At the January 2002 State of the Union address, George Bush stated, “America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. We’ll be partners in rebuilding that country.” The impression conveyed through the address was that security and stability had been brought to Afghanistan. Bush reiterated on October 11th 2002, at an event highlighting US humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, “we want to be a continuing part of the new era of hope in Afghanistan.” In addition, he said, “we are helping the people to now recover from years of tyranny and oppression. We’re helping Afghanistan to claim its democratic future, and we’re helping that nation to establish public order and safety.”
"I prefer a person who will burn the flag and wrap themselves in the constitution, to a person who will burn the constitution and wrap themselves in the flag.”
Former US President Ronald Reagan had also vowed to support the Afghans. In his State of the Union Address of 1989 Reagan said, “So, too, in Afghanistan, the freedom fighters are the key to peace. We support the Mujahidin. There can be no settlement unless all Soviet troops are removed and the Afghan people are allowed genuine self-determination.” However, once Soviet forces were driven out of Afghanistan, US support to reconstruct war torn Afghanistan vanished, leaving the country in a state of internal turmoil and chaos.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on America, the Bush administration launched its so called ‘war on terror’. Afghanistan was attacked, resulting in the Taliban, being forced out of power. Many promises were made by Bush and his coterie of neo-conservatives. In December 2001, a US sponsored conference in Bonn resulted in the formation of an interim government headed by veteran CIA ‘asset’ Hamid Karzai. A month later, the international donor community gathered in Tokyo and pledged nearly $5 billion over five years to rebuild the country. A sum of $1.8 billion in foreign aid was promised to Afghanistan by the international community in 2002 but by September, only $600 million had been delivered.
The promises that were made gave the Afghan people the impression that the ‘bad’ old days of fighting, instability, poverty and destruction were about to be eradicated. However, these promises have turned out to be nothing more than hot air and the Muslims of Afghanistan face a future little better than their past.
Kabul is said to be bustling with new U.N. offices and international aid groups loaded with funds. This has given the impression to the international community that the rebuilding of Afghanistan is underway but deeper scrutiny will indicate otherwise. Most of the funds are being siphoned off by NGOs employing expensive consultants who are driven around in air conditioned cars. Although various nations pledged, at a January 2002 conference in Tokyo, $4.5 billion in aid over five years, most of that money has not been received. Even the pledges of the major powers will not be handed over to the Afghans, but distributed directly from Washington, Tokyo and Brussels, ensuring the Afghan government will be limited in what it can spend money on.
UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Lakhdar Brahimi was asked by Barry Bearak of the New York Times in April 2003 what he thought the biggest accomplishments of reconstruction were. He answered, “Probably not very much.” International humanitarian agency CARE has stated that projects worth just $192 million were completed in the 18 months after US-led forces ousted the Taliban regime. That constitutes “roughly 1 percent of Afghanistan’s reconstruction needs” according to one of its reports. In a recent request for an additional $78 billion from Congress, Bush’s administration set aside a paltry sum for Afghanistan.
Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani, said Afghanistan needed at least $15 billion (?9.2 billion) over the next five years; much more than the $4.5 billion (?2.7 billion) pledged last year. The new ‘free’ Afghanistan is beginning where pre-Taliban Afghanistan left off - as a patchwork of territories controlled by competing strong men. In the meantime, there is an almost total lack of infrastructure leading the population to suffer terribly, for example, from the lack of water, hospitals and roads.
The Mayor of Kabul
In Kabul, the Government under Hamid Karzai holds sway, but his rule extends only up to the city limits and even this is achieved largely due to the presence of the 5000 strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Karzai administration is practically non-existent outside Kabul; Hamid Karzai only dares trust American bodyguards with his life. Even within Kabul, ethnic rivalry is rife; the Interim Authority’s transport minister and then the subsequent government’s vice president were assassinated. Karzai is surrounded in key positions by the Tajik faction of the Northern Alliance such as Gen Fahim and Yunus Qanooni. Roads between cities are patrolled by armed groups who regularly extort money from farmers, traders and anyone not under the protection of a regional influential.
The USA sends its instructions for Afghanistan out of the mouth of Hamid Karzai, and he sees Afghanistan out of the window of armoured vehicles.
In Mazar-e-Sharif, Uzbek warlord and Deputy defence minister Abdul Rashid Dostum holds sway. Earlier in the year his troops engaged in bloody clashes with Tajik militia loyal to Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim. This rivalry in northern Afghanistan has led to a rise in attacks on humanitarian aid workers and Afghan civilians. This has threatened the delivery of urgently needed aid. Any taxes raised in the area go to pay Dostum’s troops. In the Western city of Herat, Ismail Khan exerts his control over five of the country’s provinces. His troops control the border with Iran and revenue from the customs tax on cross border trade flows into his hands and not to the central government. In the south, tribal-based militias compete for the patronage of the US military in order to establish their own domains.
