What is the best option for Afghanistan?
a. More number of USA/NATO forces and a prolonged war to wipe out Taliban
b. Gradual withdrawal of USA/NATO forces and handing over of power to Karzai and ‘good’ Taliban
c.Immediate withdrawal of USA/NATO forces and leave Afghanistan for its own people
My feeling is the answer is c. Immediate withdrawal of Occupation forces and leaving Afghanistan to its people is the best and most democratic option.
Foreign troops do not grow democracy and peace especially in a complex geo-political situation like that in Afghanistan. If it could have succeeded it should have won the battle for peace and democracy within a short period of time.After 8 years of occupation by USA/NATO forces the chances of the Occupying Army ‘teaching’ the people democracy is very slim. On the other hand the Occupation and killing of hundreds of civilians is in turn fueling insurgency.
Let us hear what those fighting the war lords and fundamentalists have to say:
As a teacher in the secret schools that educated girls – strictly banned by the Taliban – she walked around western Afghanistan at the end of the 1990s with books hidden beneath the enveloping burqa.
Elected the youngest member of the Afghan parliament – and suspended for her outspoken criticism of the country’s top officials – Malalai Joya has been labelled the bravest woman in Afghanistan.
Small, soft-spoken and now 31, she has survived at least four assassination attempts and is angry at the oppressive life she is forced to lead, dodging enemies she has denounced as bloody-handed warlords and drug kingpins. She sleeps in safe houses, with a rotating squad of bodyguards securing the doors. She goes out only in a billowing burqa. Even her wedding was held in secret.
Malalai Joya says;
“Liberation was just a big lie.The United States/NATO should go. As long as foreign troops are in the country we will be fighting two enemies instead of one.”
Yes, she says, there is a risk of civil war, as happened when the Soviet Union gave up the fight against U.S.-backed Afghan Islamists 20 years ago. But it would still be better than “night raids, torture and aerial bombardment” that killed hundreds of Afghan civilians while the Taliban made steady gains.
Joya believes Afghans are now better prepared to battle the Taliban alone – if the warlords are disarmed, and the international community helps build a society that can push back against extremism.
It is a tall order, she admits. But “resistance has increased, and people are becoming more aware of democracy and human rights. They need humanitarian and educational support.”
But not, she adds, at the point of a gun.
The Afghan public, she adds, are on her side, pointing to a recent opinion poll showing 60 per cent of Afghans want an immediate NATO withdrawal. Many people in Afghanistan were hopeful, she says, about Barack Obama – “but he is actually intensifying the policy of George Bush… I know his election has great symbolic value in terms of the struggle of African-Americans for equal rights, and this struggle is one I admire and respect. But what is important for the world is not whether the President is black or white, but his actions. You can’t eat symbolism.”
US policy is driven by geopolitics, she says, not personalities. “Afghanistan is in the heart of Asia, so it’s a very important place to have military bases – so they can control trade very easily with other Asian powers such as China, Russia, Iran and so on.
“But it can be changed by Americans,” she adds. She is passionate now, her voice rising. “I say to Obama – in my area, 150 people were blown up by US troops in one incident this year. If your family had been there, would you send even more troops and even more bombs? Your government is spending $18m (£11m) to make another Guantanamo jail in Bagram. If your daughter might be detained there, would you be building it? I say to Obama – change course, or otherwise tomorrow people will call you another Bush.”
Founded in 1977,Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan [RAWA] is the oldest political and social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy, and women’s rights in an Afghanistan blighted by fundamentalism. Their members risk personal safety and dedicate their lives to improving conditions for all Afghan women; many have been assassinated, included RAWA’s founder, Meena.
The organization calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.
During October 2009, RAWA sponsored a speaking tour of the U.S. Representing RAWA’s Foreign Committee, Zoya spoke in a meeting in a University in Iowa,USA:
“I want to focus on the eight years of occupation by the United States and NATO countries, “Unfortunately, the West’s impression that Afghanistan has been liberated by the United States, that Afghanistan is a free country, that we are enjoying freedom and democracy to our country is untrue,” said Zoya.
“Yes, Afghanistan is free for the warlords. Afghanistan is free for drug lords. Afghanistan is free for rapists to rape children and women. Afghanistan is free for United States troops to kill our civilians, our children, our women, day by day in so-called mistakes,” said Zoya.
Zoya is a RAWA member whose parents were killed by extremists in Afghanistan when she was in her teens. She honors her mother’s work for women’s rights by continuing in her footsteps. Education of women, often in refugee camps and orphanages, has produced a generation of women like Zoya who are able in turn to educate us about conditions in their country.A refugee currently living in Pakistan, Zoya uses a pseudonym when traveling and speaking because her life has been threatened by fundamentalists. She also asked photographers not to photograph her face.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of its geo-political, economic, and regional strategic goals and to build military bases there, said Zoya, “not to liberate women.”
Freedom, democracy, and justice cannot be exported and forced on other countries at gunpoint, but instead are achieved over time through a long and arduous process, said Zoya.
“Those who claim to donate these values to the Afghan people through force will only push our country into slavery. It is our responsibility to stand up to fundamentalists and occupations,” said Zoya.
The women of Afghanistan, after eight years of occupation, offer conflicting advice, depending on their position in society. If the women are in Kabul, are educated and affluent, and have family members in office or are part of the government, they sometimes say, “our safety is in danger if U.S. troops leave.” If the women are in the countryside (and 90% are) they say, “get the troops out now. Our rights, our freedoms, our safety have not improved in eight years of occupation — and the occupation fuels the insurgency.” In this complex war-torn nation, both opinions are valid.
Both Zoya and Malalai must live in safe houses and move frequently, as their truth-telling has resulted in death threats against them. Yet asked what she fears, Malalai said: “I don’t fear death. I fear political silence against injustice.” And from her website Malaijoya.com this statement, echoes fears raised during the rise of fascism in 20th century Europe: “The silence of good people is worse than the actions of bad people.”
Although the robotic killer drones strike wedding parties and funerals, crossing into Pakistan freely, the insurgency grows. Terrorists are created faster than they are being killed. But maybe that’s the real goal?
Speak up and expose the so-called war on terror for what it really is: a marketing strategy for corporate profits, Zoya adds..
Although the group initially welcomed the U.S. presence, RAWA changed its stance after learning that the United States is helping fundamentalist groups.
“I think it’s the Afghan people’s responsibility to fight [against fundamentalist groups],” she said.
Yes Afghanistan should fight its own battle against fundamentalism.The rest of the World should support the democratic forces from outside..
Let me end this post with a quote of Malalai Joya.
“They will kill me but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring”.
links and acknowledgments
the independent malalaijoya.com