By: Daniel Xie, The Canada Files, Dec. 8, 2021
On November 24, 2021, while famine was taking hold in Afghanistan, CTV’s National News program broadcast a clip of nine former female Afghani MP’s enjoying a tea party in self-imposed exile on a terrace in Greece, where, according to anchor Lisa Laflamme, they were hatching a plan. The group is composed of one-third of all the female MP’s in the Afghan parliament.
Thanks to a $300,000 donation from an anonymous Canadian donor, the help of a British baroness, and the connivance of the Greek President, they had been spirited out of Afghanistan with their families in three private planes at a cost of $2.1 million CAD. Where were they headed? To Canada.
Their plan: to set up a “parallel parliament” in Toronto. The goal of the said government-in-exile is supposedly to keep fighting for the rights of Afghan women.
What’s the use for the Canadian government?
Why is the Canadian government allowing the formation of an Afghan government-in-exile on Canadian soil? With the massive defeat of the US empire in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban, a defeat drawing to mind images of the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Saigon (now, Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975, the Trudeau government is seeking to lay the groundwork for a second occupation of Afghanistan. True to its role as an appendage for American imperialism, the Trudeau government is collaborating with the Biden Administration. They work to make life as difficult as possible for the people of Afghanistan, in order to bring down the new government and re-impose imperial rule.
This all-women Parliament is a creation of the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, an occupation that turned the country into the third poorest on the planet. It was a country where desperate Afghani women routinely burned themselves alive because they were unable to feed their families or fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.
The Canadian government providing support for the formation of a government-in-exile supposedly with the goal of advancing the interests of Afghani women serves as a propaganda tool to manufacture consent for further imperial adventures in Afghanistan.
This is taking place even as Canada’s involvement in the 12-year long war in Afghanistan cost the lives of 153 Canadian soldiers and a large chunk of its treasury, and caused many veterans from the Afghanistan war to suffer from PTSD.
CCAP: A tool of Canadian foreign policy, indirectly supported by Canada’s government
This article focuses on one aspect of the role of the Trudeau government as an enabler of further regime change in Afghanistan through financially supporting the Afghan Youth Engagement and Development Initiative (AYEDI), which founded and heads up the Canadian Campaign for Afghan Peace (CCAP).
AYEDI does not specifically receive financial support from the government for the CCAP campaign. Yet, a group like AYEDI gets fundraising because the Canadian government knows that they will do useful work in local communities, but at its core, when a geopolitical crisis occurs these groups will serve a key function. That is, since the majority of leaders and members of this funded group will have ingrained political stances which mesh with mainstream political thought in Canada. That will lead the group to take positions and do the types of campaigns which are useful to the government. These actions will allow the government to act as if overwhelming domestic pressure led them to take these foreign policy decisions. In reality of course, the decision is being taken to maintain Western geopolitical interests.
CCAP, headed up by AYEDI, masquerades as a non-governmental organization (NGO) supposedly reflecting the wishes of Canadian civil society in respect to Afghanistan. In fact, it is part of the transmission belt for manufacturing consent for the continuing US imperial designs upon Afghanistan, which are developed in the US State Department, adopted by the Canadian government, and then circulated in Canadian society by NGO’s such as CCAP. In this way, CCAP is very much like the NGO’s, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which shilled for the war on, and occupation of, Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021, based on the fallacy that the occupation was good for Afghani women. CCAP permits the Canadian government to make it appear that its support for US foreign policy aims in Central Asia is the result of a grassroots movement.
During the 2021 federal election, the CCAP sought to make the supposed threat of human rights violations under the Taliban a key foreign policy issue by drafting an Open Letter to the Canadian government. This Open Letter called for the Canadian government, which it claims to be a supposed “global leader” in promoting peace and women’s rights to:
Expand the resettlement program for Afghan refugees;
Provide immediate humanitarian assistance and aid:
Use diplomacy to ensure that human rights and minority rights are respected by the Taliban government.
