AFGHANISTAN: IRISH GOVERNMENT MUST ATONE FOR ITS INVOLVEMENT IN THIS FUTILE WAR AND OCCUPATION

IRISH ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT (IAWM)

PRESS RELEASE – 17 August 2021

• IRISH GOVERNMENT MUST ATONE FOR ITS INVOLVEMENT IN THIS FUTILE WAR AND OCCUPATION

• IRISH GOVERNMENT MUST CLOSE THE SHANNON WARPORT EXCEPT FOR REFUGEES AND HUMANITARIAN AID

• TWENTY YEARS OF US-LED WAR AN ABSOLUTE CATASTROPHE FOR AFGHANISTAN

• SOLIDARITY WITH ALL AFGHANS AT THIS TIME ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND YOUNG GIRLS

The Irish Anti War Movement is appalled at the scenes unfolding in Kabul as desperate and frightened Afghans cling to the side of aeroplanes while taking off. This is surely the most iconic horrific image of the legacy of a failed, futile 20-year war that should never have happened and a terrible rebuttal to the failed foreign policies and imperial hubris of the US, Britain and the NATO countries.

We stand in solidarity with all Afghans who are seeking what every human being wants – a secure and peaceful life to fulfill their ambitions and dreams, and to live with no threat of violence, whatever their beliefs. This will surely be denied to many under the new rule of the Taliban, but it was also an illusion to so many in Afghanistan for the last 20 years.

Following the horrific crime of the 9/11 attack the Taliban were willing to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the US authorities. Yet the US preferred to launch a horrific, brutal war on one of the poorest countries in the world. The results have been a catastrophe for the country as well as for many western servicemen and women and their families. Wedding parties were bombed, so many civilians killed and a capture and torture regime established with innocent Afghans incarcerated and tortured.

Successive puppet governments were installed by the US and its allies followed by favouritism, cronyism and corruption. The brutal Northern Warlords were rehabilitated and given major positions of authority including the capturing of unsuspecting Afghan civilians some of whom ended up in Guantanamo Bay after torture in the notorious Bagram Prison. Ruhul Ahmed of the Tipton Three, who the IAWM hosted in Ireland in 2007, was one of so many who suffered such a fate. He spent two years incarcerated, including being tortured, in Guantanamo.

The resultant suffering for so much of the population merely inculcated much hatred and distrust among the population which partly accounts for the speed of the Taliban takeover.

Of the 775,000 US troops that served in Afghanistan, 2,448 were killed outright along with almost 4,000 hired contractors. Over 457 British soldiers died. So many more were injured. How many more committed suicide after returning home? A study by Brown University shows that the number of suicides of US military veterans is four times greater than the number of deaths through military combat, accounting to a staggering 30,000 since the 9/11 attack. Many of these most likely served in Afghanistan.

As the late Robert Fisk once noted, since enemy deaths are not counted by the occupying military powers, the number of civilians killed is unknown and disputed. Associated Press has reported that a total of 47,525 Afghan civilians have been killed. However Afghan rights groups claim that at least 100,000 Afghanis have been killed, with 300,000 wounded, with most of these being civilians.

There has been little real advancement in women's rights outside of the Green Zone shelters and the urban centres. Those advancements that occurred are of course welcome but there has been so much whitewashing by western media in its rush to justify the so-called Good War as an excuse to help women and young girls.

So much financial aid was wasted on ghost projects with much profiteering by the providers.

The heroin trade has exploded over the last 20 years. Opium growing and distribution was controlled under the previous rule of the Taliban. Now, 90% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan, with the Taliban allegedly profiteering from this, and 10% of all young Afghans are opium addicts. Not a good omen for stability.

Afghanistan is thus a completely failed state, with horrific poverty and deprivation, with huge suffering and bitterness among the population, and a massive humanitarian crisis looming. The extended drought, the displacement of up to 500,000 people, the food dependency of more than one third of the entire population along with the twin evils of the Covid Pandemic and climate change add to the potential for much more suffering.

No one knows yet how the incoming Taliban regime will behave. Past experience is frightening, especially for women, young girls and minority groups. There are some signs of a more moderate group prevailing. Whatever happens, there is no military way or right for foreign governments to impact this and current threats of military bombardments by the US are irresponsible.

Massive humanitarian aid and offers of assistance to Afghan refugees must become the top priority of all governments along with a commitment to work with progressive NGOs to help alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

Successive Irish Governments are deeply implicated in the suffering in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, through the unrestricted facilitation to the US Military at Shannon Airport. They must now be held to account by all peace loving Irish people. The Government should close Shannon Airport to all military planes except those carrying refugees or humanitarian aid or on route to transport refugees. This will send a strong message to the warmongering powers, especially the US, that the war and occupation of Afghanistan has been a catastrophic failure.

The Government should also instruct its representative at the UN Security Council to condemn the 20-year war and occupation, to welcome the withdrawal of all foreign military forces, and to request massive humanitarian aid to the country and a welcoming to Afghan refugees especially by those countries involved in the war. This would be a minor reparation for the suffering and instability caused by 20 years of a futile, unwinnable and unnecessary war.

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