It was only some months ago that the UN Security Council mandated the expansion of ISAF outside Kabul. However, so far no foreign government has sent its forces to any of the numerous troubled regions of Afghanistan, which is not surprising given the lack of security beyond the confinements of Kabul.
US forces strengthened the Uzbek-Tajik Northern Alliance after the September 11th attacks. Various other regional warlords were backed militarily and politically in the course of using them as proxy forces against the Taliban. At the same time the Pashtuns, who have historically held the balance of power in Afghanistan, perceive themselves to have become effectively disenfranchised.
Ismail Khan is one of several Afghan warlords that have been shot back into power by the USA, in order to prevent a capitalism-hostile government in Kabul.
How this was done is well documented despite most Afghan commanders denying receiving payoffs. The Americans gave each warlord tens of thousands of dollars in cash and truckloads of weapons. “We were reaching out to every commander that we could,” a CIA official told the Wall Street Journal during the war. Bribery was the name of the game to stop them fighting each other and fight the Taliban.
An article titled, ‘West pays warlords to stay in line’ in the Observer on July 21st 2002 makes clear that much of the current chaos is being perpetuated by the US policy of financing a network of regional warlords. An article in the Observer explained, “that ‘bin bags’ full of US dollars have been flown to Afghanistan, sometimes on RAF planes, to be given to key regional power brokers.”
Buying over the ‘hearts and minds’ of brutal warlords by the Americans through payoffs exacerbates the distrust and disunity in Afghanistan. The local population is further exposed to this rivalry with men being shot and looted and in some cases even women raped by opposing communities. To date, the warlords have dictated Afghan politics and they escalate the drug trade to finance and equip their militia while the US turns a blind eye.
Human Rights Watch in early November 2002 released a report on torture and repression in Afghanistan blaming the US and UN. The report mentions:
"When the United States-led coalition overthrew the Taliban in November 2001, Afghans were promised a new era of democracy and respect for human rights .… For many Afghans, the end of the Taliban’s uniquely oppressive rule was indeed a liberation. Yet almost one year later, the human rights situation in most of the country remains grim .… This has happened not simply because of the inherent difficulties of rebuilding an impoverished, devastated country, but because of choices the United States and other international actors have made, and failed to make?..In most parts of the country, security and local governance has been entrusted to regional military commanders - warlords - many of whom have human rights records rivalling the worst commanders under the Taliban .… American military forces have maintained relationships with local warlords that undercut efforts by US diplomats and aid agencies to strengthen central authority and the rule of law."
America’s Track Record
The United States has a long record of bombing nations post World War 2. It has left entire neighbourhoods and parts of cities in piles of rubble, wrecking the infrastructure and disrupting the lives of those who are not killed in the bombing. This has generally been followed by complete apathy towards repairing the damage.
Agent Orange victim Tran Minh An, born in 1995,
21 years after the end of the Vietnam war.
Taking Vietnam as an example, on 27 January 1973, the US signed the ‘Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam’. Article 21 of this stated: “In pursuance of its traditional policy, the United States will contribute to healing the wounds of war and to post-war reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam] and throughout Indochina.” Five days later, President Nixon sent a message to the Prime Minister of North Vietnam in which he stipulated the following two points:
"The Government of the United States of America will contribute to post-war reconstruction in North Vietnam without any political conditions."
"The United States contribution to post-war reconstruction will fall in the range of $3.25 billion of grant aid over 5 years."
However, despite the promises made, reconstruction aid never came but, bizarrely, Vietnam has in fact been compensating the United States. In 1997 it began to pay off about $145 million in debts left by the defeated South Vietnamese government for American food and infrastructure aid. In effect, the US is being paid back the cost of the war by its victims.
The ‘shock and awe’ tactics employed on Iraq have resulted in the destruction of power, water, sanitation systems and everything else that is required to run a state. The only part of Iraq the US has helped to rebuild since its occupation has been the infrastructure related to the oil fields. Electricity blackouts, food shortages, civil disobedience, looting and no access to basic amenities are the reality in Iraq today.
Reconstruction is too heavy a burden for the Americans to get involved in. As has been the case in many other countries the US carries out with urgency and to great effect those actions which are beneficial to national interests. In the case of Afghanistan, this was regime change and hunting for Al-Qaeda after using September 11th as a pretext to initiate its bloody and terrorising campaign around the world. Quite conveniently, this War on ‘terror’ allowed the Americans to establish a foothold in Central Asia through bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan as well as Afghanistan, which would have been unthinkable ten years ago. As we are seeing in Iraq, once the deed is done, America tends to drag its feet because ultimately it sees no benefit in engrossing its assets in reconstruction (apart from letting private firms win lucrative contracts).
