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A familiar story in forgotten Afghanistan.

"Excellent news from Afghanistan," wrote Toronto Sun foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis in a December 12 column. "A new president, chosen in the country's first democratic election, has just been sworn in. He pledges to extend democracy across Afghanistan, liberate and educate all women, and wipe out 'the last remnants of Islamic terrorism' impeding economic and social development. Foreign troops supporting the Kabul government will remain only until security is assured and terrorism eliminated."

Margolis was not marking the December 7, 2004 inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washington's hand-picked surrogate; he instead was reminding readers about the 1987 installation of the Soviet Union's stooge, Muhammad Najibullah. His point is that history is repeating itself and that the news from Afghanistan will turn out no better now than it was then.

"Afghanistan's first true national elections were in 1986 and 1987, under Soviet military occupation," Margolis points out. "First, the KGB organized a 'loya jirga,' or national assembly in 1985 and, through bribes and intimidation, got its new Afghan 'asset,' Najibullah, positioned to replace the ineffectual Afghan communist puppet then in office."

"In 2002," Margolis continues, "the CIA got its Afghan 'asset,' Hamid Karzai, nominated president through a loya jirga that seemed to many as rigged as the one that promoted Najibullah." In the Soviet-administered "elections" of 1986-87, "the Afghan communists allowed genuine opposition parties to run and even sought a coalition with anti-communist forces," most of whom quite properly spurned Najibullah as a communist puppet. In the U.S.-run elections, by way of contrast, "all parties or individuals opposed to the American occupation of Afghanistan were excluded."

Although the Bush administration's rhetoric cloaks Karzai in the garb of a hero, he's actually "the world's most expensive mayor," Margolis contends. "Karzai rules only downtown Kabul, protected by 200 U.S. bodyguards, 17,000 U.S. troops and a token NATO force.... It costs Washington $1.6 billion monthly to keep Karzai in power. Without the foreign troops' bayonets, Karzai's little puppet regime would quickly be swept away."

But at least the forces of "freedom" have a foothold in Afghanistan's forbidding soil, right? Well ... not exactly. "The real power behind the figurehead Karzai is the Northern Alliance, the rump of the old Afghan Communist Party," Margolis concludes.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Jan 10, 2005
Words:377
Previous Article:UN promoting global ADA.
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