Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Guest Post: "The future will be even worse than the past."

Afghan Women Doomed If NATO Leaves.

by Lauryn Oates.

This week, the now well-known ousted Afghan MP Malalai Joya will kick off her latest speaking tour of Canada. Joya's message is that Canada is part of a hostile occupying force in her country. As Joya and her antiwar sponsors disseminate that message, it will be important to seek out the views of other Afghan women, who live in Afghanistan and fight for reforms there.

(Breaking: Taliban representatives and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have begun secret, high level talks.)

As the "troops out" organization, Code Pink, learned last year when it met with women leaders in Kabul, most have no interest in seeing NATO's departure any time soon. These women want peace and they know a premature exit by international forces will not lead to the end of violence, but will swiftly usher in more repression, particularly for women.

Similarly, ordinary citizens generally do not support a withdrawal of foreign troops at present. In a 2010 ABC News poll, only four per cent of Afghans said they would prefer a Taliban government. In a Gallup poll last year, 80 per cent said the Taliban were a negative influence on their country, and a 2009 BBC poll found that Afghans saw the Taliban as the greatest danger to their country.

When asked to rate NATO's work in Afghanistan, 69 per cent responded "excellent," "good" or "fair" in 2009. The same number also said it was "very good" or "mostly good" that U.S. forces came into their country.

Many leaders of the women's movement and women members of parliament echo the polls' findings, and posit constructive recommendations for moving forward. Their voices should be heard by Canadians.

Dr. Sima Simar, the courageous chair of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, is succinct in her expectations of the international community: "Finish the job you started. It's about the protection of humanity. This is a human responsibility. It isn't possible to escape this kind of responsibility."

Horia Mosadiq, an Afghan researcher for Amnesty International, articulates what that "job" should resemble: "Instead of a meaningless focus on how many Taliban are killed or how many villages are cleared, international forces should measure their success by clear benchmarks in terms of how they've improved human rights. Are more women in Helmand able to get health care? Are more children able to attend school?"

Recently, Afghan Suraya Pakzad, named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010 by Time magazine, called a potential U.S. military pullout "devastating," adding it "would mean more girls enduring more horrors."

Fatima Gailani, president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, said in an interview that she was worried about Americans growing weary of the war in her homeland: "Tomorrow, I don't want to wake up and open my eyes and you are not there. It's really scary."

Masooda Jalal, who made history when she ran against Hamid Karzai as the only woman among 17 presidential candidates, said in October 2009, "It is good for Afghanistan to have more troops . . . committed with the aim of building peace and against war, terrorism, and security -- along with other resources."

Shinkai Kaokhail, an outspoken women's rights activist and a member of parliament for Kabul, adds, "In the current situation of terrorism, we cannot say troops should be withdrawn," adding, "international troop presence here is a guarantee for my safety."

Jamila Afghani, executive director of the Noor Education Centre and a veteran women's rights campaigner, told me in February, "If the military left, it would be very dangerous. If they have a proper strategy to replace themselves, OK, but without a strategy, they might as well walk out right now. There is a Taliban revival and terrorist revival going on. The future will be even worse than the past, so I don't suggest they should leave. Or if they leave, we should be satisfied before they go."

Manizha Naderi, who runs shelters for Afghan women fleeing domestic abuse and leads legal advocacy work through Women for Afghan Women, has said, "If the coalition forces leave, the Taliban or other conservative factions will be much stronger. Women's mobility and participation in everyday life will be limited again."

During the Kabul Conference in July, MP Shukria Barakzai saw increasing signs of the deteriorating commitment of the international community, saying to journalist Chris Sands, it's "like the last drop of the water just fell down" . . . "Until a few months ago I was optimistic, maybe, maybe, maybe. But right now there is no hope." She added, "In a year's time, it will be like a civil war."

MP Fawzia Koofi, added, "We thought we were working in a longer-term partnership with the international community. We really wanted to have a joint partnership with them and now they are leaving. There are talks about leaving (but) I think the train has left the station" also saying, "even in two years' time, I think Afghanistan will be Talibanized, not in terms of individuals, but in terms of ideology. And then all these outspoken women, and media and the young generation of Afghanistan will have a much more tough, difficult life."

Laila (pseudonym), posted the following to a listserve in response to Joya's call for withdrawal of all troops: "She needs to understand that her country that she hardly visited in the past years is so vulnerable and fragile that once 'left' by international troops, her countrymen and women will be terribly lashed out (at) by the Taliban -- and another civil war will eventually or rapidly erupt. So her patriotism is really inviting more misery to the women and the people of Afghanistan. However, I agree that huge mistakes have been done by international community as well that a strong Afghan government would be able to improve the situation."

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan has worked for nearly 15 years to improve human rights, to end women's oppression, and to provide opportunities for Afghan women to live their lives with dignity, certainty and purpose. For the realization of these goals, the international community including military, developmental and diplomatic entities, must stay the course, but with a paradigm shift that dramatically improves security, escalates development, changes tactics, champions human rights, and vigorously addresses corruption in government and in the aid community.

It's not time to give up. Canadians can honour the brave struggle of Afghan women by listening to those women on the front lines of a very uphill battle for human rights.

For now, they are saying we should stay.

Lauryn Oates is a Canadian aid worker managing education projects in Afghanistan. Lauryn is a founding member of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee and projects director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.


Blogger Kaffir_Kanuck said...

