SAS war crimes in Afghanistan exposed

An edition of the BBC documentary Panorama, titled SAS Death Squads Exposed: A British War Crime? has uncovered war crimes carried out by the SAS against unarmed civilians during the war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021. The documentary investigated several cases where unarmed civilians were executed during raids by the SAS, as well as the special forces of other countries in the coalition that were sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.


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Afghanistan: imperialist troops out

US troops manage the evacuation of Afghan civilians at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul.

On 30 August, the last plane carrying US personnel departed from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, ending the largest airlift operation in history – 123,000 people evacuated in just 17 days. Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, announced ‘the completion of our mission in Afghanistan’ after 20 years of occupation. British troops and personnel have been forced to withdraw alongside those of other NATO states, incapable of fielding a military force in Afghanistan independently of the US. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan has ended in a US rout; imperialism has left the country in a state of corruption, dependency and underdevelopment. It is a stark expression of the US’s relative decline as the world’s dominant imperialist power. Afghanistan will now enter the sphere of China’s influence. WILL HARNEY reports.


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Afghanistan: imperialism wounded

US Army soldiers guarding the tarmac at Kabul Airport as crowds attempt to evacuate. (Photo: public domain).

Former President Ashraf Ghani’s flight from Kabul on 15 August and the Taliban’s occupation of the city is a blow to the prestige of US imperialism and potentially to its geo-strategic position in the world. NATO’s occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 coincided with the ascendancy of US imperialism to the status of the world’s sole super-power. The waning of US hegemony, demonstrated in Afghanistan, can trigger flashpoints almost anywhere, but particularly in the Middle East and Latin America: new conflicts are imminent.


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Afghanistan: the Union flag is lowered

On 26 October the Union flag was lowered over Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. 453 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 615 have been seriously or very seriously wounded and 2,187 wounded in action. The US military death toll stands at 2,349 soldiers. The war has cost British governments about £40bn. The number of Afghan civilians killed in the first half of 2014 was almost 5,000 people, a rise of 25% on 2013 levels. We were told that British forces were leaving Afghanistan after 13 years, and that the US combat mission would end on 31 December 2014, but things are not like that at all.


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US to stay in Afghanistan

US forces will continue to occupy Afghanistan until at least the end of 2016. In June, President Obama announced that around 9,800 troops will remain after the end of this year when combat forces are supposed to be withdrawn. That number is intended to be halved by the end of 2015. In an agreement with the Afghan government, the US will retain without trial around 50 prisoners at Bagram air base and be able to incarcerate anyone else they regard as ‘enduring security threats’.


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Afghanistan elections offer little change

Predictably, the April presidential elections in Afghanistan were hailed as a successful display of democracy by the imperialists and the Afghan government. In reality, there were over 900 serious complaints of corruption to the Independent Complaints Commission; even more than in the 2009 election, when at least a quarter of the votes were considered fraudulent. Over half the present complaints are about the Electoral Commission itself, which was meant to ensure a ‘free and fair’ election. Initial results suggest just 6.6 million people voted out of an estimated electorate (there are no precise figures) of 12 million. In six provinces fewer than 10,000 people voted. Mohamed Younas, an unemployed young man in Kabul, told ABC News that he didn’t vote because ‘All our candidates’ hands are dirty with the blood of the people’. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan: ‘mission accomplished’?

Among Prime Minister David Cameron’s most crass utterances must be his December declaration that the British campaign in Afghanistan was ‘mission accomplished’ – the same ill-fated phrase used by President Bush after the invasion of Iraq! Even the most deluded apologist for imperialism would concede that the Taliban are poised to re-take large parts of the country; that Al Qaeda (never a significant presence in Afghanistan) is now expanding exponentially in parts of the Middle East and Africa and that Afghanistan is governed by a non-democratic bunch of gangsters. Labour Defence Secretary John Reid launched Britain’s present phase of the invasion, hoping ‘not a shot would be fired in anger’. Some 26 million rounds of ammunition later 447 British service personnel have been killed, together with over 3,000 from other occupying forces and tens of thousands of the Afghan people. Almost three-quarters of the Afghan people have no access to safe water, half of them do not have enough to eat and, of those children that survive to the age of five, 60% suffer from malnourishment. Meanwhile, according to one estimate, 90% of development aid is siphoned off by the rich elite, putting Afghanistan equal top of Transparency International’s league of corruption. As for Britain’s campaign to eradicate opium production, poppy harvests have reached record levels.


