‘US occupation has done nothing for Afghanistan’s people’

© Zohra Bensemra
The longest US occupation has done nothing for the Afghans; there’s no security in the country and President Obama is passing the problem on to the next administration, Sara Flounders, of the International Action Centre told RT.

President Obama said Thursday the military presence in Afghanistan will be extended beyond 2016. The number of US troops will be reduced from 10,000 to 5,500 by 2017.

READ MORE: Obama to keep 5,500 US troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office

RT: Obama says he wants to defend Afghanistan and its people. Do you think his words are much comfort to the relatives of thousands of Afghan civilians reportedly killed by US air strikes?

Sara Flounders: ...This is already the longest war and it is a war that by every measure is an absolute and horrendous failure, especially for the people of Afghanistan- one of the poorest, or the poorest country in the world. One in three Afghans lives in absolute poverty. Half the urban population doesn’t have access to safe water. So, US’ longest occupation has done nothing for the people of Afghanistan, and that is why there is no security. 

What President Obama statement is – he is passing this problem on to the next administration – whoever it is- to also perhaps call for a new surge. There is a real fraud in the numbers that President Obama is presenting and that the US is always presenting when it talks about its involvement. He said that 9,800 US troops would stay, but then he also referred to the involvement of 42 other nations, which are additional thousands of troops. He makes no mention of there now more than 30,000 US paid contractors in Afghanistan. That’s huge and it’s much larger:  the contractors used to be of equal number to the troops - now there are three times as many. So by every measure, while more than a trillion dollars have been spent in Afghanistan, the US is still in league with the same warlords that they have been involved with since 1979.

Obama preparing ground for democrats

Some 5,500 US troops that President Obama is going to keep in Afghanistan are not going to make a huge difference on the ground, but will be used for the public relations preparing the ground for democrats, said Middle East expert Zayd Alisa.

RT: Barack Obama said the central core of the war was to incapacitate Al-Qaeda. That’s far off from the horizon, isn’t it?

Zayd Alisa: Of course, they haven’t even come close to achieving that, and the vivid example of the Taliban managing to seize control in a dramatic surge - the city of Kunduz, which was a major achievement considering that the Americans have been there since 2001. We’ve had so many claims that they are winning the war on terrorism and that they are actually uprooting Al-Qaeda and also the Taliban. We noticed that [their] strategy has faulted, and this is largely due to their fibber leadership and feckless performance on the ground, and [unwillingness] to cooperate and coordinate with the major countries and major forces that are spearheading and at the forefront of combating and confronting terror – that is Russia, Iran, Syrian government, and also the Iraqi mobilization forces on the ground. They are steadfastly determined to doing it alone and to use those extremist forces as a perfect pretext and excuse to consolidate their waning influence, and also to sure up, ratchet up and entrench their presence in those countries. 

READ MORE: Afghan withdrawal halt ‘represents failure for Obama administration’

RT: Can 5,500 troops, in your opinion, make a practical difference; make a headway against the Taliban at the end of the day?

ZA: I don’t think they are going to make a huge difference on the ground. They will use it basically for public relations to say and to prepare the ground for the democrats - that is Hillary Clinton - to say: “Look, we’ve learned the lessons of Iraq, although we’ve learned them the hard way. We’re going to keep a force because the Republicans were scathingly critical about it in the 2012 election.” Also, the US and Obama will say: “Look, although, I pledged to remove those forces, but because of the security position; I’ve learned the lessons of Iraq and I’m keeping that residual force.” Although, we’ve seen clearly that it is basically the cracks of the problem - the Americans have adamantly refused to cooperate and coordinate with the main countries who have been at the forefront on fighting extremism.

U.S. President Barack Obama © Jonathan Ernst

We have a vivid example of Syria – when Russians have actually achieved in two weeks spectacular results. They have taken the terrorists on, they took the fight to the terrorists; they turned the tide on them in just two weeks, whereas the US have been dithering and wavering, and carrying out those futile, merely window dressing airstrikes, that have intensified and dramatically escalated the power and influence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that is ISIS...

Kunduz – militias’ melting pot

The US and its allies have been financing and arming militias across Afghanistan, with the only prerequisite being that they have to be anti-Taliban, says Mike Raddie, co-Editor of BSNews.

RT: Why do Taliban positions still remain strong in Afghanistan?

Mike Raddie: Taliban had taken control of all of Kunduz maybe for a couple of weeks. There is a good reason for this - they had amazingly popular support from locals on the ground, because Kunduz … has been for the last few years a melting pot of militias. The US and its allies have been arming and financing militias across the country. The only prerequisite is that you have to be anti-Taliban – that is it. So there are more guns… there are grenades and explosives in Afghanistan than there were 15 years ago. So for the people of Afghanistan Obama’s and Bush’s policies have been absolutely disastrous.

RT: What are your thoughts on the US military extending their stay in Afghanistan? Is it going to help in any way to bring peace to the region?

MR: No, I don’t think so. Obviously with US presence there – it just means warlords will continue to get financed. This policy of financing warlords for drug running, for smuggling arms - this is not that different to what President [Jimmy] Carter did back in late 1970’s – this is before the [USSR] invasion of the country. They basically decided to arm the warlords in order to disrupt what was a secular and stable government. And the warlords nowadays have become a little bit more brutal...


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.