CCAP Whitewashes the American-led occupation of Afghanistan
While many of the goals of the CCAP look altruistic on the surface, a closer look at the organization reveals far more problematic stances. One of these is the whitewashing of the US occupation. The CCAP presents the 20-year US occupation of Afghanistan as a time of progress towards democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, rule of law, and improvements in the status of women, all of which were supposedly threatened by the seizure of power by the Taliban. The Canadian role in upholding this occupation was highlighted as a positive influence in the CCAP’s Open Letter, claiming that Canada had played a significant role in supposedly facilitating democratic construction in Afghanistan.
A Short History lesson
This presentation of the US-led occupation as an era of progress towards democracy and greater prosperity couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the two-decade-long, US/NATO occupation was merely one chapter in the US empire’s half-century of meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
In 1973, a socialist government came to power in Kabul which renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan; undertook land and marriage reform; improved the status of women; outlawed discrimination against the historically downtrodden Hazara, a Shiite minority; and undertook reforms to provide universal free education, medical care, sanitation, and affordable housing.
True to form, the US responded to this development just as it did to the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua a few years later. It openly created an armed opposition with the intention of overthrowing the revolutionary government and restoring more compliant despots to power. In his book, The Management of Savagery, Max Blumenthal describes in great detail how the USA, aided by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, created both Al Qaeda and the Taliban as proxies to secure hegemony in Central Asia. US advisors such as Zbigniew Brerzinski viewed Afghanistan as ideally situated to be a base for action against perceived rivals in Russia and China, and sought to push the Soviets into “its own VIetnam War.” (page 11, Management of Savagery)
As a result of the US’ creation of jihadist armies to serve as proxies, the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan at the behest of the Republic of Afghanistan and kept its troops there until 1989, shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. Shortly after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR, the government of Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah collapsed in Kabul in 1992 and a civil war ensued that saw the coming to power of the Taliban in 1996. Initially, the Taliban was supported by the US until a dispute arose over the proposed building of a US-owned, Unocal pipeline through the country to break the Iranian and Russian monopoly over the shipment of Central Asian oil.
When the Taliban chose instead an Argentinian company to build the pipeline, the US decided to replace the Taliban with a more compliant ally. The September 11 attacks provided a pretext for the USA to supply a broad list of demands deliberately framed to be unacceptable for the Taliban government, including the extradition of Osama bin Laden. When the Taliban’s counter-offer was deemed to be unacceptable, the US invaded Afghanistan with the support of its NATO partners, including Canada, but without the approval of the UN Security Council. This meant the invasion was illegal under the UN Charter and international law. However, the US later presumed upon the Security Council to pass Resolution 1378 belatedly “legitimizing” the US-led occupation.
Features of the US/NATO Occupation
The US-led occupation, which began in 2001, was supported by successive Canadian governments. It was mired in corruption, extreme poverty, and violent atrocities carried out by occupation forces against anyone suspected of opposing the illegal foreign occupation. Opium production, which had been virtually eliminated by the Taliban, was allowed to flourish, and grew to unprecedented levels, consequently fueling a global opioid crisis and providing billions of dollars annually to a system of drug lords tied to Afghan opium production.
A corrupt political system was set up whereby the CIA doled out cash to various politicians, warlords, and drug lords in the country to buy their support. A key result of this arrangement was contracts being given freely to US businesses, many of whom charged fees significantly higher than their expenditures inside Afghanistan. In addition, there was scant funding for improving infrastructure or education. As a consequence, only 35% of the Afghan population ever had access to electricity, and half of the country remained in poverty; the poverty being more visibly seen in northern provinces such as Badakhshan, which suffered from poverty rates as high as 60%.
Afghanis were also terrorized during the US/NATO occupation by CIA-organized death squads that were operating in Afghanistan since before 9/11. These death squads conducted raids on villages based on denunciations against anyone suspected of aiding the Taliban, raids that often resulted in summary executions and the burning down of homes. According to a report by the UN Mission in Afghanistan for 2018, CIA-organized death squads killed as many civilians as the local Afghan forces combined. It has been estimated that since 2001, 241,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan, including more than 71,000 civilians.
