Withdraw British troops from Afghanistan now!

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BRITAIN’S Foreign Secretary David Miliband told NATO imperialist military chiefs in Brussels yesterday that the strategy in Afghanistan must be geared to ‘an inclusive political settlement’, including those ‘who want Islamic rule locally’.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government has dropped calls for ‘democracy’ and talk of ‘allowing girls to go to school’ from its war propaganda. Miliband’s speech was tantamount to admitting defeat for the imperialist forces in Afghanistan.

It is eight years since United States imperialism invaded Afghanistan in 2001, as part of its strategy to control this oil-rich region of the world. The country was seen as necessary to provide the US and European Union with a pipeline route from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The war was initiated in 2001 on the pretext that Afghanistan’s Taleban government was harbouring the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and there had to be ‘regime change’ in this ‘failed state’.

Today, after tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, men, women and children, have been killed during the course of the war, US President Barack Obama and his very junior partner Brown are proposing a coalition government that will include forces from the Taleban.

The mass of the people of Afghanistan regard the country as their state and they have no intention of allowing foreign governments in Washington and London to decide who will rule their country.

This historic movement for national liberation against colonial rule, which has led to the establishment of independent states throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is at work through the Taleban national resistance movement. The forces of history are moving in the opposite direction to that charted by Bush, Obama, Blair and Brown.

In a newspaper article yesterday, Miliband wrote: ‘The insurgency has proved resilient, adaptable and deadly. . . Success against the insurgency requires legitimate local politics, formal and informal. That explains the importance of credible elections next month.

‘The decisions of the next Afghan government will be key. There are three major political challenges for it to address: it must divide the insurgency through the reconciliation and reintegration of former Taleban; it must reassure and support the Afghan population at large; and it must develop a constructive dialogue with Afghanistan’s neighbours.’

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, who was in Afghanistan, added: ‘I think people recognise from the experience of places like Northern Ireland that it is necessary to put military pressure on the Taleban, while at the same time holding out the prospect that there can be a political process that can follow.’

Alexander is referring to the fact that British imperialism could not militarily defeat the Irish national liberation movement. It found collaborators in the Irish Republican camp to call off the insurgency and maintain British rule in the six counties.

The statements by Miliband and Alexander amount to an exit strategy and an admission of defeat by the Brown government ahead of the August 20 election.

With more than 60,000 US troops, 9,000 British troops and thousands from other NATO countries taking part in the occupation, and casualties mounting, Canadian forces have already quit.

In countries like Britain, where the government is engaged in the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the working class has an internationalist duty to support the Taleban’s national liberation struggle.

Workers must insist that their trades unions organise mass demonstrations, rallies and strikes to demand the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan now.

With the Brown government embarking on huge cuts in the National Health Service, education and the Welfare State to repay government debts built up bailing out the banks, every pound spent on the war in Afghanistan is a pound taken away from essential services.

The working class must end the war against the Afghan people by bringing down the Brown government and establishing a workers’ government that will withdraw all troops from abroad and disband British imperialism’s armed forces.