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War on Terror (07 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Afghanistan’s Lies, Myths and Legends – Concluding Part



By Andre Vltchek

August 3, 2017

A son of the super elite Afghan ‘exiles’ living in London, once ‘shouted’ at me, via WhatsApp, after I dared to criticize one of the officially-recognized gurus of the Western anti-communist left, who happened to be his religiously admired deity:

“I’m completely amazed that you’d do such a thing. Then again, you’re Russian… And Russians held a strange superiority complex about dominating the whole Asian & African continents – even when nobody invited or asked them to. Historical examples are plenty… Don’t go to a country to report about what’s actually going on when you can’t even speak the language!”

This was his tough verdict on Russia and on my work; a verdict of ‘Afghan man in London’, who never even touched work in his entire life, being fully sustained by his morally corrupted family. He never travelled much, except when his father took him on one of the official diplomatic visits. He has been drinking, taking drugs and hating everything that fights, that defies the Empire. From President Duterte in the Philippines, to Maduro in Venezuela, and Assad in Syria. After he was taken out of Afghanistan at an extremely early age, he never set foot on its soil.

All of his knowledge was accumulated ‘second-hand’, but he is quick to pass endless moral judgments, and he is actually taken seriously by one of the most influential and famous ‘opposition’ figures in the West. It is because he is an Afghan, after all, and because he has a perfect English accent, and his ‘conclusions’ are ‘reasonable’, at least to some extent acceptable by the regime, and therefore trustworthy. He and others like him know perfectly well when to administer the required dose of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian sentiments, or when to choose well-tolerated anarcho-syndicalism over true revolutionary fervour.

Again in London, a lady from an Afghan diplomatic circle, who still takes pride in being somehow left-leaning (despite her recent history of serving the West), recalled with nostalgia and boasting pride:

“Once when I got sick, I travelled with my husband from Kabul to Prague, for medical treatment. It was in 80’s, and we took with us 5,000 dollars. You know, in those days in Czechoslovakia this was so much money! Our friends there never saw so much cash in their lives. We really had great time there.”

I listened politely and thought: ‘Damn, in those days, my two Czech uncles were building sugar mills, steel factories and turbines for developing countries like Syria, Egypt, Lebanon. I’m not sure whether they also worked in Afghanistan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. It was their internationalist duty and they were hardly making US$500 per month. The salary of my father, a leading nuclear scientist, who was in charge of the safety of VVR power plant reactors, was at that time (and at the real exchange) well under US$200 a month. These were very honest, hard-working people, doing their duty towards humanity. And then someone came from Kabul, from the capital of one of the poorest countries in Asia, recipient of aid and internationalist help from basically all Soviet Bloc countries, and blows 5.000 bob in just a few days!’

In those days, socialist Czechoslovakia was helping intensively, various revolutionary and anti-colonialist movements, all over the world. Even Ernesto Che Guevara was treated there, between his campaign in Congo, and his final engagement in Bolivia.

But the lady did not finish, yet:

“Once we crossed the border and travelled to the Soviet Union by land. You cannot imagine the misery we encountered in the villages, across the border! Life was much tougher there than on our side. Of course Moscow was different: Moscow was the capital, full of lights, truly impressive…”

Was that really so? Or was this official narrative that has been injected through the treasonous elites into the psyche of both Afghans and foreigners?

I listened, politely. I like stories, no matter from which direction they are coming. I took mental notes.

Then, back in Afghanistan, I asked Mr. Shakar Karimi point blank:

“You were travelling back and forth, between Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union. Was life in the Afghan countryside better than in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan?”

He stared at me, shocked. When my question finally fully sank into his brain, he began laughing:

“Soviet villages were so much richer; there could not be any comparison. They had all necessary facilities there, from electricity to water, schools and medical posts, even public transportation: either train or at least a bus. No one could deny this, unless they’d be totally blind or someone would pay them not to see! Of course Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, was totally different story: it was a huge and very important Soviet city, with theatres, museums, parks, hospitals and universities. But even the villages were, for us, shockingly wealthy. Culture at both sides of the border was, however, similar. And while the Soviets were engaged here in Afghanistan, things began developing at our side of the border, too.”

But who would listen to Mr. Shakar Karimi from Pole Charkhi Village, on the outskirts of Kabul. He hardly spoke English, and he had no idea how to be diplomatic and ‘acceptable’ to Londoners or New Yorkers. And what he was saying was not what was expected from the Afghans to say.