Even following the chaotic withdrawal of US forces following the seizure of power by the Taliban, the US has sought to keep Afghanistan underdeveloped and in perpetual turmoil. The US illegally froze $9.5 billion dollars of Afghani money in order to prevent Afghanistan from accessing any funds that could be used for rebuilding. This creates a situation where Afghanistan is in constant need for foreign aid, which the US could take advantage of, either through backing a group more compliant with American interests to take power in the instability, or by using gunboat diplomacy to pressure the Taliban to acquiesce to US demands. None of this was discussed by the CCAP, which correlates, in its September 25th report, extreme poverty in Afghanistan with an imminent Taliban victory, despite the fact that four decades of US-instigated war, combined with the freezing of assets and the rampant corruption during the US/NATO occupation played a huge role in Afghanistan’s underdevelopment.
On October 9, 2021, Newsclick reported that the US State Department was seeking talks in Doha with regards to extending aid and recognition to the Taliban. The first meeting between US officials and the Taliban in Doha occurred on October 11, with another meeting scheduled for early December. During the October 11 meeting, the US stressed that, in exchange for diplomatic recognition, it would “judge the Taliban by their actions, not their words”, an indication that the US was willing to work with the Taliban as long as the latter upholds US interests in the region.
Canada both supported with military force and was complicit in many of the atrocities carried out by the US/NATO occupation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan witnessed Canada’s biggest deployment of military force since World War II, with $20 billion spent on military and aid operations in Afghanistan and more than 40,000 Canadian troops deployed between 2001 and 2014. On numerous occasions, Canadian armed forces were reported in the media to have committed war crimes such as killing and wounding civilians while on patrol, using white phosphorus, and participating in night-raids on homes of those suspected of supporting the Taliban. Individuals, including children, were captured by the Canadian army were turned over to the Afghan army and prison system, where they were routinely tortured and even raped. The Canadian government had even tried to suppress these inconvenient truths, with former prime minister Stephen Harper proroguing Parliament in 2008 to stifle inquiries into the treatment of Afghan detainees.
None of these inconvenient facts were ever highlighted by the CCAP campaign, which whitewashes the occupation as a one-sided triumph for democracy.
CCAP ignores future role of regional geopolitical forces
The CCAP also distorts current conditions in Afghanistan. An example of this distortion can be seen in their campaign launch letter, which warned that the Taliban would be untrustworthy when it came to human rights and would seek to immediately launch genocidal reprisals upon its enemies upon its ascent to power. In practice, however, since its takeover, this has not been the case.
While the pre-2001 Taliban was not a progressive force, regional geopolitical actors, such as China, Russia, and Iran, have played a key role in pressuring the Taliban to moderate its reactionary stances in the present-day, while facilitating economic aid to Afghanistan which does not undermine its sovereignty. Chinese aid in particular is in stark contrast to the strings-tied IMF (International Monetary Fund) aid advanced by the US and its allies that packaged aid with “structural adjustments” requirements for privatizations of public institutions or services on the part of recipient countries. These regional offers of aid, which have had a degree of success, have been ignored in the West in order to paint a distorted picture of Afghanistan under imminent threat of massive human rights violations, which, in turn, supposedly “justifies” further intervention.
For some time, instability within Afghanistan has been a major barrier towards China’s ability to expand the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) throughout the war-torn region. This is because the conflict within Afghanistan deterred Chinese investors from setting up infrastructure projects associated with the BRI. In addition, an Afghan government fostering good relations with all of its neighbours was also required. It appears that Chinese, Russian, and Iranian influence may persuade the newly-resurgent Taliban need to dial down its reactionary social policies and anti-Hazara policies that defined its previous time in power and end its support of terrorist organizations such as the East Turkestan Independence Movement, perceived by China and other Shanghai Cooperation Organization members, such as Tajikistan, to be a potentially destabilizing force in Central Asia and the Xinjiang province of China.
In order to facilitate a stable Afghanistan favorable to Belt and Road Initiative (explained here) investment, Chinese officials have been meeting with the Taliban leadership to ensure a lasting peace in Afghanistan. On July 28, 2021, in the Chinese city of Tianjin, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The meeting saw Baradar pledging to ensure that no extremist group uses Afghanistan’s borders to launch attacks on China and other neighboring countries.
