کور / بېلابيلي لیکني - پخوانۍ / Post London message; the “Marjah operation?”

Post London message; the “Marjah operation?”

By: Qaribur Rahman Saeed

High authorities and delegates of more than 70 countries, whom have visible presence in Afghanistan gathered   in London on 28th January to elaborate a mechanism for a future prosperous Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the message of the convention to the Freedom fighters was clear: Either surrender or face the tone.

The defiant Taliban while rejecting the first phrase, make themselves prepared for the second one: and that is to fight the well armed international army in the battlefield of Marjah, a part of Nad Ali district in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan.

The already war ragged residence of Helmand and especially some of its most devastated districts are again being heavily attacked by the coalition forces under the name of   “Mushtarak” (together) operation. According to the eyewitnesses, “many were fleeing the area on foot at night, and without taking any belongings with them, the witnessed added that: “About 300 families, from 80,000 populated area have fled the Nad Ali and Babaji areas and over 100 families have left Marjah over the past week.  As the past experienced of these attacks showed that, the future of all these internal displaced and uprooted people is unknown. Neither of the agencies has taken responsibility for the shelter, food and medicine of   those children, women and elders being displaced   forcibly.

According to the locals of Marjah, this tiny part of Nad Ali district, believe to be a hometown of Taliban, is surrounded by Afghan and foreign forces.  Although some of its residence have been fled, but most of its 80.000 are trapped between the warring sides, i.e. Taliban  and the foreign occupation forces. The Afghan Red Crescent Society’s (ARCS) director Ahmadullah Ahmadi says the Taliban has mad hindering in front of the fleeing people. However, the local witness says, the residence themselves are tired of everyday moving from one place to another.

A human catastrophe is, again, on the way to the already uprooted people by starting this huge military operation “Mushtarak” in that specific desert. Though, leaflets warning of an imminent military operation, with out promising any guaranty for shelter or other facilities to the needed, have dropped in Marjah by NATO helicopters.

 From 2001, tens of thousands innocent people have been killed by NATO’s blind bombing. The US led alliance has been blamed for genocide of Pashtoon tribe on both side of the Durand line. Increase of Drone attack in the Tribal belt by Obama’s military might has brought more fatalities and catastrophes to the already poor and uprooted people.

Most of Helmandies, from Sangin, NAD Ali, Baghran, Garmsir, gerishk, Musa Qala, Nawzad districts have already been roaming around since the international forces occupied their land. Settled in the make ship mud houses, in the desert of Helmand, none of the Humanitarian organization has taken care of their resettlement. While Lashker gah, the capital of the said province, is the residence of British Military might for fighting   so-called terrorism.  Meanwhile the claim of British PRT (provincial Reconstruction Team) in the area is pessimistic and has done little for the benefit of the locals. The witness said.

Meanwhile, the ethnic Pashtoons, whom are forcibly displaced by the ethnic warlords form the Northern provinces, are still wandering in a very disastrous condition in the make shape tents in the sandy deserts of Helmand, Heart and Qandahar provinces. In nine years presence in the country, the international community has done nothing for their re-establishment in their native provinces in the north. 

In reality, approximately 30,000 British, American and Afghan troops will be involved in Operation Mushtarak, against a few hundred Taliban and other Mujahideen.  The afghan defence ministry spokesman says around 10 brigades of National army  along with Para military units will join the Operation Mushtarak, while around 15000 US, British and  NATO  alliance force will take part in a small area of 80,000 residence. The operation is believed to be the largest ever since 2001 when the United States waged the war on terror in Afghanistan.    

This  huge operation is  taking  place at  the  time, where president  Obama has obtained  a  Nobel  Peace Prize from the  Norwegian Nation in Dec. last year. However,  sending more then 30,000, troops to  the battle field in Afghanistan and the killing of the innocent school children in  Kunar province as well as  in the Helmand  province by the US army  was  enough to prove the ability of  Obama for that prize. Moreover, in the result of this operation if again the innocent people were killed, the blame and responsibility will be definitely on the shoulders of the peace prize givers.

