Friday, January 8, 2010

5000 Afghans shout 'Death to Obama'

Recently, protests over the alleged US special forces massacre of eight teenagers were held in Kabul and Jalalabad, where hundreds of students rallied, as well as in Asadabad, the capitol of Kunar province where the killings occurred. That protest was attended by 1,500 according to media reports.

But yesterday in Jalalabad, a new protest brought 5,000 people to the streets chanting slogans against the US over the deaths of several civilians in a bomb blast near that city. But the unusual (and vitally important) thing about the protest is that it was an insurgent bombing, not American planes or troops, which took that toll.

In this context, the message of the protest is clear: Afghans blame the occupation for all the violence in that country, even those acts perpetrated by those who resist the foreigners. While this is not an unusual phenomenon, it is one lost on many who write on the war in Afghanistan. Just recently I mentioned the phenomenon to a Canadian military blogger in response to his comment, but "" appeared neither to know nor care. This is certainly not unusual; many commentators, in response to justified outrage about civilians killed by foreign forces, rebut with a breathless catalog of insurgent crimes. This latest protest shows how morally shallow such performances are.

In any case, it is interesting that those Afghans in the streets of Jalalabad are in a way making concrete the Nuremburg principle that aggression is the "supreme international crime [which] contains within itself all the accumulated evil of the whole."

New civilian deaths roil Afghans
Thousands chant ‘Death to America' to protest latest killing of children

KABUL, Jan 7 (AP) - Thousands of Afghans shouting "Death to America" protested the killings of children Thursday, the latest in a string of controversial cases in which international forces have been blamed for civilian deaths...

On Wednesday, an explosion tore through a group of children gathered around foreign soldiers visiting a U.S.-funded road project in Nangarhar province, east of the capital of Kabul. Afghan officials said four children were killed. NATO said two died.

Minutes after the blast, local residents were accusing American forces of throwing a grenade into the crowd — even though several international troops were among the wounded. The Afghan Interior Ministry later released a statement saying the explosion occurred when a passing police vehicle hit a mine.

Still, an estimated 5,000 protesters demonstrated the deaths Thursday along a road between Kabul and Jalalabad in Nangarhar. They waved a banner condemning the attack, set fire to an effigy of President Barack Obama and chanted "Long live Islam!" and "Death to Obama!"

"We are shouting 'Death to America' and 'to the Afghan government,'" Sardar Wali, a university student at the demonstration. "It is the responsibility of the Afghan government to find and hand over the people who are responsible for this attack." ... (link)


Andrew said...

It's strange that Karzai currently has a 72% approval rating and the majority of Afghans favour the NATO occupation according to a recent poll reported in today's Guardian.

Dave Markland said...

It's not so strange that great efforts will be made to justify aggression, nor that significant opposition among the supposed beneficiaries will be ingnored.
The poll you refer to was conducted for the BBC and others. LSE professor Antonio Giustozzi recently discussed his own efforts to evaluate the BBC polls. He found that interviewees were seldom unemployed (in a country with at least 40pc unemployment) and were quite frequently police officers. In other words, the sample is a highly biased one. To back up his claim, Giustozzi cites the ISAF forces' own (unpublished) surveys which have found support for Karzai to be as low as 4pc.
Of course, we're unlikely to hear about such uncomfortable facts since Afghan opinion, or rather the perception of it in the west, is a big concern for enforcers of official doctrine. I predict that most commentary will ignore Giustozzi's findings.
Thank you for your comment.
Link to Giustozzi interview: