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Kabul and Port-au-Prince

Published Jan 24, 2010 8:29 PM

With most media focusing on Haiti and people here in the U.S. gripped by the humanitarian crisis, they may have missed the dramatic news out of Afghanistan. Even as thousands of U.S. troops were landing in Port-au-Prince, Afghan resistance fighters carried out a coordinated attack in the heart of occupied Kabul, the Afghan capital, hitting targets near the central bank; the ministries of finance, justice and mines; the entrance to the presidential palace; and the luxury Serena hotel, where people from the NATO countries stay. They also took over part of the Ferushgah shopping center.

The Jan. 18 Wall Street Journal reported that the resistance fighters ordered vendors and customers to leave Ferushgah mall “in an apparent attempt to minimize civilian casualties.” Speaking of the assault, Afghan parliament member Daud Sultanzoi said, “To be able to infiltrate at such depth, into the inner periphery of power here, is a mind-blowing achievement” for the resistance.

Some of the fighters died blowing themselves up while attacking the puppet government. They all were ready to die if necessary.

This all says a lot about the Afghan resistance. It is careful of its relationship with the Afghan population, even in central Kabul. When the Taliban was in power in 2001, it was an obscure organization with a program unpopular in much of Afghanistan. Now, after nine years of U.S.-NATO occupation, it appears to have transformed into a serious anti-imperialist fighting force.

Whatever they feel toward the Taliban, most Afghans look upon the resistance as being their own side. The U.S. and other NATO troops are foreign invaders, threatening their culture, their religion, their lives and those of their families. Many Afghans are prepared to make every sacrifice to drive out the foreign occupiers.

Afghans don’t believe the U.S. is there to help them. Afghan women don’t believe the Western troops are there to defend women’s rights — one “humanitarian” pretext for the 2001 invasion. They don’t believe the U.S. is there to suppress the heroin trade — it’s more likely that U.S. banks are the final depositing place of most heroin profits. They even suspect Washington may not be that serious about eliminating al-Qaida.

The more believable reason for the escalated U.S. occupation is that it aims at setting up permanent military bases in the region to maintain and increase U.S. corporate control of the energy resources of Central and West Asia. Such a reason is consistent with the Pentagon’s worldwide role — in Afghanistan, in Iraq, from Africa to Latin America. The role of the U.S. Armed Forces is to defend and expand U.S. strategic power and with it the profits of U.S.-based banks and corporations.

Now consider Port-au-Prince. The need to aid Haiti to recover from the earthquake that has brought such horror to its victims and survivors serves an ulterior purpose: It is a pretext for a renewed and escalated U.S. military intervention.

Whatever “humanitarian” acts Marines and Airborne Infantry perform are a cover for re-establishing a repressive force in Haiti that had disintegrated with the earthquake. The Haitian police force has disappeared. The MINUSTAH force — the U.N. occupation army for the past five years, playing the role of the repressive state against the Haitian population — was hit hard by the earthquake.

Washington had no problem letting a few days go by without rushing in food and water. But the U.S. is in a rush to bring in troops. Indeed, the U.S. wants control of Haiti in its own hands, no longer trusting a U.N. or Brazilian intermediary.

The presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua, who are well aware of the role and threat of the U.S. military in Latin America, are right to add their voices to those warning of the U.S. military’s role in Haiti.

The corporate media’s handling of news from Haiti also exposes Washington’s real aims. They present the desperate acts of Haitians trying to feed themselves and their families as “looting.” Instead of trying to get food and water into the survivor’s hands as quickly as possible, the U.S.-run apparatus uses the alleged “chaos” as an excuse to send more troops. What Washington fears most is that the Haitian people, organizing themselves for survival, may set up a structure that competes with the repressive state.

It is important that people here in the U.S. who are in solidarity with the Haitians remain aware that the Pentagon’s role is not to aid Haiti, but to occupy the country and suppress the population. The demand should be the same as in Afghanistan: aid and reparations yes, occupation no.