not surprisingly, within no time, aspirant power-monger forces ideologically anchored in rabid fundamentalism and autocracy, such as Al Qaeda and the Talibans had turned even against the US imperialists, their chief mentor and patron. Since throughout the later decades of the twentieth century, the US imperialists with the help of CIA and Zionist Israeli regime had been weaving one conspiracy after another in the entire Middle East to firm up their control, a strong anti-US imperialist sentiment began to grow in this part of the world including Afghanistan. The Al Qaeda tried to exploit this unfolding anti-US sentiment by trying to rally people behind it by using terror as a weapon. The Talibans gave them protection in Afghanistan. Finding their own creations turning Frankenstein and out to foil their gameplan, the US imperialists, extremely cunning as they are, branded both Al Qaeda and Talibani as ‘terrorist outfits’ and pretended to be at loggerheads with them. In fact, the blunt acts of both these outfits and the brutalities they displayed helped the Pentagon rulers to considerably diffuse the growing anti-US sentiment and arrogate to themselves a kind of sanction to invade and stay in Afghanistan in the name of “bringing democracy and containing terrorism”.
Shortly after the 9/11 terror strike in the USA in 2001, the US-imperialists which accused the Islamic fundamentalist organizations of orchestrating the attack, along with their NATO allies, launched ‘pre-emptive’ air strikes on Afghanistan in the name of “Operation Enduring Freedom” from the terrorists. Following that, the US imperialists succeeded in established in 2004 a pliant regime in Afghanistan which still continues to be in power. The Afghan people had to bear the brunt of a long, gruelling strife. While the commentators in the bourgeois media highlight loss of 1,400 American soldiers in Afghan war of occupation, they suppress the fact this US-sponsored war has killed several hundreds of thousands innocent civilians and a good number of Afghan soldiers. Property losses remain unaccounted. But the Talibans continue to persist surviving upon people’s resentment against US belligerence and making hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the drug trade, illegal mining and forced extortions. One only wonders if they could have survived without silent backing of none other than the US occupiers.
The hurdles to peace: Crisis in Kabul, the capital
Now that two such warring sides are posing to have come to truce, peace-loving people of the world, particularly of Afghanistan might be dreaming of a brighter future. But truly speaking, the agreement has little to expect there is little to expect from the agreement. As mentioned above, the Afghan government was not a party to the agreement. This exclusion itself questions the sincerity of the purpose of the agreement. The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has raised objections, for obvious reasons, over several clauses of the peace agreement thrust on it. He has asserted that the American government has no authority to dictate on releasing Taliban prisoners as it is an exclusive preserve of the Afghan government and hence could never be a part of the peace agreement with the Talibans. On the contrary, the Talibanis have launched 33 attacks in 16 provinces leading to 20 dead within a span of two days. The Afghan government, in its turn has refused to release all the prisoners.
Besides, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the runner-up in the last presidential election as also Gulbadin Hikmatyar, another powerful leader, have challenged the victory of the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani. Hence political crisis is very likely to continue to plague Afghanistan. There are also other confusions which might worsen the situation and lead to another civil war.
The hurdles: Withdrawal of US troops
The agreement calls for withdrawal of US troops. But people are apprehensive. The US imperialists have announced similar pull-outs in the past, but never honoured them. This time too, US imperialism has started saying that adhering to US troop withdrawal timeline would primarily depend on to what extent the Talibans fulfill their commitment towards establishing peace. The US has also imposed conditions seeking guarantee that Afghanistan would not to be used as a base of insurgent operations by Al-Qaeda and ISIS. But fact is that it was the US military which was earlier alleged to be allowing members of the ISIS, which have suffered serious defeats in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, to infiltrate Afghanistan. US President Trump is even thinking for appointing a mediator to resolve Afghan inner-conflicts which is indicative enough of continued US dominance in Afghanistan.
The Talibans, apparent gainers
On the other side, the Talibanis, who call the Afghan government a puppet of the USA, are themselves conflict-ridden. The Afghan government which itself is considerably weak, both politically and militarily, cannot on its own overcome the severe economic-political crisis the country is enmeshed in, nor can it take any firm independent stand against the terrorists within the country as also the Islamic states backing them. The Talibans are waiting eagerly to grab the opportunity. True, talks between the Talibanis and the Afghan government have resumed, but its frailty is evident. In fact, at any opportune moment the Talibans may resume civil war in Afghanistan again with the objective of regaining governmental power.