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British atrocities in Afghanistan

In November 2013, a British marine, known only as Sergeant A, was found guilty of murder by a military tribunal. Together with two other marines, he had been charged with shooting an injured Taliban fighter in September 2011. The three marines dragged the badly wounded fighter out of sight of an observation balloon, scoffed at any idea of administering first aid and killed the fighter with a shot to the stomach. Sergeant A said, ‘There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t have done to us. Obviously, this don’t go anywhere fellas. I’ve just broken the Geneva Convention.’ Marine B said ‘Yep, rog: if it ever comes to light, it’ll have been a warning shot.’


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Imperialist shambles in Afghanistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 235 October/November 2013

Henry Kissinger recently described President Obama’s exit strategy in Afghanistan as ‘all exit and no strategy’. Although wrong (the US still hopes to retain a military presence after the 2014 ‘exit’), Kissinger’s quip reveals something of the shambles into which US and British plans have fallen.

In September, the Pakistani government announced that it was releasing Mullah Abdul Baradar, second-in-command of the Afghan Taliban, as a means of promoting peace talks. Earlier it had released seven other Taliban prisoners. The move indicates the extent to which Pakistan retains the initiative in reaching a settlement in the war on Afghanistan despite all the threats, bribes and promises thrown at it by the Obama administration. Baradar was captured in a joint US/Pakistan special forces operation a couple of years ago but Pakistan refused to hand him over to the US. If Baradar is (or has been) released he will not be transferred to Afghan custody but allowed to return to Taliban bases on the Afghan border where, no doubt, the Pakistani intelligence service will retain close contact. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also suggested to Afghanistan’s President Karzai that the Taliban should open a new office for talks in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. The Taliban closed its office in Qatar following the summer fiasco when the US abandoned planned talks there following objections from President Karzai. Although it is said that Obama can hardly bear talking to Karzai, the US obviously believes a corrupt stooge who occasionally rattles his cage is more important to them than a peace settlement. This is despite the fact that the Taliban still adamantly refuse to talk to Karzai and that, even if he survives beyond the withdrawal of US troops in 2014, Karzai and his loathed cronies are likely to be quickly overthrown, if not by the anti-occupation forces then by rival crooks and warlords.


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Afghanistan Karzai scuppers peace talks

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 234 August/September 2013

The US and its imperialist allies know they have lost their war on Afghanistan. At a time of economic crisis and with other conflicts looming, they are desperate to extricate themselves as soon as possible. Yet they cannot be seen to be defeated or to give way entirely in a region that is strategically crucial to their global domination. Their hope is to achieve a settlement before the bulk of occupying forces leave in 2014 and, if possible, retain a sizeable military and diplomatic presence to police the outcome after that. Consequently, the first official talks between the US and the Taliban (unofficial contacts had been maintained for several years) were scheduled to start on 20 June; just two days after the occupying forces had ostensibly handed responsibility for combat operations to the Afghan national security forces (ANSF). The ‘evil enemy’ were to become ‘partners in peace’, just as FRFI predicted many years ago. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan: Anti-occupation forces launch spring offensive

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 233 June/July 2013

Despite all the attempts by US and British government propaganda to have us believe that their troops are winning the battle in Afghanistan, Brigadier Bob Bruce, commander of the British task force in Helmand, admitted in March that: ‘We know for a fact there is no military solution to the insurgency; there is no way the military is going to win a counter-insurgency [war] because it is essentially a political issue. It is a matter of offers: the offer the government makes to the people and the offer the insurgents make to the people.’