Afghanistan has shown that, apart from supplying emergency aid relief to a few of the starving population, America has not embroiled itself in any of the complexities of rebuilding Afghanistan. Many of the two million refugees who have returned are in a worse condition than those who have received the American aid in the capital. They have nothing on which to survive. The only aid they are given, however, is money for fares, a bag of flour and a survival package consisting of plastic sheeting, soap and a hygiene cloth. The American administration is only concerned with avoiding media images of millions of starving Afghans.
A stupid representative of a stupid President epitomises in a few words the abiding attitude of his government to the people of Afghanistan.
As long as the client regime of Hamid Karzai continues to ally itself with the US and give its troops free access throughout the country, the Afghan people will remain of secondary importance. This brazen disregard for the population was demonstrated when Paul Wolfowitz visited Mazar-i-Sharif in July 2002 and gave backing to the local warlords whose forces are responsible for many of the abuses in the north. Human Rights Watch researchers spent four weeks visiting dozens of villages and communities affected by violence and looting. A Pashtun woman described to them how soldiers from the ethnic Hazara Hezb-i-Wahdat faction raped her tribeswomen. “They took all the women and girls to another room and started with my fourteen-year-old daughter.” Another example came in the second week of December which saw the brutal slaying of fifteen children in Ghazni and Gardez at the hands of indiscriminate bombing by American A10 tank busters.
The Propaganda War
Western media churns out the same rosy stories the Soviets did about liberating Afghanistan, freeing women and educating children. The only real difference now is that the propaganda merchants are the Americans. The invaders have changed but the propaganda remains the same. The fancy statements made by the Bush administration regarding helping the Afghans are purely for public consumption and electioneering purposes. A false vision of a peaceful Afghanistan with a stable society and a growing economy is being portrayed to the American people.
Post September 11th all sorts of accusations were made by the British and Americans regarding the Taleban profiting from the opium trade, despite the fact the Taleban had banned growing poppies the year before. As was the case with Iraq, unsubstantiated claims were made that sounded good to the domestic audience and reduced the opposition to war. It should be noted that America’s allies the Northern Alliance are taking full advantage of the drugs trade; in fact Afghanistan has once again become the top exporter of heroin.
Much was made of the plight of women under the Taleban when it was useful to. Laura Bush said in November 2001, “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” Yet the US has been strangely quiet over the last two years. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), millions of Afghan women and children continue to face major health and nutrition problems with maternal and infant mortality among the worst in the world. A report by Human Rights Watch, issued in July 2003, warns that violence, political intimidation and attacks on women and girls are increasing; so much for the concerns of the Afghan women.
The Bush administration has made many rhetorical promises for a “Marshall Plan”. However, in reality it did not even request funds for humanitarian or reconstruction projects in Afghanistan in the latest budget. Congress has stepped in to find a meagre $300 million for a nation in tatters. (More than $5 billion in US economic and military aid is delivered to Israel each year).
Trillions of dollars worth of oil will be shipped through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea, and (at a premium) to your local gas station.
Washington’s motivation for the invasion of Afghanistan was to satisfy geopolitical, commercial and strategic interests within the region. The US seized the opportunity to increase its military presence in Central Asia and has established a string of military bases throughout the region. The commercial benefits are clear as exemplified by the May 2002 deal for a $2 billion pipeline to bring gas from Central Asia to the subcontinent. The deal was officially signed on 27 December 2002, by Karzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. Afghanistan will be a mere conduit for transporting the estimated $4 trillion worth of Central Asia’s oil reserves out of the region. US based Unocal Corp, in particular, has long sought a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan.
Muslims Should Challenge Propaganda
Noam Chomsky famously once stated that the first thing lost in war is the truth. The US and Britain clearly exaggerated and invented negative propaganda that was projected towards the Taliban regime and falsely accused Iraq of possessing WMD in order to discredit them in the eyes of the public and hence build a case for war. They then selectively presented facts post war to give a misleading impression of progress. This propaganda was aimed primarily at Western audience but also was used to convince Muslims that the actions they were undertaking were for the betterment of the Muslims of Afghanistan, Iraq and the wider Middle East.
This propaganda campaign by the kuffar (disbelievers) is not a new phenomenon. When looking to the seerah (way of life) of the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, we find many scenarios where the Quraish (a powerful tribe of polytheists that controlled Mecca) and her allies sought to undermine the Muslims through engaging in the spreading of lies in order to turn public opinion against the Muslims at that time.
