Sunday, 1 July 2007

Chaos in Afghanistan

Not a day goes by now without further civilian casualties and bloodshed in Afghanistan. Even the usually compliant Hamid Karzai has been forced to condemn foreign forces for the careless use of "extreme force" and for viewing Afghan lives as "cheap". I don't for one moment believe that this is a huge concern of his given his silence for several years, while thousands of his countrymen have died. However, he is obviously facing internal pressures that have forced even him to speak out.

It appears that over 80 civilians were killed in Afghanistan on Friday following US air strikes. On the eve of the Rome conference, the UK MoD has announced the death of yet another British soldier in Afghanistan.

The latest death brings the number of British military fatalities in Afghanistan to 63, since operations began in 2001.

Just as in Iraq, the lack of security has prevented any reconstruction or economic improvement. European and American NGOs live in protected and isolated enclaves indulging in conspicuous western lifestyles while the average Afghan is unable to feed himself or his family. The writ of Karzai's government barely extends beyond his palace and corrupt government officials forcibly expropriate the property of the powerless common people.

Unfortunately it appears that occupation, inhumane treatment of prisoners, chronic insecurity, minimal reconstruction and a huge growth in the opium trade are the main features of modern day Afghanistan.

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