Peace remains elusive as stakeholders look for a ground to exploit and rule unhindered
The US imperialists with their engagement in peace talks with the Taliban leaders pretended as if they were keen to exit the country. But camouflaged behind this apparent peace manoeuvre is to find a way to sustain the interest of America’s ‘Industrial-Military-Bureaucratic-Complex’ and the MNCs in Afghanistan. It is the common US citizens who are footing the bill of this prolonged war on a foreign land. It is the American mothers who cry on the body bags of their children who went to fulfil imperialist mission in Afghanistan.
Donald Trump, as the chieftain of the US imperialist brigand, might try to project himself as the peace-maker in the war-ravaged Afghanistan and the peace-loving world. But with all these questions remaining, not only that the agreement faces a bleak future, it also stands out as a ploy of the US President to present himself as a peace-broker before the American people as part of his ensuing presidential election campaign in November 2020. The US imperialists cannot leave Afghanistan in peace. Like the Talibans, the US imperialists require this strife-torn, war-devastated country to remain in constant turbulence so that they can keep their brigandish control on it through tricks and treacheries and using the fundamentalist-terrorist forces with ‘carrot and stick’ policy.
There are other players and stakeholders in the Afghan peace process too. Pakistan has all through promoted and protected the religious fundamentalist-terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda and the Talibans in Afghanistan. Pakistani rulers have been continuing that stand. The ruling Indian monopolists, who are now becoming a trusted strategic partner of US imperialism to emerge as a super power in Asia, also have imperialist interest in Afghanistan. Indian monopolists have been investing a lot in Afghanistan in the name of assisting and reconstructing that country. While peace is a prerogative for investment, turmoil too creates the ground for capital deployment under the cloak of aiding reconstruction. So, despite occasional conflicts, both Indian and Pakistani rulers are working in tandem with the US imperialists with a view to weakening the growing anti-imperialist nationalist sentiment of the suffering Afghan people. Both US President and Indian Prime Minister have feigned concern for Afghanistan. During their recent bilateral talk also, Afghanistan had featured. Indian interest in Afghanistan is both economic and political. Besides deployment of capital to exploit abundant natural resources comprising barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, sulfur, zinc etc. besides vast forestry, strategic geographic location of the country are also of importance to the ruling Indian monopolists. Curbing the influence of Pakistan is also another political goal. That is why, though the Indian rulers talked of supporting “an Afghan-led and Afghan- Afghan-owned but not Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process that results in a sustainable peace, cessation of violence, elimination of terrorist safe havens, and preservation of the gains of the last 18 years,” they have notably refrained from making any statement about the peace process and nature of rule to be decided by the Afghan people which is the normal internationally accepted democratic principle. But, both the US imperialists and their Indian counterpart skipped this aspect as if it is incumbent on other superpowers to decide the fate of an independent sovereign country like Afghanistan.
Summing up: Afghan people are to get at the truth
So the matters stand at: the Talibans are tending to a civil war to rise again to power; the US and Pakistan are backing them; India hand-in- glove with the US imperialists welcome the ‘gains’ of peace agreement to reap further benefits from the devastation impending before the Afghan people. This so called ‘peace’ would soon be overshadowed by the clouds of war-exploitation- uncertainty and imperialist brigandage.
The crying need for the common peace-seeking people of this poorest of poor country is to consciously look through the events and judge these vital questions, developments and strategies in proper light. Unless the US and NATO forces to the last single individual are driven out; with simultaneous and uncompromising fight against all divisive religious fundamentalist forces both in their own country as well as in Pakistan and other countries and unless Afghan people acquire necessary political consciousness to understand what is right and what is wrong, assert their own political power to fight for their own rights and decide what should be the pattern of governance in their motherland to build an economically sound, democratic and secular Afghanistan, they would continue to be assailed by enemy forces and vested interest from both inside and outside. In one voice, anti-imperialist forces across the world too should raise the slogan: “War-monger and death merchant US and NATO must withdraw all troops and leave Afghanistan”, “No place for divisive religious fundamentalism in Afghanistan”, “Afghanistan must be developed a secular, democratic and sovereign country, free from foreign interference to ensure fulfilment of aspiration of the toiling Afghan people for their unstinted growth and development”.