The leadership of the Taliban has also expressed interest in the Belt and Road Initiative, seeing it as vital to reconstruction in Afghanistan. This was evident in an interview given by Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid to Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper. During the interview, Mujahid noted that the Belt and Road Initiative was the Taliban’s key to accessing the global market, and also stated that China had, by that time, provided $31 million in emergency funds for Afghanistan as well as investing in mining in the country.
Responding to what the UN and the International Red Cross are describing as the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, Iran has also delivered considerable aid to Afghanistan. A fifth airlift touched down in Kabul on October 5, for example. But Iran went even further. On October 27th, Tehran hosted a meeting of representatives of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, plus Russia, aimed at coordinating efforts to restore peace and stability to the war-ravaged country.
As with Iran and China, Russia is playing a significant role. It has sent considerable humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. It also hosted an international conference, in the face of US sanctions on the Taliban government and the freezing of its US bank accounts, calling for a UN donor conference to deal with Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis.
Chinese efforts to facilitate stability in Afghanistan seem to be making some headway and can be observed in the surprisingly rational and moderate manner in which the Taliban has governed since its seizure of Kabul. For instance, while the Taliban’s initial rule in the 1990’s over Afghanistan had resulted in the total banning of women from education, work, and even from leaving home without a male escort, these ultra-reactionary stances seem to have been softened to a degree.
Today, Afghan girls can attend girls-only schools up to the sixth grade. Afghan women no longer are required to don the burka in public. All of this runs contrary to CCAP claims in its September 25 report that the Taliban would immediately re-assert ultra-reactionary policies. In addition, the Taliban has also ceased its support for the East Turkestan Independence Movement under Chinese pressure. This both weakens US-aligned forces in Xinjiang seeking to destabilize the region and gives China room to expand the Belt and Road initiative through countries such as Afghanistan.
More recently, China has played a role in delivering humanitarian aid such as blankets and cotton-padded clothing to Afghanistan, as well as food supplies such as flatbread, milk tea, powder, and 5000 tons of grain. Three million doses of China’s COVID vaccines were also delivered. The aid delivered to Afghanistan follows through on China’s promise to deliver 200 million yuan worth of emergency humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan.
From the geopolitical situation surrounding Afghanistan, it can be seen that the Taliban, while clearly far from angels, were influenced by China and other regional powers to wind down its more reactionary policies and end its support for extremist groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. By these means, the Taliban clearly hopes to re-enter the global marketplace.
These geopolitical developments were ignored by the CCAP. Rather than call on Canada to work with China, Russia, and Iran to help stabilize and rebuild the region, the CCAP cheers on Canada’s decision not to recognize the new Afghan government. Instead, it calls on Canada, in its September report, instead to exert pressure on the new Afghan government to adhere to human rights in exchange for humanitarian aid such as vaccines, food and clothing; all things that are being obtained by Afghanistan through trade with China and the other countries in the SCO without having to enter into sovereignty-eroding deals with the West. While the situation is evolving into yet another move toward multi polarity against the rapidly weakening US-led unipolar world domination, Canada sides with the US.
Feminist spin on a regime change effort
With the arrival of the parallel Afghan parliament to Canada, the Trudeau government will not just host one, but now two female-led governments in exile. It also hosts the government-in-exile of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, in opposition to the Lukashenko government of Belarus, which the Canadian government, as a member of NATO, targets for regime change.
Trudeau’s support for the Afghani parallel parliament puts a “feminist” spin on efforts to re-impose imperialism on Afghanistan as a junior partner for US imperialism. However, there is nothing feminist about a foreign policy that deliberately creates hunger and uncertainty for women and children in Afghanistan, Venezuela, Palestine, Haiti, and many other places where the Canadian government meddles in the interests of both the US empire and its own companies.
Canadians opposed to the attempt to re-impose US imperialism on Afghanistan and its use of the country as a flashpoint to create a new cold war against China, should oppose the Canadian government’s promotion of groups such as the CCAP and the Afghan “parallel parliament.” We should demand that Canada repair the damage it caused by cooperating with China, Russia, Iran, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries, to rebuild the region rather than plunge it into further bloodshed. It’s necessary to call for a long-overdue re-assessment of Canadian foreign policy away from our current role as a willing accomplice in the plunder of the world, which serves to benefit the Canadian and American ruling classes.
Posted Dec. 11, 2021