This place is a mess. ANA troops, which are supposed to take over security are years away from being able to do the job, if they ever develop a sense of wanting to in the first place. The entire culture, which will not change in one, let alone three generations isn’t conducive to allowing what Malalai Joya wishes.

Why should it be our problem? Why should the West have to pay for Afghan’s security, and if it does, what do we get in return? Will our goodwill be reciprocated?

Every day I have to hit the dirt because of another rocket attack and then cool my heels in a bunker until the all clear sounds, the last thought in my mind is not about how the women here will be doomed when I leave.

The best thing that could happen to the women and children here would be to evacuate them all to western nations and leave the Afghan men behind to bugger and kill each other until their numbers dwindle to the point where the women can come back and impose their newfound will.

A fantasy? Indeed. So is the belief that NATO can turn this misogynistic keptocracy around in any time frame, let it be a year or one hundred. We’re wasting our time here.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Kaffir_Kanuck said...

that should be, "every day 'when' I have to hit the dirt...

4:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Devine said...

Well said Kaffir. For some reason a lot of people think they can fashion some sort of democracy for that place. It is not going to happen. It is an Islamic country, they want to remain Islamic and Islam and democracy are not compatible. I was one of the those that thought we would make a difference over there when we fist deployed. I have since learned enough about Muslins and Islam that I believe that the odds of that happening are worse than winning the 6/49 lotto.
I believe we should bring our troops home yesterday and let those people solve their own problems their own way.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Relevant in light of the previous comment:


10:40 AM  
Blogger Graeme said...

In all seriousness though, Bob, maybe you could tell us, since you've "learned enough about Muslins (sic) and Islam" why so many Afghans went to the polls despite very real threats of violence and death if "Islam and democracy are not compatible"?

11:57 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

I'm certain the faux anti-war crowd will find a way to blame the West for the Taliban bloodbath that is sure to follow a pullout.

Excellent article, Lauryn. Should open the eyes of all but those who will not see.

12:27 PM  
Blogger dmurrell said...

The pro-Taliban MSM, after the next genocide (when the Taliban takes over), will definately defend the Taliban, and will blame Western nations, for the upcoming bloodbath. Part of the deceit will be ideological -- after all the MSM support authoritarian Islamism and hate democracy. But part will be spurred by support of Obama: it will be Obama's fault for ordering troops to leave, and the MSM support Obama at any cost.

Remember William Shawcross. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, for his book Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the destruction of Cambodia (1979). The book blamed the west (the U.S.) for the Cambodian genocide, where about 1.3-million were murdered. His book of lies won plaudits from the pro-totalitarian MSM.

Later, Shawcross wrote The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust and Modern Conscience (1984), awarded the Freedom From Hunger Media Award. This book blamed the genocide on the Cambodian communists -- as as a result the book was heavily criticized by the liberal MSM.

Commentary Magazine publsihed a good article mentioning that the liberal MSM denied the Cambodian genocide for the longest time -- out of support for the Khmer Rouge. This will happen again, since the MSM -- like the Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith -- support Taliban attrocities.

2:03 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

DMurrell: Where do you get off talking this garbage. Provide evidence that the MSM (i.e., CBC, globe and mail, etc etc) support the taliban and islamic fundamentalism and "hate democracy". You can't. Stop spewing sh*t.

Terry: This is like Ahmed et al in reverse.

7:34 PM  
Blogger dmurrell said...

You call on me to show how the MSM support totalitarianism, and you call on me to give evidence for my post above. But I did.

The G&M's Graeme Smith wrote article after article for the G&M, when he was Afghanistan bureau chief, empathizing with the Taliban. He celebrated small-scale "victories". In one article, he regurgitated the Taliban claim, to extend Afghanistan's boundaries eastward to take in Paksitan's western provinces -- so that the Taliban would have contiguous control over a large area.

I mentioned William Shawcross, blaming the West for the Cambodian genocide. The MSM showered him with adulation -- just like the liberal MSM for a few years denied the genocide. I personally was involved with the 1960s protests against the Vietnam war. So I took an interest in the post-war Cambodian genocide. Yet media reports of the genocide were sketchy. And needless to say, no one in Western leftist circles protested the genocide.

Finally, as support to my contention, look at the MSM's antipathy against Israel. The corporate media support Hamas and Hezbollah -- two faacistic organizations. Part of the anti-Israel sentiment in the MSM stems from its Western, democratic values. Look at the anti-democratic incidents of Jews on campus being shouted down. The left-fascistic methods of shouting down Jews at universities dovetails with the left's support for fascism overseas, such as the regimes in Iran and Syria.

Finally, the Toronto-based corporate media support totalitarianism in China. Prime Minister Harper was villified in the G&M for supporting human rights in China. A year or two ago Harper backed down -- and the villifaction of his now China-tolerant stance has stopped.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Kaffir_Kanuck said...

Another correction, that should be "...allowing what 'Lauryn Oates' wishes."


'Malalai Joya'

2:47 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Oh I see. One reporter from the globe and mail, another writer (shawcross) and from that you conflate and extrapolate the attitude of the entire mainstream media. Nor do I recall the MSM covering up for the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Many on the left did, but what that has to do with the MSM is beyond me, other than that a few (tiny minority) of reporters might adhere to such views (disclosure: I worked as an editor for major Canadian dailies for 10 years.)
As for Israel/Palestine, it's nonsensical in the extreme to maintain that the mainstream media is "supportive of Hezbollah and Hamas." The MSM may be more critical of Israel than you or I may like, but that hardly makes them Hez/Ham supporters. You are talking out your hat.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:01 PM  

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