The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has once again spotlighted the harrowing situation and precarious future of Afghan people, who have only seen and lived through war and violence over the last four decades. The ascent of the Taliban gives no prospect of peace and social justice either.
Twenty years of US occupation has already left Afghanistan in ruins. The human cost has been severe – over 241,000 Afghan civilians have been killed, and four million Afghans are internally displaced. Another 7 million have left the country as refugees in the last two decades. Around 48% of the Afghan population sits below the national poverty line.
Four decades of imperialist war in Afghanistan has hollowed out the legitimacy of the Afghan state. It has stifled the development of legitimate political forces that represent the will of the Afghan people. Instead, people have been left at the mercy of warlords. The current generation of Afghan youth has only known war.
And now, Afghanistan has returned to authoritarian rule. The Taliban, a regressive, patriarchal, and religious fundamentalist force, rules by striking fear into the Afghan people. Like the 90s, when the Soviet withdrawal left the Taliban in the hands of a billion worth in weapons of war, it is estimated that they now have access to $85 billion of advanced weapons technology left behind by the withdrawing imperialist armies. There are also fears that other fundamentalist groups, internal and external to Afghanistan, will also find a foothold in the region for nefarious activities. Peace seems a distant possibility here.
Millions of Afghans, particularly women, girls, and youth, are trying to escape Taliban rule. The world has watched as many fell to their death, clinging onto planes carrying international diplomats out of the country. Sadly, this is the only outcome possible from imperialist wars, which have wreaked havoc worldwide. In the end, the ones who are left to suffer the most are women, little girls, youth – all who dream for a fair and equal society. It is what imperialism, patriarchy, and capitalist greed have brought onto a people.
The UN has warned that food stocks in Afghanistan could run out by the end of September, pushing millions of people into starvation. More than half of the population depends on foreign aid for their daily needs. Domestic food stocks were already seriously depleted by a drought that has affected supplies of critical crops such as wheat.
Without access to $9bn (£6.6bn) in frozen central bank reserves, held in the US, and with a crucial delivery of dollars cancelled as the former government collapsed, ordinary Afghans are already confronted with rising prices for essential items. The value of the Afghan Rupee has dropped even as they have started to run low on cash.
Regional and global superpowers are eyeing over $1 trillion worth of mineral reserves in the country and are queuing up to legitimize the fundamentalist government that has taken power. The country will continue to face multiple challenges from different imperial and regional economic forces, with financial interests in Afghanistan.
Social movements must stand in solidarity with the Afghan people. As La Via Campesina, we denounce religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and the self-serving interests of the imperial elites.
We call upon the global civil society to resist any attempt to impose economic sanctions on an already ravaged country. Economic sanctions will only break the back of the country’s peasantry and the working class. At the same time, the fundamentalists and the capitalist elites will corner all the international aid that will flow into the country.
We insist that the countries that created this crisis in the first place open the door to Afghan people seeking asylum and refuge.
All of us who believe in an equal, just, peaceful, and free society must come together and stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of Afghanistan.
As La Via Campesina, we will continue to demand a new authority in Afghanistan that respects, protects, and fulfils human rights. We call for the implementation – in letter and spirit – of the UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas to achieve food sovereignty and justice for the people of Afghanistan.
Reject Imperialism, Fundamentalism, and Patriarchy!
For Food Sovereignty, Social Peace, and Social Justice!