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How 'liberation' has brought anarchy to Kabul,
and now history is repeated in Baghdad

By Robert Fisk

The Independent
02 July 2003

So security is the problem in Afghanistan, is it? Who would
have believed it? Those freedom-loving Afghans feel no more
liberated than their Iraqi brothers 1,200 miles further
west, it seems.

For Fallujah, read Kandahar. For Baghdad, read Kabul. Jack
Straw visits Kandahar and what happens just before this
expert on weapons of mass destruction arrives? Someone tries
to blow up a local mosque, wounding 16 people, four of them
seriously. Turns out the Imam, Mawlavi Abdullah Fayaz, had
condemned the Taliban's interpretation of Islam. Those pesky
Taliban "remnants" - always "remnants", mark you - strike
again. But it's much more serious than this.

Afghanistan was "liberated" by Mr Straw's government and
that of George Bush. And now it's in a state of anarchy.
Then Iraq was "liberated" by Mr Straw's government and that
of George Bush. And now it too is in a state of anarchy and
increasing guerrilla insurrection. What on earth did Mr
Straw learn in Kandahar?

With Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan's loquacious Foreign
Minister, he talked about security, reconstruction and - of
course - opium. But according to the United Nations,
Afghanistan is once more the world's top opium exporter. And
narcotics production goes hand-in-hand with lawlessness.

So what does Mr Straw tell his hosts in Afghanistan? "As in
any other country, security must lie in the hands of the
people. At the end, we can do what we can, but it's both
your responsibility and your duty."

Mr Fayaz saw the waistcoat in the mosque - the waistcoat
covering the bomb - just before it exploded. He was head of
the local council of ulema (Muslim scholars) who have
supported the government of Hamid Karzai. So he became a

Yet the one demand almost all Afghans make - that
international troops should be deployed in other cities, not
just in Kabul, and hoover up the millions of rifles and
rocket-propelled grenades - is denied them by the United
States (and, of course, therefore by Britain). Why?
The Americans are keen to confiscate weapons in
Iraq. Why not in Afghanistan as well?

Well, most Afghans have a shrewd idea of the answer. The
Americans know that al-Qa'ida is re-forming in Afghanistan,
that they are doing so around the Taliban and that the
"Allied success" (aka George Bush) and "victory" (aka Tony
Blair) is beginning to look more and more like a disaster.

So the Americans are buying the local tribes to fight the
Taliban, just as they bought the Northern Alliance with
millions of dollars in 2001 to fight the Taliban. And the
tribes don't want to be disarmed and made amenable
to Kabul.

So these tribal warlords have no interest in the kind of
"security" about which Mr Straw was talking. They want
personal power; and as long as the Americans are in
Afghanistan they will have it.

And Mr Straw is indeed very worried about "security". Tell
this, as they say, to the Afghans.

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd