12 August 2021
By Miguel Lamas, an IWU-FI leader.
The US withdraws on the 20th anniversary of its invasion of Afghanistan. The US withdrawal leaves the country in shambles. There is a civil war, and the Taliban have already taken over several provincial capitals and continue to advance. President Biden blames Trump for agreeing with the Taliban to withdraw last year.
In February 2020, the Trump administration agreed with the Taliban (the Islamic religious-political movement leading the resistance) to withdraw its soldiers in May 2021. The current president, Joe Biden, extended the deadline to 11 September, although most troops have already left.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai criticised Washington for “the destruction of the Republic” and “legitimising” the Taliban by negotiating directly with them in peace talks.
Meanwhile, the defence secretary of Britain, the United States’ principal ally, called the US-Taliban deal “rotten” and said his country was in favour of keeping troops in Afghanistan but would not do so without the US.
Afghanistan shares borders with China, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Today, with 38 million people, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its major export is opium, of which it is the world’s largest producer, with 328,000 hectares under poppy cultivation (for opium and heroin).
The defeat of the United States and NATO
Twenty years later, and after the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations, which kept the invading troops in Afghanistan, the assessment could not be worse. The US and its NATO allies claim to have spent $1 trillion on maintaining a huge occupying army. They killed 2,500 US military personnel, “hired” 3,800 mercenaries and some 1,500 from other NATO countries.
Afghan casualties total over 200,000 between combatants and civilians. Entire villages were razed to the ground by the U.S. bombing. Two million seven hundred thousand had to migrate to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey or Europe, and another four million had to leave their homes and villages, becoming internal refugees.
Trump, when he made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops, said that it no longer made sense (for US interests) to continue spending money in Afghanistan. The US is withdrawing in defeat, with none of its imperialist objectives fulfilled, just as it had to leave Iraq.
Where is Afghanistan going?
The Taliban captured three more provincial capitals on Sunday.
This advance is obviously because of the US withdrawal. But there are large sections of the people who resist the Taliban because of their ultra-reactionary programme, foremost the extreme oppression of women. They want to ban women from studying and demand they wear the burka, according to their interpretation of Islam. Nor do they have an anti-imperialist programme of real national independence. And they are deepening their relations with Chinese imperialism.
After twenty years, the US and NATO invaders have left a devastated and divided country with millions of refugees. Another historical crime of imperialism.
It is the Afghan working people who deserve international solidarity to fight for their independence and rebuild their country without invaders and dictatorships.
Originally published in El Socialista 511 (Argentina, 2021)