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Imperialists struggle to avoid defeat in Afghanistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 231 February-March 2013

Visiting Afghanistan before Christmas, British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed ‘The Afghan army is doing better than we expected, and that is why we are able to bring home so many troops.’ Despite his confidence, there was a security news blackout on his trip to Camp Bastion, where a few months earlier members of the anti-occupation forces had killed two US marines and set fire to Harrier jets. Days before Cameron’s visit, the government announced that some British troops will withdraw from Afghanistan earlier than previously planned. Around 4,000 will return home by October this year, leaving about 5,000, who are due to return before the end of 2014. British military ‘trainers’ and special forces will remain after this date. Clearly, there has been disagreement between the government and the military over the withdrawal. With the war costing £4bn a year at a time of financial crisis, Cameron and the Treasury wanted an even faster withdrawal. But only six months ago the military wanted to ‘hold on to everything for as long as we can’. The decisive factor was the number of British troops being killed by the very Afghan forces that Cameron was praising. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan: murder and mayhem

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

The 11 November 2012 BBC coverage of the Remembrance Day ceremony held in Whitehall, London included a list of names of those British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 11 November 2011. There were 52 names, an average of one soldier killed each week for a year. On that day another British soldier was killed by a member of the Afghan National Army during a game of football, bringing the total British dead in 11 years of war in Afghanistan to 438. The British rate of deaths as a proportion of troops deployed in Afghanistan is almost four times that of its US counterparts. No mention was given in the broadcast of Afghan deaths in these 11 years; the number of civilians killed is estimated to be between 12,500 and 20,000. No estimate was given for Taliban dead. These deaths result primarily from the US and British ruling classes’ determination to remain global powers, and in Afghanistan they are failing.


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Afghanistan and Pakistan – drones and the new doctrines of war

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

When US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011, the Pakistan government closed US/NATO supply routes into southern Afghanistan, demanding an apology for the massacre and an end to drone raids. The attacks continued relentlessly. In two weeks alone around the beginning of June 2012, eight drone strikes killed at least 56 people. More than 3,000 people have been killed by drones in Pakistan, including at least 175 children. Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Zamir Akram, called for international action to halt the raids. China and Russia condemned the attacks at the UN Human Rights Council. On 4 July, after intense pressure from the US, the Pakistan government re-opened the supply routes. Just two days later, up to 24 people were killed in another US attack on Pakistan. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan agreement – death squads to continue

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

The Enduring Strategic Partnership (ESP) agreement between the US and Afghanistan was signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai in May. In the days that followed, dozens of Afghan civilians were killed by US air strikes. In the Fatih Mohammed Pech area of Sangin, a mother and her five children were killed when their home was bombed. In Nawboor village in Baghdis province, US helicopters killed 15 civilians, including children. There were more casualties in Logar and Kapisa provinces east of Kabul. President Karzai, compelled to token protest, exclaimed: ‘If the lives of Afghans are not safe then the strategic partnership loses its meaning.’ JIM CRAVEN reports.

The ESP agreement had been paraded as an important stage in the hand-over of security responsibility to Afghan national forces and the end of US night-time raids. In fact, it was neither. Aiming to kill or capture anti-occupation fighters, night raids by US/NATO special forces terrorise the local population, destroying homes and killing civilians. Contrary to international law, entire villages are held for questioning for prolonged periods and thousands of people have been detained without charge.


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Afghanistan: more imperialist atrocities

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012

On 11 March, 16 Afghan civilians were massacred in a pre-planned attack by a US sergeant. Two families, including nine children, were shot in their own homes and the bodies set on fire by the gunman before he calmly returned to base. In recent months, in addition to the ongoing slaughter of civilians and the torture of prisoners, we have seen evidence of the mutilation of Afghan corpses by US soldiers to take body parts as ‘trophies’, US marines urinating on their victims and taking videos of their celebration and the sporting of Nazi SS banners by a US sniper unit. Such behaviour is not exceptional. It is the norm for every colonialist war, where the inherent racism of imperialism leads the invading troops to consider the local population as inferior, even less than human, beings and where the contradiction between their assumed invincibility and the reality on the ground results in pathological acts of revenge. JIM CRAVEN reports.