During my previous trip to Afghanistan, over the phone from Kabul, I suggested to my friend, another ‘elite’ Afghan exile, that the next time she should come with me, at least for a few days, in order to reconnect, to breath the air of the city that she has been claiming she missed so desperately, for so many years. Reply was curt, but somehow predictable:

“Me, coming back like this; incognito? You don’t understand, my family is so important! When I finally go back, it will be a big, big deal!”

It is very strange, but Afghans that I know from Afghanistan are totally different from those I meet in Europe and North America. So are Afghans who are going back, regularly, to their beloved country, and who are ‘connected’, even engaged.

In Rome, I met Afghan Princess Soraya. I was invited to Italy by several left-wing MP’s representing 5 Stelli (‘5 Star Movement’) and during our lunch together, when learning about my engagement in Afghanistan, they exclaimed: “You have to meet ‘our’ Afghan Princess!”

They called her on a mobile phone. She was in her 60s, but immediately she jumped on her bicycle and pedalled to the Parliament area in order to meet me. She was shockingly unpretentious, and endlessly kind. With her, nothing was a ‘big deal’. “Come meet me in the evening in the old Jewish Ghetto,” she suggested. “There will be an opening of a very interesting art exhibition there, in one of the galleries.”

We met again, in the evening. She was very critical of the occupation of her country by the NATO forces. She had no fear, nothing to hide. She had no need to play political games.

“I’m going back to Kandahar, in couple of weeks. Please let me know when you are going back to my country. I’ll arrange things for you. We’ll show you around Kandahar.”

***

In the meantime, I got used to Afghanistan; to its terrain, its stunning beauty, to its bitter cold in the winter and stifling heat of the summers, to its curtness, its exaggerated politeness and even to its hardly bearable roughness, which always surfaces at least once in a while. But I never got used to all of those upper-class ‘refugees’, people who have left Afghanistan permanently; to those who later betrayed, and then betrayed again, spreading false information about their country, serving Western media/propaganda outlets or as diplomats of the puppet state abroad, making a lucrative living out of their treason and out of the misery of their own people. I don’t think that I will ever get used to them. In a way, they are even worse than NATO, or at least equally as bad, and more deadly and venomous than the Taliban.

There are many ways how one can betray his or her country. There are also countless reasons and justifications for treason. Historically, Western colonialists developed entire networks of local, “native” collaborators, all over the world. These people have been ready and willing to run down their devastated countries, on behalf of the European and later, US imperialists, in exchange for prominent positions, titles and ‘respect’. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is not an exception.

On 21 January 2010, even Kabul Press had apparently enough, and it published damning article “Afghan UN Ambassador’s $4.2 million Manhattan apartment”

(https://www.kabulpress.org/article4590.html), referring to the super-luxury residence of then Afghan UN Ambassador, Zahir Tanin:

“Among the billions of dollars being spent propping up the Karzai government are some choice bits of New York City real estate. Number 1 is a 2,400 sq. ft. 3-bedroom corner apartment in the Trump World Tower, one of the world’s most expensive addresses. It was chosen by Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who lives there with his wife.”

“According to Kabul press sources, eight other diplomats working in the Mission’s offices live about one hour away. The average rent for them is over $20,000 per month—extremely pricey even for Manhattan real estate. The previous Ambassador, Mr. Farhadi paid only $7,000 per month for all rent and expenses.”

“Other ambassadors, like Taib Jawad (Afghan Ambassador to the U.S.) are living in luxury residences, why not me?” our source quotes Tanin as saying.”

***

So many Afghans have left, many betrayed, but others are refusing to bend, remaining proud and honest.

During my previous visit to the country, I worked along the road separating the districts 3 and 5 in Kabul, photographing literally decomposing bodies of drug-users.

In June 2017 I returned, but this time I dared to film the people living under the bridges, and in deep infested hovels. Later I walked on the riverbank, trying to gain some perspective and to film from various angles.

Someone was making threatening gestures from the distance; someone else aimed a gun at me. I ducked for cover.

“Not very welcoming place, is it?” I heard loud laughter behind my back. Someone spoke perfect English.

I turned back. A well-dressed man approached me. We exchanged a few words. I explained what I was doing here and he understood immediately.

“Here is my card,” he said. Muhammad Maroof (Sarwan), Vice-President of the Duniya Construction Company,” it read. He continued:

“I came to this warehouse here to deliver my products, and I saw you filming. You’re lucky you were not hit by a bullet.”

“I want to talk,” he said, pointing his hand at the bridge. “Don’t film me, just take notes. You can quote me, even use my name.”

He explained that he used to work for the US military, as an interpreter.

