Sunday, September 7, 2008

British imperialism's resurgence

While NATO propagandists and their media allies repeatedly assure us that our troops are there to support a sovereign, burgeoning democracy, reality keeps interfering with their high-minded pronouncements:

The Sunday Times
Hamid Karzai blames Britain for Taliban resurgence

Sept 7 - The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has blamed Britain for the resurgence of the Taliban and its growing activity in large tracts of the country.

His remarks, made to Afghan MPs, follow a clash with Gordon Brown over the Kabul regime’s links with warlords and drugs barons.

Karzai claims Brown has threatened to withdraw British troops from Helmand province, where 31 of them have died this year, if the president reinstates two provincial governors sacked for alleged dealings in the heroin trade.

One of them is Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, the former governor of Helmand, who was forced out under British pressure two years ago after nine tons of opium and heroin were discovered in his basement. Karzai’s plan to reinstate the governors has alarmed western diplomats in Kabul and dismayed British officials.

The number of British soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since 2001 rose last week to 117 when Justin James Cupples, a 29-year-old ranger, was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol. Diplomats say it would be hard to justify such sacrifices if drug barons held sway.

However, the Taliban have made advances since Akhundzada’s departure and drug production has increased. Karzai believes Britain’s “interference” is to blame. A senior diplomat said: “UK taxpayers subsidise and British troops die to defend an administration which is paranoid, self-deluding and anti-British.”

Akhundzada is a powerful tribal leader in the area and Karzai is convinced his return would help the government reassert control. In a recent interview, Karzai said Akhundzada’s alleged links to drugs could be overlooked.

“We removed Akhundzada on the allegation of drug-running, and delivered the province to drug runners, the Taliban, to terrorists, to a threefold increase of drugs and poppy cultivation,” he said. “Now there are hundreds of tons of heroin in basements across Helmand.”

Karzai denounced Britain’s opposition to the return of Akhundzada in meetings with Afghan MPs last month. According to Khalid Pashtun, the national assembly member for Kandahar, Karzai said: “Gordon Brown told me, ‘If you are reinstating this person, we will take our forces out’.”

Karzai believes Akhundzada’s powerful militia would beat back the Taliban, allowing British troops to focus on winning “hearts and minds”.

Some western diplomats in Afghanistan suspect, however, that Akhundzada has encouraged Taliban attacks on British forces to make his tenure as governor look like “a golden age”. They fear his reinstatement could actually lead to an escalation of fighting between rival drugs gangs... (link)
In April of this year, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier publicly called for the governor of Kandahar to be removed from his post. Though this blatant bullying resulted in Governor Khalid remaining in his post so that the Karzai government could save face, he was finally removed in August.

Here's a portion of that blog post:
It is important to recall that Canada is making a habit of meddling in Afghan internal affairs. To review:

It was Canada who suggested the appointment of a "super envoy" to Afghanistan to coordinate UN and NATO efforts there. Originally, the post was to be filled by Britain's Lord Ashdown, but President Karzai pointedly rejected him. Eventually, the Norwegian Kai Eide, seen to be much less of a take-charge kind of guy, got the job.

The Canadian military wrote words for Karzai to mouth when he visited Parliament in September of 2006. A Canadian Forces document spells it out:
Team prepared initial draft of president's address to Parliament 22 Sep(tember). It was noted that key statistics, messages, themes, as well as overall structure, were adopted by the president in his remarks ...
Also, we must not forget Canada's Strategic Advisory Teams embedded in Afghan government ministries. According to one veteran defense journalist the SAT's, a brainchild of General Hillier, are a "unique project – well beyond the normal realm of military operations".

The meddling doesn't stop there. From the Toronto Star:
The police chief in Zhari district is on his way out, in part because of Canadian complaints about his performance.

"He was probably more part of the problem than the solution," [Canadian Colonel] Juneau said.

There is, however, a limit to Canada's willingness to stick its nose in Afghan politics. When the Afghan government executed 15 prisoners last fall, Canadian diplomats were at pains to criticize the Karzai government, citing a reluctance to "interfere". The Dutch, on the other hand, called the executions "extremely unwelcome".

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