 Meanwhile the Taliban remained defiant as a leading force an eight-year insurgency. They are massing fighters and arms for a bloody battle in Helmand province expected to start at   any time. Yusuf Ahmadi, a  Taliban spokesman, said  Taliban fighters “prefer to stay and fight, according to him, “Afghan and foreign forces have come to the Marjah area and our mujahedeen( fighter) forces are also in the area firing rockets at them,” he added to the News agencies. In the past nine years, every single year is witnessed to these kinds of operations in several districts of Helmand province.

According to news reports, Taliban and Hezbe Islami guerilla forces use the tactics of putting Roadsides bombs which causes more fatalities to the foreign forces. A total of 59 NATO soldiers have so far been killed in Afghanistan this year where the number of injured and disabled soldiers is not known. It is believe that, in Marjah operation the freedom fighters will use the same warfare game.  

  Helmand is the witness of major operations under deferent names in the past nine years, but so far neither of the forces was able to control it completely. Marjah operation is also a test for General Stanley McChrystal, commander of 113,000 US and NATO forces in the country — where another 40,000 are to deploy by August.

Immediately after the London conference, the announcement of the Marjah operation had shocked the Afghan and international politicians. Political pundits have bounded handful expectations to it. They were expecting that the conference would be able to deliver a peace formula and will exhaust the ways out of this dreadful situation, where the Afghan people as well as the international community are dragged inn. The Afghan government especially president Karzai himself had launched a well organized propaganda before the conference started. While setting beside Abdullah Gull, and Asif Ali Zardari, the presidents of Turkey and Pakistan respectively, In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, president Karzai appeared more optimistic about the results of the conference.  And that were these expectation which raised the potential for peace and stability.

 Gossips  were circling among the political pundits of the region, that the name of the leaders of the Afghan freedom movement would be withdrawn  from the black  list  of the United Nation, and that  there addresses for contact  well be  known, for the peace  process, and thus  the negotiation for the peace would be started as  soon as the names were cleared.   Nonetheless, the United Nations Security Council committee has removed five former   Taliban members from its list of individuals, who are working closely with the US installed regime in Kabul.    

 Those five, whom were put on the UN sanctions list in 2001, are included former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, former deputy minister of commerce Fazal Mohammad, former Taliban press officer Shams-us-Safa Aminzai,  former deputy minister of planning Mohammad Musa Hottak and former deputy minister of frontier affairs Abdul Hakim.

  Before London gathering, the freedom fighter parties, both the Taliban and Hezbe Islami, in their separate communiqués, announced their condition for the peace process, where,   the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country is the most.

HIA leader and former Afghan premier, Eng. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is also on the black list of the UN, is quoted to have said that, he is ready to participate in the political process even under Karzai regime if Karzai split himself from the Occupation forces and the US led coalition announces their schedule withdrawal from the country.

According to Miami herald”The terms Hekmatyar has outlined are softer than those proposed by the Taliban, who have demanded that U.S. and other foreign troops must leave Afghanistan before peace talks can begin. Hekmatyar would allow international forces to remain in the country for 18 months.”

However, the London conference tone was changed and instead gives a signal for more bloodshed. According to the gatherings results, announced jointly by British primer and president Karzai, they asked the opposition to lay down their weapons, recognize the Afghan constitution and women right. They also announced that, they will invite the medium range people of the insurgency, not the leadership. Hundred and forty million dollar budget is going to be used for the bribing of these people. Where it means they will corrupt the freedom fighters links with bribery, but no one knows who long this will work, and how long these bribed people will remain loyal and subjugated to the Karzai government.

Furthermore, the Karzai struggle to bring the Saudis to the fold and press the Taliban to come to the negotiation table is seen to be a fail. After the conference, The Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai rushed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to convince King Abdullah, to help the Afghan government in the peace process with the freedom fighters. However, the kingdom announced its condition for negotiation with the Taliban.  The Kingdom wants the Taliban to sever its relations with Osama bin Laden, the leader of  Al Qaeda, where the Taliban has given a high price for the Al Qaeda  leader in 2001, when they  denied  to  surrender  him  to  the request  of USA. The kingdom’s condition for negotiation with the Taliban means saying no to president Karzai request. The reply of the Taliban for the London conference was a practical step of attacking on one of the official buildings near Lashker gah, the capital of Helmand province.

Another alternative for president Karzai is seem to be calling a grand assembly (Loya Jirga) in the upcoming spring to discuss the ways and means for returning peace and stability to the country. Nonetheless, the recent Marjah operation by the joint forces of NATO alliance and its Afghan army, started recently practically opposing the same goal.