British troops are currently on trial for abusing Afghan children. In 2011 a hungover British soldier stabbed a ten-year old in the kidneys for no reason. US Wikileaks records 21 separate incidents when British soldiers shot dead or bombed Afghan civilians.


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Afghanistan – failing imperialists try to divide opposition

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

Despite escalating brutality from night time raids by special forces, drone attacks and assaults by helicopter gunships, US/NATO forces are failing to blunt anti-occupation forces in Afghanistan and to force the Pakistan military to take action against their bases over the border.

Security incidents reached record levels in 2011, up 39% on the previous year, to a monthly average of 2,108. The Institute for Strategic Studies said that the fighting had spread to the east of the country while occupation forces were concentrating on the south and that plans for a major withdrawal of US troops by 2014 were not on track. A secret report by the US military called for an extra 2,000 US and British troops to be sent. ISAF commander General John Allen said a fast pull-out would create difficulties holding ground won from the insurgents. He pointed out that, even with accelerated training, Afghan security forces would not be ready to take over by 2014. US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker admitted that the 2014 deadline may not be met and that the US would not ‘walk away’ from Afghanistan. He said a joint security pact in the early stages of negotiation would ‘lay out the framework for strategic partnership well beyond 2014 on a wide range of areas – the economy, education as well as security’ and that ‘major weapons systems’ would be delivered after 2014. The British government, in the mire of the capitalist economic crisis, is keen to end British military involvement as soon as possible. In December, the National Security Council met to discuss a pull-out and some ministers argued for the withdrawal of half of Britain’s 9,500 troops by mid-2013.


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War in Afghanistan threatens whole region

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224 December 2011/January 2012

It is ten years since imperialist forces invaded Afghanistan. As they struggle to extricate themselves from the jaws of defeat, they threaten to engulf the whole region in war. In September, Admiral Mike Mullen, former chair of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, threatened unilateral action in Pakistan, implying attacks on intelligence and military bases. Pakistan’s General Athar Abbas warned such action would have ‘grave consequences’. Reports suggested some Pakistanis were preparing for war with the US. JIM CRAVEN reports.

On 26 November, the Pakistan government condemned as ‘unprovoked and indiscriminate’ a NATO helicopter attack on a Pakistan border checkpoint that killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistan government closed the border crossing for NATO supplies into Afghanistan in protest.


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Afghanistan: Taliban strike at will

FRFI 223 October/November 2011

The assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul on 20 September underlined the failings of US and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strategy in Afghanistan. Rabbani, who led the Mujahideen against Soviet Union forces in the 1970s, was being used by the puppet Afghan government to seek reconciliation with sections of the Taliban. A faction of the Taliban is thought to have killed him. The US says that it intends to transfer security to the Afghan forces by 2014. In order to do that it must either substantially weaken the Taliban or draw them into a political agreement with the government.

There have been 26 major Taliban attacks on Kabul since 2008. In June this year the Intercontinental Hotel, favourite conference venue for westerners, was attacked. In August the British Consulate was targeted. On 13 September the US embassy and ISAF were attacked in an operation lasting 24 hours. This could not have been mounted without the infiltration of Afghanistan government forces. The Taliban are showing that they can strike where and when they want.


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Afghanistan: problems mount for imperialists

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011

In June President Obama announced that 5,000 US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan this summer and another 5,000 by the end of the year. A further 23,000 troops are expected to return home by September 2012. Obama clearly had his re-election in mind, aware that 65% of people in the US believe the war is no longer worth fighting. However, even this modest withdrawal was opposed by the US military and many in Obama’s administration. They believe the anti-occupation fighters will only negotiate a peace settlement when they have been severely weakened. Around 65,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2012 – twice the number when Obama took office – together with 100,000 Pentagon paid mercenaries. Britain is to withdraw an even smaller proportion of its 12,500 troops, just 500 by the end of 2012, and France will withdraw 1,000. Jim Craven reports.

