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Year 2001 No. 217, December 19, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Britain to lead "International Security Assistance Force" in Afghanistan

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Britain to lead "International Security Assistance Force" in Afghanistan

SWT Workers to Stage 48-hour Strikes

NEC to Make 1,260 Workers Redundant in Scotland

Communiqué of FARC-EP

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Britain to lead "International Security Assistance Force" in Afghanistan

The Minister of Defence, Geoff Hoon, made a statement to Parliament yesterday announcing that some 1,500 British troops will take the lead role in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to be deployed in Afghanistan. This multination force will be commanded by a British officer and include troops from the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines and the Air Assault Brigade. According to Geoff Hoon’s statement, British forces will only remain in a leadership role Afghanistan for three months to "assist the Afghan people in this early and difficult period of the reconstruction of their country". In particular they are to assist "with the provision of security and stability" for Kabul and the surrounding area. However, the statement does not rule out the possibility of British troops remaining in Afghanistan for a much longer period and states that their role will also include advising the Afghan Interim Authority and providing training for the new Afghan security forces.

The British government is attempting to justify this further military intervention in Afghanistan by reference to the provisions of the Bonn Agreement on the future Governance of Afghanistan, the agreement reached under the auspices of the UN that ushered in the Afghan Interim Authority headed by Hamid Karzai. However, it is clear that the nature and leadership of this military force was decided by the big powers themselves and chiefly by the US, according to their own military and strategic interests, without any debate or discussion in the UN General Assembly. In this regard, Geoff Hoon also announced that the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, would be writing to the Secretary-General of the UN to inform him of the British government’s decision. The UN Security Council resolution authorising the deployment of the ISAF has not yet even been passed. Indeed the deployment, remit and size of the ISAF has not yet been agreed with the Afghan Interim Authority which does not even assume office until December 22.

Several other countries are also expected to take part in the force. Already 21 countries have expressed an interest but it seems likely then many of the troops will come from NATO countries. France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy have all offered to contribute significant contingents of troops, and so too have Canada, Australia and other countries including the Czech Republic, Jordan, Malaysia and Turkey.

The British government is making every effort to present the ISAF as a peacekeeping force that will be welcomed by the people of Afghanistan, almost as if it were carrying out some humanitarian mission. But the fact is that it is part and parcel of the Anglo-US aggression against Afghanistan and has no legitimacy. The aggressors cannot now pose as the peacekeepers. The ISAF is being established and imposed on the people of Afghanistan as part of the Anglo-American "New World Order", with the intention of further strengthening the military and strategic interests of the big powers in Central Asia in general and in Afghanistan in particular, where it is becoming clearer that there is growing opposition to foreign occupation of the country. Increasingly Britain and the other big powers are resorting to armed intervention and military occupation of various regions in the world. This contention for strategic position, spheres of influence and control of markets and resources may be carried out under the guise of peacekeeping, the "war against terrorism" or "humanitarianism", but it actually creates great dangers for the peoples of Britain and the world and brings the possibility of larger military conflicts ever closer.

In these circumstances the British working class and people must raise their voices and demand not just that British troops get out of Afghanistan but that there be no British troops on foreign soil.

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SWT Workers to Stage 48-hour Strikes

Workers of South West Trains, serving some of the busiest rail routes in and out of London, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of staging two 48-hour strikes, it was revealed yesterday.

The two 48-hour "back to back" stoppages are on January 3 and 4 and again on January 7 and 8.

The declaration was to have made on Monday but was delayed. This meant that the union, which is required by law to give seven days notice of industrial action, could not hold the first strike on Christmas Eve, as was first suggested.

The union's acting general secretary Vernon Hince said his members were incensed at the way they had been treated by the train operator.

The union has rejected a 3.8% pay offer after complaining that train drivers have been given a better deal.

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NEC to Make 1,260 Workers Redundant in Scotland

Japan's second-largest chip maker says it will halt chip production at its plant in West Lothian by April 2002 as demand for mobile handsets and other electronics products in Europe shrinks. The company also said on Tuesday it that would make 1,260 workers redundant at the plant, which manufactures system chips for mobile phones, DRAM (dynamic random access memory) and other semiconductors. NEC said the plant might reopen if demand for semiconductors picks up but it gave no specific timing. The move came during a rigorous "restructuring" of the company to cut costs by 14 percent year-on-year during the business year to next March.

Many Japanese chip conglomerates have been "restructuring" their semiconductor operations. On Tuesday, Toshiba Corp became the last of Japan's big chipmakers to eliminate making commodity DRAMs computer memory chips.

Once again, such news emphasises both the necessity for a self-reliant economy, and one based on planning for the people's needs. It exposes the illusory benefits in the long-term of the so-called free-market economy, based on the search for the maximum capitalist profit, with its attendant anarchy and over-production, and the policy of "inward investment" as a solution to the crisis. These programmes have proved particularly disastrous in the fields associated with the "knowledge-based economy".

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Communiqué of FARC-EP

This important Communiqué, dated December 10, 20001, reads:

We have been informed by the press of the European Union Presidency’s statement announcing the suspension of the visas for the representatives of the Colombian guerrilla movement which they would require in the future.

Simultaneously we have become aware of paragraphs of the so-called "Anti-terrorist Law" agreed to among the Interior and Justice Ministers of the member countries of the European Union.

Both documents have a direct effect on the dialogue process going forward in Colombia.

The statement of the member countries of the European Union connected to the process through the Group of Friendly Countries and the Commission of Facilitators, is harmful to neutrality and changes the political position upheld until now with respect to the political solution of the social and armed conflict in our country.

The attempt to give extraterritorial character to the laws elaborated by the European Union is in violation of the sovereignty of the peoples, and is for the purpose of ingratiating themselves with the United States of America.

Under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism, they want to deny the sacred right of the peoples to rise up against corrupt and oppressive regimes.

The FARC-EP do not accept the attempt of the transnational corporations, using the states of the developed countries, to impose legislation on the peoples that ignores the dignity and sovereignty of the less developed countries like Colombia.

We call upon the peoples of Europe and their social and political organisations, the parliaments, democratic personalities, the anti-globalisation activists who have recently come forward and the revolutionaries to reject these kinds of measures that aim to go back from capitalism to colonialism.

Central General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, People’s Army FARC-EP

Mountains of Colombia

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