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Why are we still in Afghanistan when 74% want us out?

Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
19 September 2011

The Stop the War Coalition was founded ten years ago this week. When we began we little realized how many consequences there would be of the war on terror.

The latest was revealed today with news of the increase in US army raids on Afghan civilians.

Having increased fivefold between 2009 and 2010, they are on the rise again and are estimated at 40 a night across Afghanistan.

That figure is a bit of a jaw dropper. It means on average a raid every night in every major town or city in Afghanistan.

Presumably in some areas there are far more than this, meaning that every Afghan in the locality will know of the raids, will resent the violence and intrusion and upset to families caused by them and will wonder what they have done to deserve such treatment.

The Afghan population is around 28 million, comparable with some US states. Probably 40 raids a night in California or Texas looking for terrorists would cause a bit of a stir. But the Afghans are just meant to put up with it. As they are expected to suffer increased levels of airstrikes, displacement from their homes and a mass refugee problem, because they are being 'helped' by the NATO operation in Afghanistan.

In these last ten years we have seen rendition of suspected terrorists, imprisonment without trial in Baghram and Guantanamo, laws allowing the rape of women in marriage, the harassment of the courageous woman MP Malalai Joya in and outside parliament, torture, corruption, drone attacks.

Because the Nato forces have been so unsuccessful, they are doing what all occupying armies do: brand the local population as terrorists or those who are assisting terrorists, treat them as hostile to the army, and act in such a way that ensures that the local population does become hostile to the occupying soldiers.

The increased raids and airstrikes mean one thing: more repression of local people, more attacks on their rights and civil liberties.

We quite rightly campaign against what Israel does to the Palestinians, the criminalization of a whole population being used to justify an illegal and unjustified occupation.

But many in Britain simply do not know what is happening in Afghanistan. There is barely coverage of the war there, deaths of British soldiers now reported in the briefest terms, and those of Afghans usually not at all.

More than two thirds of people in Britain want the troops out now or very quickly. Similar numbers in the US now oppose Obama's war. They are sick of the killing and the cost which working people in Britain, the US and Afghanistan are having to pay.

Now we have a job to do so that the situation in Afghanistan becomes known, in a way that Palestine has received a much higher political profile. This is especially important given the warmongering role of the British government and that there are 10,000 British troops there.

All the more reason to sign up now to join the mass assembly against the war on its tenth anniversary in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 8 October.

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