Thursday, March 23, 2006

Afghanistan: this is change?

A Christian is scheduled for execution in Afghanistan. His crime? To have converted from Islam to Christianity: apostasy isn't something Muslims take too lightly it would appear. Under what law? Under Sharia law, which in Afghanistan overrides common law...

So what's changed in Afghanistan? Probably far less than the Coalition anticipated when they invaded the country in search of bin Laden and his band of al-Qaeda guerrillas and pledged to bring democratisation to that part of the world as well.

The president Hamid Karzai is dubbed the mayor of Kabul, as this appears to be the only part of the country where he has control. Feudal warlords, ex-Taliban and new Taliban rule much of the rest of this fledgling democracy.

And this democracy is still largely ruled according to theocratic principles, depite the democratic elections...

Across the border in the Waziristan area of Pakistan, Pakistani Taliban are taking control of areas bordering with the Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Afghanistani/Pakistani relations are at all time low, it would appear.

The West needs once more to ask itself: what is being achieved with this "march of freedom"? The failing project of Iraq and the far from perfect situation in Afghanistan which so far remain the sole divident of two hugely expensive operations, both in terms of cost and human lives... The fact that the Israel/Palestine question remains further away from the agenda than it has been for quite a long time...

Right now what seems to have been achieved is that the West's War on Terror is perceived by many Muslims worldwide as nothing but another Crusade by Christian forces, thereby fuelling further radicalisation and potential Islamic terrorism. A recent offer for a long term truce by bin Laden was flatly rejected by the "freedom spreaders".

These, then, are the dividends from the War on Terror as I see them:

  • A fragmented Iraq, riddled with insurgents, al-Qaeda elements that previously didn't operate there and a sputtering reconstruction effort

  • A similar and worsening situation in Afghanistan

  • Increased Muslim anger at what's perceived as bullying tactics and an assault on Islam

  • Increased probability of terrorist attacks against the West

  • Sacrifices of civil liberties and freedom of expression in the name of National Security

  • Thanks Mr Bush and Mr Blair, but you can stop now, you know... We've had enough...

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