The strategy of US commander General Petraeus has been to massively increase air strikes, death squads and night-time raids using special forces. These have resulted in rising numbers of civilians being killed, injured or detained without trial. According to the UN 961 civilians were killed or injured in May, the highest total since records began four years ago. General Petraeus (soon to become CIA director) has planned for two more fighting seasons. The Afghan people are set to suffer another bloody 18 months.


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Afghanistan - Imperialist strategy failing

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

Afghanistan - Imperialist strategy failing

Government propaganda would have us believe that the US surge is turning the tide against anti-occupation fighters in Afghanistan. In reality, problems continue to mount for the imperialists and sections of their ruling classes no longer believe the strategy will bring about the political settlement they were promised. Faheen Haider of the US Foreign Policy Association reported, ‘The situation on the ground in Afghanistan is far worse than we have been led to believe; indeed, the situation is far worse than even our worst assessments for the coming three years might suggest.’ The British Foreign Affairs Select Committee recently stated, ‘We question the fundamental assumption that success in Afghanistan can be “bought” through a strategy of “clear, hold and build”. We question the Government’s logic that a full-scale counter-insurgency campaign against the Taliban is necessary to prevent Al Qaida returning or that it could ever succeed.’ The report also emphasised that the rise in civilian casualties since the start of the surge has caused ‘heightened instability and suspicion’. JIM CRAVEN reports.

The imperialists’ justification for the war – that it is necessary to prevent the Taliban sponsoring Al Qaida and terrorist attacks on the West – has been further discredited by a report from the Centre on International Co-operation at New York University. It says that Mullah Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, opposed Bin Laden’s plotting against the US and that it was Pakistan that encouraged the Taliban not to give in to US pressure regarding Bin Laden because Pakistan hoped resistance to the US invasion would continue. In November 2002 the Taliban offered reconciliation with the new Afghan government and to join the political process, but were dismissed by Karzai and the US because they considered the Taliban a spent force. Wakil Muttawakil, the Taliban intermediary, was arrested and imprisoned. Taliban representatives nevertheless continued trying to open talks and went to Kabul in 2003 and 2004. The report also confirmed, as previously reported in FRFI, that in 2009 the Taliban leadership stated, ‘[We have] no agenda of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and are ready to give legal guarantees if foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan.’


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Afghanistan: imperialists raise level of violence in advance of talks

FRFI 218 December 2010/January 2011

NATO forces can neither win in Afghanistan nor can they leave, if imperialism is not to receive a serious blow. British Prime Minister Cameron repeated at November’s NATO conference in Lisbon that British combat troops would be out of Afghanistan in 2015. However, the US government said that US troops would remain until Afghan government forces take the lead. That is precisely their problem: Afghanistan’s political leadership under the Karzai government and its military and police forces are unable to take over.

Throughout the autumn, over 8,000 US and Afghan national troops attempted to clear anti-occupation fighters from districts around Kandahar. Operations by US/NATO special forces to assassinate Taliban leaders were intensified. The imperialists know they cannot win the war, but they hope to strengthen their bargaining position before entering peace talks; they have to find elements in the Taliban they can deal with.


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Afghanistan: imperialists losing the war

FRFI 217 October/November 2010

With the arrival in August of the final contingent of Obama’s ‘surge’, the number of imperialist troops in Afghanistan rose to over 140,000. They are supported by more than 200,000 members of the Afghan national police and army against an estimated 28,000 anti-occupation fighters. But the imperialists are losing the war. JIM CRAVEN reports.

July was the deadliest month so far for US troops in Afghanistan, with 66 soldiers killed. Almost 200 members of the occupying forces were killed during June and July. These included 38 British soldiers. The number of seriously injured soldiers losing limbs in the first six months of 2010 was five times that for the corresponding period of 2009.


