Afghan Anguish

Afghan Anguish

“We’ve been forgotten. Women no longer constitute a priority for our government or for the international community,” Shinkai Karokhail, one of the few women members of the Afghan Parliament, confided in December. Worse than forgotten, Afghan women today are once again trampled upon, sacrificed. “It’s a return to the leaden years,” protests Shoukria Haïdar, president of the Negar Association-Support for Afghan women, on her way through Paris last week, in reference to the five years of the 1996-2001 Islamic Regime under the strict authority of Mullah Omar. Five years after having driven him from power, Westerners, with Americans in the lead, are courting him – Mullah Omar and his friends – in the name of “national reconciliation.” Go figure!

Also See: Sara Daniel | Afghan Women’s Anguish

The international conference held in London on Thursday ratified this new plan, which Hamid Karzai explained at some length without causing any stir. Washington set the tone. Barack Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, made it known that as far as they were concerned the Taliban are part of the “political landscape” in Afghanistan and ought to be included in the government. The conclusion was given before the discussion, so the dialog between the parties must be well-advanced. Meetings with active Taliban members took place on January 8 in Dubai. The subsequent denials haven’t fooled anyone. The Taliban are socially acceptable once again in the eyes of Washington. As they were when they were installed in Kabul, courted by the United States, which saw them as favored partners to bring the ambitions of oil services company Unocal to the desired conclusion, with a certain Karzai, employee of the firm, acting as intermediary with the Kabul mullahs. A return to “Go.”

Then there’s the other component of Barack Obama’s program, an accelerated military surge in Afghanistan involving a greater commitment from NATO allies, to the great displeasure of the mass of public opinion in the countries that have been enlisted. In France, according to an Ifop-l’Humanité poll, 80 percent of those questioned are opposed to these reinforcements. Nicolas Sarkozy’s convoluted statements on the issue amused Hillary Clinton, who was at the Élysée on Friday. “Not one more French combatant in Afghanistan,” proclaims the president, who replaces the term “soldiers” with “trainers.” No one is fooled.

But if Washington has come to a policy of outreach towards the enemy, why then the ferocious energy devoted to convincing Atlantic Alliance members to send reinforcements? Is Afghanistan only in play or is the will to reimpose the hyperpower global leadership contested by ever more countries, also? In her speech at the ‘École militaire, Hillary Clinton recalled the great values that “unite” the West and NATO’s intangible role in this solidarity of powers. In asserting their unity, NATO member states make themselves complicit in all compromises. And their cohesion in the eyes of Washington is a gage for the future of Pax Americana.

Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.

L’Humanité (“Humanity”) was founded in 1904 by Jean Jaurès, a leader of the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO). Truthout translations are published with permission and in cooperation with the independent paper, which has an English language site http://www.humaniteinenglish.com/ where Truthout and other translations are posted.

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Afghan Women’s Anguish
Sara Daniel, Le Nouvel Observateur
Tuesday 02 February 2010

While NATO troops are fighting the Taliban, Western diplomats are trying to kiss and make up with them. Negotiating with the enemy: that’s the new strategy the West is declaring for Afghanistan. This past January 8 in Dubai, Kaï Eide, the UN’s representative in Kabul spoke to some of their mediators. In a diplomatic paradox, in the corridors of Lancaster House where the London conference on Afghanistan took place last week, Western officials took up the fears of the Taliban such as, for example, disappearing into Kabul’s Bagram prison interrogation centers. Hamid Karzai asked that five Taliban, who had left the movement, be removed from the UN-established list of persons to sanction and he obtained 140 million dollars to finance the first year of his national reconciliation program. Some days earlier, Gen. Stanley McCrystal himself had opened the door to this political stage in the conflict by declaring to the Financial Times, “As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there’s been enough fighting in Afghanistan …”It’s not certain that this new tactic will convince soldiers engaged in the southern provinces – who know that money injected into the enemy runs the risk, at least at first, of resulting in a fresh upsurge in NATO troop losses. And then, “why risk one’s life today fighting our allies of tomorrow?” wonders public opinion in the countries where soldiers fighting in Afghanistan come from. Others unhappy with the new Western strategy: Afghan women.

“What concessions will Hamid Karzai’s government grant the Taliban so they agree to the Constitution?” warned the president of a women’s association who was present at the London conference on Afghanistan. “You can be sure that it will be women who pay the price for this ‘national reconciliation.’ Eight years of war for what? To end up offering pledges to the Taliban!”

Translation: Truthout French Language Editor
Leslie Thatcher.