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Year 2010 No. 2, February 8, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Conference on Afghanistan:

Britain Must End the Occupation and Bring the Troops Home

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Conference on Afghanistan:
Britain Must End the Occupation and Bring the Troops Home

British Troops Pave Way for Massive NATO Afghan Assault

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Conference on Afghanistan:

Britain Must End the Occupation and Bring the Troops Home

On 28 January, a major international conference on the future of Afghanistan was hosted by the government at Lancaster House in London. Participants included representatives from the US, NATO and the other forces occupying Afghanistan, led by the Anglo-American alliance, as well as the IMF, World Bank and the UN. Hamid Karzai, the head of the government of Afghanistan installed by the occupiers, was also a major participant. The UN, alarmed at the dire situation within Afghanistan, originally called the conference and it was planned that it would be held in Kabul. That it was eventually held in London speaks volumes about the actual situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

The aim of the conference, according to the opening remarks of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was to establish broad agreement on the necessary measures to begin the transition from occupation to the stage where the police and military forces of the government of Afghanistan can take responsibility for "security", for "tackling terrorism and extremism" instead of the occupation forces. This is what Gordon Brown refers to as "Afghanisation", not a genuinely independent Afghanistan but a proxy state. However, he was also forced to reiterate the view of Barack Obama that despite the current "surge", the occupiers are not yet even in sight of military victory and still have to "have to turn the tide in the fight against the insurgency and also in our work to support the Afghan Government in winning the trust of its people". Therefore the conference also announced strategies to encourage divisions amongst those resisting the occupation, including providing what were referred to as economic inducements.

According to the Prime Minster, the hand over to the Karzai administration will begin later this year. However, in order to effect this change, many of the occupying powers, led by Britain and the US have increased the numbers of military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan. British forces for instance have recently been increased by about 10,000 and US forces by over 30,000. At the same time, the strategy of "Afghanisation" also requires a massive increase in the army and police force of the Afghan government, to around 300,000 by the end of 2011, over twice the size of the occupying forces. Although this strategy is supposed to eventually allow a reduction in the troop levels of the occupying forces, Karzai himself stated that it could take up to 10 years to train the Afghan military and police and up to 15 years before Afghanistan would be able to finance them itself.

The conference pledged international support for the increase in the Afghanistan army and police force and for other measures to strengthen the capacity of the Karzai administration, to tie it to the big powers economically and to tackle the corruption that along with lack of power appear to be its main features. One of the main announcements that emerged from the conference was the so-called plan for "reconciliation and reintegration". Allegedly an attempt to "weaken the Taliban by dividing them", the policy was immediately reported by the mass media as simple bribery backed by an international fund of some $140 million, a charge which the government found it difficult to refute. It was also evident that direct talks with those referred to as the Taliban have already begun and are fully supported by the Anglo-American alliance.

The government also used the occasion of the conference as another attempt to present the invasion of Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 and allegedly undertaken to defend Britain from "terrorism" and backed by the UN. It was another attempt to justify the daily slaughter of the Afghan people which has now led to the deaths of over a hundred British troops. But it is clear that that the military strategy of the Anglo-Americans and their allies is in crisis, the administration of Karzai and the recent elections are totally discredited. The Anglo-Americans and their allies are facing growing international condemnation and are being forced to find ways to extricate from the crisis of their own making while establishing and bolstering a proxy state that can provide the justification for continued interference in this vital region.

Today it is the demand to end the occupation and bring British troops home immediately that has growing popular support. What is required is that the people take it upon themselves to establish an anti-war government that will end such aggression abroad and serve the interests of the people both at home and abroad.

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British Troops Pave Way for Massive NATO Afghan Assault

British troops have launched helicopter advances in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province to prepare the battlefield for a major NATO operation, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

The British operations were the first confirmation that small-scale military activity has already begun ahead of an expected massive assault on the town of Marjah, a warren of desert canals that US Marines say they intend to seize soon. That assault is expected to be one of the biggest of the eight-year-old war and a decisive test of US President Barack Obama's new strategy of dispatching 30,000 extra troops to turn the tide on the battlefield.

British and Afghan troops were carrying out "shaping operations" in Helmand's Nad Ali district as part of an initial phase of Operation Moshtarak, or "together", a large assault which will seize the entire district, the MoD said. Nad Ali includes Marjah, which the US Marines describe as the last major Taliban-held bastion in the centre of the province, Afghanistan's most violent region. The assault on Marjah will be the first operation to employ the new reinforcements sent by Obama at the end of last year.

A Taliban commander reached by satellite phone said guerrillas in the town will "stand and fight against foreign troops and their Afghan slaves". "We know they are preparing to attack the mujahideen in thousands, but we are not afraid. Let them come. They will meet the fate of others we have already sent to hell," said the commander, Qari Fazluddin, who said he was inside the town.

The US have made no secret of their plans for the assault on Marjah, in the hope that publicising it widely ahead of time will convince less-committed fighters to run away, and minimise fighting, it was reported. The tactic is said to be part of the counter-insurgency strategy of the US and NATO commander, General Stanley McChrystal, which emphasises securing population centres and avoiding combat in built-up areas whenever possible.

British troops have been conducting "shaping operations" for a few weeks in the district, and launched fresh helicopter and ground advances in the past 36 hours, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield said in a statement. "The operations which have been taking place in the British area of Nad Ali District over the last 36 hours have been part of that same series of 'shaping operations', all part of Op (operation) Moshtarak," he said. "They have been commanded jointly by Afghan and British commanders and have involved insertions by helicopter and ground of Afghan and British troops to locations to the west of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah."

Marjah sits near the dividing line between the northern part of the province, patrolled by a nearly 10,000-strong British-led NATO contingent, and the southern areas patrolled by the US Marines, who mainly arrived last year and now number some 15,000.

US commanders say the operation to seize Marjah will be backed by a larger Afghan contingent than ever before, in an effort to demonstrate the Afghan government's ability to take part in enforcing its own security.

(source: Reuters)

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