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Issue #1544      25 April 2012

Still killed and killing in the lost Afghanistan War

Has anyone told the media that the NATO forces are losing the war in Afghanistan? The capital city, Kabul, supposedly the safest place in the country was faced with a sustained and deadly attack last week which lasted 18 hours. Attacked among other places were the parliament building, the German and British embassies and NATO headquarters.

This was the worst attack in 11 years of war. Dozens of fighters managed to evade elaborate security systems, highly paid western security guards, Afghan army and police, NATO forces, and high levels of electronic surveillance to hole up in a high rise building as their base.

Yet the media have by and large reported this as nothing much out of the ordinary. They quote President Karzai as saying that it was down to intelligence failures.

The British embassy reported not much damage done, except to its gates. And military officials proclaimed themselves happy with the response of the Afghan army which they claim fronted up the defence of Kabul.

The impression given is that this was purely a little local difficulty, a tiny diversion on the smooth highway to peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Taliban has been confident enough to suspend talks with the occupiers in recent months and to show that it can go on the offensive.

It does so against a background not of a stabilising situation but one which is unravelling for NATO. Protests at the burning of the Koran by US soldiers and at the murder of 17 Afghan civilians by a US staff sergeant have seen growing opposition to the occupation across wide sections of Afghan society.

One aspect of this has been the growing attacks on NATO forces by Afghan soldiers – the people who are supposed to be their allies and who they are training to replace them by 2014. One in five of all US soldiers killed this year have died at the hands of the Afghan security forces.

Events not going to plan? The plan is not worth the paper it’s written on. The surge was meant to weaken Taliban forces so that when they came to the negotiating table they would be more compliant. In fact it is the NATO forces who are on the defensive and NATO governments who are looking for a way out. The whole strategy is based on replacing occupying forces with Afghan forces. Few seriously believe that is working.

Meanwhile governments are beginning to bail out. The Australian prime minister has announced an earlier than planned withdrawal for Australian troops. The NATO summit in Chicago next month will demonstrate some of the tensions as recognition grows that this war is being lost.

Demonstrations on May 19 across the world can be a focus for building a renewed movement to get the troops out. It reflects large sections of public opinion who oppose the war. And it reflects the growing determination of the Afghans to run their own country.

Stop the War Coalition  


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