Then he began speaking, clearly and coherently:

“The biggest mafias here are directly linked to both UK and US. The West lies that they want to stop trade with drugs in Afghanistan; they never will allow it to stop.”

“My brother is a writer and he has images of the U.S. army giving water pumps, studs and other basic stuff, for the growth of poppies. The biggest supporter of drugs production in Afghanistan, and the export, is the UK government. They are dealing directly with the locals, even giving them money… The UK is also the major market for the export. Helmand, Kandahar, you name it, from there, directly, transport planes are taking off and going straight towards Europe, even the US. The Westerners are people who physically put drugs into the airplane at our airports.”

“My relative was an interpreter for the British… He was killed by them, after he had been witnessing and interpreting at a meeting between the UK officials, and the local drug mafias.”

I was wondering whether he was certain he wanted to speak on the record. My interpreter was standing by, apparently impressed by what he was witnessing. Mr. Maroof did not hesitate:

“I have nothing to hide. They are destroying my country right in front of my eyes. What could be more horrifying than that? The Western occupation is ruining Afghanistan. I want the world to be aware of it, and I don’t care what could happen to me!”

***

Not all the opposition to the present regime in Kabul is fighting for true independence and progressive ideals. Some have close links with the West, or /and with the Mujahedeen.

In Kabul, in June 2017, inside a makeshift camp built near the site of a devastating explosion which in May killed at least 90 people, injuring 400, I met with Ramish Noori; the spokesperson of Haji Zahir Qadir’s “Uprising for Change”. The powerful “Uprising” counts on at least a 1,000-men strong militia, one which is locked in brutal combat with ISIS (Daesh), and which has already beheaded several terrorist fighters in ‘retaliatory’ actions.

Mr. Noory clearly indicated that the goal of his group is to force the present government to resign, even if that would have to happen with the help of foreign countries:

“We were shot at in Kabul and 6 protesters were killed, 21 injured. Professional Special Forces of Ashraf Ghani shot those who were killed point blank, in the face. Instead of killing terrorists, this government is killing innocent protesters; people who came to demand security after that barbaric terrorist attack which took lives of 90 people. We actually believe that many government officials are responsible for the killings. We also think that the government is helping to coordinate attacks of the terrorists.”

Mr. Samir, one of the protesters, began shouting in anger:

“The government is killing its own people, and so we want both Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to resign. We want an entire reset of the Afghan system. Look what is happening all around the country: killings, bomb blasts and unbridled corruption!”

But when I press them hard, I feel that behind their words there is no sound ideology, just geographically swappable ‘civil society talks’. And perhaps some power struggle as well.

I don’t know who is supporting them, who is behind them, but I feel that someone definitely is. What they say is right, but it is how they say it that worries me.

I ask Ramish Noori about the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and suddenly there is a long pause. Then a brief answer in a slightly uncomfortable tone of voice:

“We are ready to work with any country that is supporting our position.”

“Can I stop by later today?” I ask.

“Of course. Anytime. We’ll be here till the morning. We are expecting the Mujahedeen to join us in the early hours.”

“Mujahedeen?”

Next time I will investigate further.

***

I visited the British Cemetery in Kabul. Not out of some perverse curiosity, but because, during my last visit, I was given this tip by a Russian cultural attaché:

“See how patient, how tolerant Afghan people are… After all that has been done to them…”

I’m glad that I went. The cemetery puts the events of the last 2 centuries into clear perspective. To a clear British perspective…

Full of patriotic sentimentality, The Telegraph once described this place as: “Afghanistan: The corner of Kabul that is forever England.”

There was no repentance, no soul-searching, no questions asked, like: What was England doing here, thousands of miles away from its shores, again and again… and again?”

Above the names of fallen English soldiers, there was a sober but unrepentant dedication:

“This memorial is dedicated to all those British officers and soldiers who gave their lives in the Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th Century. Renovated by the officers and soldiers of the British Contingent of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. February 2002. “We Shall Remember Them””

The cemetery is well kept. There is no vandalism and no graffiti. In Afghanistan, the death of Englishmen, Spaniards and other foreigners is respected.

Unfortunately, the death of Afghan people is not even worth commemorating, anymore.

How many Afghans did those British troops massacre, in two long centuries? Shouldn’t there be a monument, somewhere in Kabul, to those thousands of victims of British imperialism? Perhaps there will be… one day, but not anytime soon.

Again I drove to Bagram, filming the monstrous walls of the US military and air force base.

Again I saw children with toy guns, running and imitating landing combat helicopters.

Again I saw misery, right next to the gates of the base; poor women covered by burkas, babies in their arms, sitting in stifling heat on speed bumps, begging.

