A tribute to the heroic struggle of the Afghan people
On 29th February, representatives of the US government and of the Taliban, one of the organisations of the Afghan people which have been fighting for nearly two decades against the US imperialist occupation of their land, signed an agreement at Doha in Qatar. According to this agreement, the US publicly committed to begin withdrawing its remaining troops in Afghanistan, and to complete the process in 14 months. They also agreed to a mutual ‘reduction in violence’ and to a prisoner exchange. The Taliban agreed to participate in an intra-Afghan dialogue to determine the future of Afghanistan.
The fact that the US imperialists have been brought to their knees 19 years after they invaded Afghanistan and brutally trampled on its sovereignty is a great tribute to the unyielding struggle waged by the Afghan people to recover their independence in the face of all odds. It is a resounding slap in the face of those who hurled a mighty military machine against a much smaller country and its people, without caring for the widespread misery and destruction which they wrought.
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan over the course of 19 years constitutes the longest war ever waged by the US. It was launched using the excuse that those who masterminded the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York were hiding in Afghanistan. However, it was part of a larger plan by the US imperialists to strengthen their hegemony over the strategic and resource-rich region of Central Asia in the period after the Cold War ended. Aided by a coalition of imperialist allies including Britain and other NATO countries, the US bombed Afghanistan to smithereens, overthrew the then government of the Taliban, and installed their puppet regimes in its place. The occupation was one of the most brutal in the history of mankind, with lakhs of men, women and children killed, maimed and tortured, and millions forced to flee the country.
From the very start of the occupation, the people of Afghanistan never capitulated, and fought back with great courage. The imperialist invaders were unable to root out the resistance fighters who had the support of masses of people. They had to throw in more and more troops into this country of 37 million people, till the number peaked at about 100,000. For the last few years, it has been clear that the imperialists had lost the war in Afghanistan. Less than 40 percent of the country was controlled by the puppet regimes and their forces, despite the huge foreign military backing.
In recent years, successive US governments have been trying to stage an exit from the battlefield in a way that would minimise their losses and the damage to their reputation. The agreement signed at Doha on February 29 actually represents a rout of US imperialism by the people of Afghanistan.
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was a key step in the unfolding of the US imperialists’ notorious global ‘war on terror’. Following the invasion of Afghanistan, the imperialists and their allies have invaded Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and mounted tremendous pressure on Iran. This campaign has labelled all Muslim countries, peoples and organisations that do not align with US imperialism’s geopolitical objectives as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’ who have to be crushed. A huge propaganda offensive has portrayed them as most backward elements who are enemies of peace and human progress. Using the logic of all colonisers, those who fought tooth and nail against the US occupation of Afghanistan have been presented as monsters, while the alien occupiers have been presented as those bringing order and civilization and progress to the Afghan people.
In the wake of the signing of the Doha agreement, there are many voices in the capitalist media and political pundits around the globe who are lamenting that the US pull out will only lead to further instability and infighting in Afghanistan. This too represents a colonial mindset which argues that only the alien occupiers can ensure peace and stability in occupied countries, and that their departure would mean that those countries would descend into chaos. The same thing was said when the British colonialists were forced to leave India by the Indian people’s struggle for liberation. We should contemptuously reject such dire predictions which are only a thin justification for continued imperialist presence in the region.
At the same time, for the people of Afghanistan the struggle is not over and they need to be vigilant against the many dangers ahead. Firstly, the signing of this agreement is not a guarantee that the US imperialists will not try to recover or retain some of their hold in Afghanistan and the region by various means. US imperialism is the most rapacious force in human history, and having troops on the ground is only one way in which they try to impose their domination on peoples all over the globe.
Secondly, states other than the US, including the Indian state, are also maneuvering to promote their respective imperialist interests in Afghanistan. Moreover, in the course of their occupation of Afghanistan, the imperialists have sown the seeds of great division within Afghan society. They have groomed a set of collaborators, and sown distrust among rival factions through their intrigue.
It is up to the wisdom of the people of Afghanistan to deal with the aftermath of this most brutal, bloody and prolonged occupation, in a manner that can defend their hard-won freedom against all forms of foreign interference. Only the empowerment of the Afghan people can set this proud country on the path of peace and prosperity.