In one incident Allah’s Messenger, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, was informed that the people of Khaybar and the Quraish of Mecca were conspiring to raid the Muslims. The Quraish had for some time been spreading propaganda and propagating lies that the Muslims had broken the sanctity of the sacred months and were spilling blood. In response to the propaganda being spread and the collusion between the Quraish and the tribe of Khaybar, Muhammad, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, decided to respond by visiting Mecca for pilgrimage.
A caravan with (1,400 of the companions) set off from Medina at the beginning of Dhil Qa’dah, 6 A.H. At Dhul Hulaifah they donned pilgrim’s robes with the intention of performing umrah (the ‘lesser pilgrimage’ to Mecca). The Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, wanted to share with the non-Muslim Arabs his pilgrimage, even though they were not Muslims and had no allegiance to Islam. By doing this action, it would gain public opinion in favour of the Muslims in case the Quraish prevented him from entering Mecca. The Muslims took with them 70 camels, with collars round their necks indicating that they were sacrificial animals, and kept only a sword each in sheaths, which the pilgrims were allowed to carry according to the recognized custom of Arabia, but no other weapon. The caravan set out for the Kabah (the holy temple built by Abraham, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, in Mecca), and after travelling six miles they stopped at a place called Dhul Hulaybah and there they prepared themselves with the call for umrah and the Muslims began to chant "labbaik, Allahumma labbaik" (My God, I have responded to You).
The Quraish, aware of the advance of the Muslims, were frightened and began to prepare to resist the Muslims. They prepared an army and created the impression in Mecca that the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, had come to invade. The Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, had received the news that the Quraish were preparing an army to resist them and that they would stop the Muslims from entering Mecca. With all normal routes blocked to Mecca by the Quraish, the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, embarked on a different route and settled at a place called Hudaybia. The Quraish were willing to fight to make the Muslims turn back to Medina but believed that they had a higher reputation than the Muslims and decided to see what the Muslims were up to. A delegation was sent to the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and they saw the Muslims in a state of pilgrimage. They returned convinced that the Muslims were truthful in what they had been saying but the Quraish accused them of taking the Muslims’ side. They sent delegation after delegation, but they all came back with the same story.
The Quraish’s hatred was even stronger than before, given that all their delegations had nothing but good to say about the Muslims. As a result, they sent out youths to throw stones at the Muslims to instigate a reaction but the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, controlled the anger of his followers. The youths were captured and they were released. This action had a powerful effect in Mecca and was convincing proof that the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, was indeed telling the truth and the Muslims had no intention to fight.
Through refusing to respond to the propaganda by fulfilling it, the Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, ensured a peaceful pilgrimage, and helped to spread the message of Islam.
The negotiations between both sides continued, with the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, even sending a delegation to discuss with the Quraish. Negotiations continued until the Quraish sent Suhail Ibn Amr to negotiate with the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and after discussions, the terms set forth were accepted by the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. Through this treaty, the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, had achieved the aims which he had desired when he instigated his plan to visit Mecca. He had wanted to isolate the people of Khaybar from the Quraish and overcome the false propaganda that had been propagated by the Quraish. Public opinion in Mecca had been won over by the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, which created a welcoming populace when the liberation of Mecca took place. The victors were the Muslims, as they had countered Quraishi accusations effectively leading to the eventual truce between the two.
The West always resorts to clever spin to justify the unjustifiable, as the Quraish tried to do at the time of the Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. The most recent examples have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. They simply move on from one Muslim target to the next with impunity. It will not come as a surprise when a new target somewhere in the Islamic world will be chosen. This will again require the launch of a new propaganda war built up slowly over time. The Muslim Ummah (worldwide Muslim community) needs to counteract this onslaught by the war mongering West by challenging the deceit, falsities and twisting of facts. We should note how our beloved Prophet, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and his companions did not sit idle and allow Quraish to ride roughshod over Islam. The Ummah needs to undertake such actions as using the media, taking advantage of the Internet, pressurising the illegitimate rulers in the Muslim countries, engaging in individual contact and other styles that will allow her to get the message across that exposes the plans of the West in the Muslim world. This will aid the build up of a public opinion that will not be distorted by propaganda.
However, the Ummah is disadvantaged by not having state machinery to convey political messages and shape public opinion. This is why it is so important to realise the goal of establishing the Khilafah State. It will be natural for an ideological state such as the Khilafah - and indeed it is its duty - to root out the claims of the West. A state that represents an alternative world view based on the belief of Islam will seek to refute the very basis of Capitalist nations. The whole world arena is set to be transformed, a transformation that the West deems a nightmare scenario but one where the Ummah will rejoice.
Article courtesy of 1924.org