I saw amputees, empty stares of poor local people.

All this destitution, just a few steps away from tens of billions of dollars wasted on high-tech military equipment, which has succeeded in breaking the spirit of millions of Afghan people, but never in ‘liberating the country from terrorism’, or poverty.

I drove to the village of Dashtak, in Panjshir Valley, to hear more stories about those jihadi cadres who were based here during the war with the Soviet Union.

I was stopped, detained, interrogated, on several occasions, sometimes ten times per day: On the Afghan-Pakistani border which has recently experienced fighting between two countries, in Kabul, Jalalabad, Bargam. I lost track of who was who: police, army, security forces, local security forces, or militias?

In front of Jalalabad Airport I tried to film an enormous US blimp drone, on its final approach before landing. I asked my driver to make a U-turn, my drift HD camera ready. One minute later, the military stopped the car, aiming its guns at us. I had to get out, put my hands on a wall, and surrender my mobile phones. After our identity was verified from Kabul, one of the soldiers explained:

“Yesterday, exactly the same Toyota Corolla drove by, made the same U-turn and then blew itself up, next to this wall…”

In Jalalabad, I spoke to a police officer wounded at the national Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) station, during a terrorist attack.

It all felt surreal. The entire country seems to be dissolving; yet it is refusing to fall, to collapse. It is still standing. And despite rubble, fighting and the insane cynicism of the elites, there is still hope, and even some optimism left.

I’m trying to understand.

“Afghans living abroad keep spreading false rumors that we are finished, that everybody wants to leave,” explains Arif, my driver and interpreter. “But it’s not true. More and more people want to stay home, to improve things, to rebuild our motherland. She is beautiful, isn’t she?”

We are passing through a winding road, enormous mountains on both sides, and a river with crystal-clear water just a few meters away.

“She is,” I say. “Of course she is.”

***

We stopped near a small mosque, almost clinging to a cliff. It was the month of Ramadan. Arif was diligent; he went to pray. I also left the car and went to look into a deep and stunning ravine. Another car arrived; an off-roader, most likely an armored vehicle. The driver killed the engine. Three heavily armed men descended. They left their machine guns near the entrance to the mosque, washed their feet, and then went inside to pray.

Before they entered, we all nodded at each other, politely.

Surprisingly, I did not feel threatened. I never did, in Afghanistan.

The scenery reminded me of South America, most likely of Chile – tremendous peaks, a deep valley, serpentines and powerful river down below.

I felt strong and alive in Afghanistan. Many things have gone wrong in this country, but almost everything was clear, hardly any bullshit. Mountains were mountains, rivers were rivers, misery was misery and fighters were fighters, good or bad. I liked that. I liked that very much.

“Arif,” I asked, sipping Argentinian jerba mate from my elaborate metal straw, as we were gradually approaching Kabul. It was Malta Cruz, a common, harsh mate, but a decent one.

“Do you think I can get Afghan citizenship if we kick out Yanks and Europeans, defeat Taliban and Daesh, and rebuild socialist paradise here?”

I was joking, just joking, after a long and exhausting day of work around Jalalabad.

However, Arif looked suddenly very serious. He slowed the car down.

“You like? You like Afghanistan that much?”

“Hmmm,” I nodded.

“I think, if we win, they’ll make sure to give you Afghan nationality,” he finally concluded.

We were still very far from winning. After returning me to my hotel, he categorically refused to take money for his work. I insisted, but he kept refusing.

It all felt somehow familiar and good. Back in my hotel room, exhausted, I collapsed onto the bed, fully dressed. I fell asleep immediately.

Then, late at night, there were two loud explosions right under the hill.

Afghanistan is here. You love it or hate it, or anything in between. But you cannot cheat: you are here and if you know how to see and feel, then you slowly begin to know. Or you are not here, and you cannot understand or judge it at all. No book can describe Afghanistan, and I’m wondering whether even films can. Maybe poetry can, maybe a theatre play or a novel can, but I’m not sure, yet.

All I know is that it is alive, far from being finished. Its heart is pulsating; its body is warm. If someone tells you that it is finished, don’t trust him. Come and see for yourself; just watch and listen.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world.

Source: counterpunch.org/2017/08/03/afghanistans-lies-myths-and-legends/

URL of the First Part: http://www.newageislam.com/war-on-terror/afghanistan’s-lies,-myths-and-legends-–-part-one/d/112081

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/war-on-terror/andre-vltchek/afghanistan’s-lies,-myths-and-legends-–-concluding-part/d/112111




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