Most of the Afghan independent groups and societies have shown their own resentment about the conference attitude. The Afghan Scottish Society, under, Mohammad N Asif, an exile Afghan Journalist issued a lengthy communiqué, where it says:

  Nine years on and the west still does not know what to do about Afghanistan. The London conference is based on to buy the (loyalty) of Taliban and to set a side 500 million US dollar.”  It adds, The Afghan government is heading on the wrong road to achieve peace. The President of Afghanistan should set directly with the opponents rather than going through a third party. He should form a commission of Tribal elders to negotiate with its opponents on behalf of his government rather than coming to London.

The British Prime Minster and his allies should have invited the real opponents to London conference rather than Hamid Karzai.

Those who fight the invasion are not invited it is a failure for the conference it self

Who is going to guarantee the lives of those who join the peace process will not be killed and assassinated by Northern Alliance, the US and others? Karzai has no power to provide that.

 Finally this conference will be another slap on the face of Hamid Karzai and the west is going to humiliate again but the Afghan people will be dumped by the west and this conference in particular.” The communiqué said. 

While, both sides are preparing themselves to the military confrontations in the battlefield of Marjah, most of the political observers are thinking again for the peaceful solution of the conflict.

Bruce. G. Richardson, an American researcher for Afghanistan says: One strategy that bears consideration is to form a transitional government.  A transitional government would be given a six-month window of opportunity with which to prepare the polity for an election process monitored by a recognized international team, and as such, therefore viewed as credible.  In addition, the transitional government would itself and of necessity be comprised of [all] political factions now contending for power.  No legitimate party/candidate would be excluded. To marshal credibility among the Afghan people, a transitional government should be formulated by an Islamic entity, an Islamic country known to be devoid of agenda, hidden or otherwise in Afghanistan. This would rule out such countries as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, the various Central Asian States, and certainly Egypt. To constitute an effective and representative transitional government, the host country would convene the time-honored Loya Jirga.  This would ensure an eclectic, all-inclusive approach to an interim government in a nation currently divided along ethnic and sectarian lines. To insure good faith negotiations, and to thwart outside interference and patronage, relevant portfolios such as intelligence and interior/military must be divested and placed under a transitional national entity.

He suggests that; the most-qualified country to facilitate a transitional government would likely be Malaysia. Malaysia, an Islamic country is perhaps unique among potential broker countries in that it is not known to harbor any patron/client relationships with members of the Afghan polity or covet the resources of the embattled nation.

As with any and all resolutions and proposals, there will be opposition as injured parties scramble to protect their vested interests. Were the Taliban or Panjshiri-cabal to prove intransigent, alternative- indigenous political forces in the country, those recognized as truly resisting Soviet occupation such as Hezbe-I-Islami, as well as others, combined with the existing national army and police, could field up to 350,000 uniformed troops and could simply overrun those obstinate/inflexible factions who embrace the status quo above the interests of the country. In any such eventuality, the international community, whether under the label of NATO, ISAF, the US, or whomever would have to support such a movement diplomatically, economically and militarily. This position of strength and unity must be forcefully articulated during negotiations that would normally precede the establishment of an interim government to any and all opposed to a negotiated settlement.  Such an approach would negate the obvious risks involved with the arming of villagers as an adjunct to the national army and police. As history dictates, such a force historically lacks central command/control and or loyalty, and often times join ranks with so-called “insurgents.” Such measures as currently proposed by the US have been tested in Afghanistan and elsewhere and shown to fail. 

He concludes as saying; the international community, notably the US and Britain have their stated and hidden agenda. But they must come to realize that to continue to invest trillions-of-dollars in waging an illegal war during the current economic downturn, and to put in jeopardy tens-of-thousands of lives, both American and Afghan, must be construed as folly and or hopelessly ideological.  A continuation of such policies will only serve to blunt their economic and political agenda while serving to inflame and deepen the widely held perception that the US continues to prosecute a war against Islam, and thus exponentially swell the ranks of anti-American militants from around the world, Richardson adds.

Let’s   quote some wise politicians and military generals who say: war is means to compel the warring sides to set on the negotiation table and not the solution of the Problem.

 Qaribur Rahman Saeed.

The author is an Afghan politician and a former Afghan Diplomat.