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Afghanistan: Imperialists divided

FRFI 216 August/September 2010

The imperialists’ strategy in Afghanistan is in chaos. On 21 July British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the House of Commons: ‘Let me be absolutely clear that we will see our troops withdrawn from Afghanistan from a combat role by 2015.’ On the same day, in the US, Prime Minister Cameron said that Britain could begin to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan from July 2011, but only on condition that Afghan forces take the lead in security operations. The day before, speaking after a conference of foreign secretaries in Kabul, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed the conference a ‘turning point’, and, while endorsing Afghan President Karzai’s proposal that from 2014 Afghan forces take responsibility for security, suggested that US troops might stay in the country for decades.  The divisions within and between the different ruling classes of the occupying powers result from their failure to subdue the anti-occupation forces, and the realisation that they face defeat in Afghanistan. JIM CRAVEN and TREVOR RAYNE report.

This summer is the deadliest period since the 2001 invasion for US/NATO troops, with 102 killed in June and rising numbers of casualties in July. Twenty British soldiers were killed in June and 15 killed in the first three weeks of July. The rate of occupation forces’ deaths in the first six months of 2010 is twice that for the same period in 2009. Significantly, the proportion killed by small arms fire has tripled since last year, indicating that the anti-occupation forces are strong enough to operate at close range and find protection among the local population. US intelligence estimates that 75% of anti-occupation fighters operate within five miles of their home village. A US Department of Defence survey of 121 priority districts found 50 actively support or are sympathetic to the anti-occupation fighters, compared with just 28 sympathetic to the Afghan government. The US Government Accountability Office says that the Taliban has set up a ‘widespread paramilitary shadow government... in a majority of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.’ The plan to hand over security to the Afghan government is implausible.


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Afghanistan – Obama’s surge threatens Kandahar

FRFI 215 June/July 2010

An Afghan businessman described the imminent attack by imperialist forces on Kandahar city – ‘The storm is coming. I try telling people. You have two options: get out now, or climb down into your bunker and hope that the storm will pass and that you’re still alive six months from now.’ 12,000 US, British and Canadian troops, together with 10,000 members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) have moved to isolate the city and surrounding area. Operation Hamkari is planned to begin in June and continue until at least the beginning of Ramadhan in August. JIM CRAVEN reports.

When General McChrystal took command of the occupying forces last year, he claimed his priority was to gain the trust of the Afghan people and prevent civilian casualties, admitting later ‘We’ve shot an amazing number of people [who did not pose a threat]’. The use of such overwhelming force in Kandahar, as with the attack on Marjah in February, however, is intended to intimidate the local population and prevent them from supporting the anti-occupation forces. In Marjah, 26,000 people had to flee their homes. In the densely populated streets of Kandahar the fighting will claim many more victims. McChrystal’s true priority is not concern for the Afghan people but dead and captured Taliban fighters and apparent (though bogus) military victories with which to persuade public and political opinion back home that US forces should stay in Afghanistan.


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Afghanistan – new imperialist onslaught

FRFI 214 April / May 2010

In February, when the occupying forces launched their latest onslaught in Afghanistan, US commander General McChrystal claimed that his priority was to avoid civilian casualties. Within two days of the start of Operation Moshtarak, 12 civilians (including six children) were killed by NATO missiles in the Nad-e-ali district. A week later, 27 civilians were killed when their minibuses were hit by an airstrike in Uruzgan. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan war unwinnable

FRFI 212 December 2009 / January 2010

The successes of the anti-occupation forces in Afghanistan and concern at the rise in casualties among the occupying forces are creating divisions within the ruling classes of the imperialist countries. Pressure to bring the troops home is being held in check only by a massive public relations campaign to ‘support our heroes’, which in Britain reached almost hysterical proportions around Remembrance Day. Polls indicate that 58% of US people are opposed to the war. Two-thirds of people in Britain believe the war is ‘unwinnable’ and 35% want an immediate withdrawal. Despite these conditions, the anti-war movements in both countries remain hopelessly weak because their organisers refuse to break with the governing parties that defend their privileged lifestyles. JIM CRAVEN reports.


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Afghanistan: Imperialist propaganda cannot mask paralysis

FRFI 211 October / November 2009

The imperialists intended the 20 August presidential elections to give a cloak of legitimacy to the Afghan government and their forces’ occupation of the country, but the outcome has further undermined the credibility of both. Ballots from over 600 polling stations have been quarantined and there are 720 major charges of electoral fraud. President Karzai is exposed as a cheat. In September US General Stanley McChrystal’s report to the Pentagon on the situation in Afghanistan was leaked; it describes a failing military endeavour, a corrupt government without popular support and time running out fast for the invaders. Despite deploying extra troops and launching intensive campaigns over the summer, the occupying forces have been fought to a standstill. On 21 September the 217th British soldier was killed in Afghanistan since 2001; more than in the Iraq war. In August 77 NATO troops were killed, and by 21 September a further 55 were dead. Many more Afghan people were killed. The US and British states are on the road to disaster in Afghanistan.  Jim Craven and Trevor Rayne report.


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Fighting thin air

FRFI 167 June / July 2002

Britain’s contribution to the ‘war on terrorism’ looked a sorry picture by mid-May. The Royal Marine commandos sallied forth only to find no one there. An arms cache had been located and destroyed, but it belonged to an ally and not an enemy. Eventually al-Qaida forces were located, attacked and killed but they turned to out to be celebrants at a wedding party. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon pronounced ‘every confidence’ in the officer in charge of British forces in Afghanistan. A day later Brigadier Roger Lane was being returned to a posting ‘at headquarters’. Behind this farce the tragedy of Afghan people continues and the undertow of menace threatens the world. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

Between October 2001 and April 2002 the US military claim to have dropped 22,000 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan, averaging over 100 a day. The number of civilians killed by the US and allied intervention is put by aid organisations at up to 8,000 killed directly by explosives and over 20,000 killed indirectly by disease, starvation and cold accompanying displacement from their homes. By mid-May 37 US military personnel had been killed in or around Afghanistan. British casualties in ‘peacekeeping missions’, including Afghanistan, under the Labour government since 1997 have reached approximately 60 dead.


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Imperialism out of Afghanistan

FRFI 164 December 2001 / January 2002

The US and British governments say they do not know when this war will end or where it will end. The retaliatory attack was launched by the US and Britain on 7 October. After one month 7,000 bombs and missiles had been dropped on Afghanistan. Reports from Pakistan said 1,500-2,000 civilians had been killed by the bombardment. Four US airmen were killed in accidents. Two million people, trapped in the central highlands, faced starvation. 115,000 Afghan refugees had been added to those previously displaced. On 9 November Northern Alliance forces took Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taliban and on 13 November they entered Kabul. Captives were killed, between 500 and 600 were massacred in Mazar. Britain and the US share responsibility for this war crime, as TREVOR RAYNE shows.

Since 1979, when the US and Britain backed the counter-revolutionary war against the Afghan government, 2.5 million Afghans, 10% of the population, have been killed. 6.3 million Afghans, 30% of the people, are refugees. The Taliban and the Northern Alliance have served imperialism in this destruction.


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War in Afghanistan Deeper into the mire

‘Mr President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say ... no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops ... depending on the breaks.’
General Turgidson, Dr Strangelove

The clamour for more helicopters and equipment for British forces in Afghanistan and the tears and pomp for British war dead will not reduce the rising number of Afghani and British casualties in an immoral, imperialist war. Thousands of Afghani civilians have lost their lives. More weapons will sink British forces deeper into the mire. The grief of dead soldiers’ families is exploited by the government to rally public support for the war. British imperialist forces are employed to kill and, if necessary, to be killed. ANDREW ALEXANDER reports on a war that has cost Britain over £4.5bn to date and has implications for an entire region.


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