Gaffar: We are inspired by the Kurdish movement and people
“We are inspired by the Kurdish movement and by the Kurdish people especially when it comes to the fight against ISIS. We have to learn from them and continue the same fight against Taliban here in Afghanistan,” says Gaffar.
ANF spoke with Selay Ghaffar, the spokesperson of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan about the background and results of the so-called “peace process” between the US and Taliban. According to the agreement which was signed in Qatar on 29 February, the US and NATO will withdraw troops from the country within 14 months on condition that Taliban fulfils the requirements of the deal. While 5,000 members of Taliban have been released from prison, the organization continues its attacks and crimes against the Afghan people.
Can you explain us the background of the talks between the USA and Taliban and the so-called ‘peace agreement’ that was signed in February between them in Doha?
In 2001 the US and the NATO allies occupied Afghanistan in the name of fighting terrorism. It meant fighting the Taliban and bringing human rights, women’s rights, democracy etc. These were the slogans they made when they occupied Afghanistan. But after 2001 until now the Taliban got stronger. Day by day they commit more crimes and brutality against Afghan people, especially through suicide bombing, killings, massacres. The bloodshed continues. By saying this I mean that the war against terrorism was just a lie. The war on terrorism was just an excuse to enter Afghanistan and to use Afghanistan as a platform for its new strategies to occupy the world and in Afghanistan especially to defeat its rivals like Russia, China, Iran who all have borders with Afghanistan.
The peace process is again cheating Afghan people and cheating their own people because the US-Afghan war has been the longest and the most expensive war in the history of the US. And their people are criticising them that all the taxes are going for nothing. There is no security, there is still bloodshed, there is still war, there are still killings and thousands of Afghans have been killed. More than 400 thousand Afghans have been killed since 2001 and hundreds of Afghans have been wounded and many have fled their country.
Now we can see that the US somehow realised after that they cannot use Taliban as their so-called enemies, which they have made for themselves. They are not their enemy; they are their agents. They want much more brutalities to export terrorism from Afghanistan. They already changed the white flag with the black flag in Afghanistan. ISIS already has taken the place of Taliban. We can say that ISIS is the new nickname of Taliban. They are the replacement of Taliban. The US somehow want to emerge Taliban and the puppet regime there which is composed of Abdullah, all Mujahidin groups and the new technocrats, the so-called democratic technocrats, which the US brainwashed and brought here. They want to give them space in the new government and fight against terrorism and use Afghanistan to reach their strategy in the region and in the world. The regional and international powers use Afghanistan as a platform for their proxy wars. For us this peace process is just a dust in the eyes of Afghan people. They know that Afghan people are thirsty for peace. They want peace, security, they want to live, they want not to fear when their daughters and sons go to school. They want to have a normal life. They know that the Afghans desperately want peace.
Do you believe that this agreement will bring peace or at least a less violent situation?
There will be no peace as ISIS has replaced Taliban. War against the oppressed Afghan people will continue. So it’s just a change in the policy of the US somehow. It’s a kind of neo-colonial policy in Afghanistan that they want to implement. The peace process is a fake process. Many of these peace processes, peace negotiations with these criminals did not work. During Halqa Percham, David Somon was the UN envoy in Afghanistan to bring peace between Najibullah at that time and also the Mujahidin, but it did not work. And even now, from Karsai regime until now many times the peace talks started. It was all kind of taking the time to implement their own strategy. So we have many examples. Many times they start a peace process there is a reason behind it and the first time when they started the peace process they wanted actually the Karsai government to stay in power. Just now the US started peace process and they made a deal with the Taliban. They also made this deal of releasing the prisoners and giving them power. We can see that it’s really related to the US elections. Trump wants to get the vote of the people just by saying “I stopped the long war in Afghanistan, and I defeated the Taliban”. And the Ghani government was shouting of the red lines, there is a red line of us that we don’t want to have peace without these conditions, they have crossed all these red lines because they wanted power. Ghani wanted to stay in power. That’s why they ignore all their red lines.
Another issue of this peace process; it’s not only a deal between the US and Taliban. Of course they say that the Afghan government and the Taliban will start peace talks. Peace will not come because we cannot ignore the bloody hands of Iran and Pakistan especially, the regional powers. Taliban are the puppets of Pakistan. Pakistan already supported the Taliban and in the past the Mujahidin groups. It’s a good platform for them to fight its proxy war with India. Pakistan will never want peace in Afghanistan. At any cause they want to continue the war. The third reason is, as long as there are the military bases of the US in Afghanistan, it’s a big threat for the region and for the world. As long as we have these bases in Afghanistan there will be no peace. There will be no security in Afghanistan. Even the so-called deal with Taliban. The US it signed on 29 February, many suicide attacks took place the same day. Even after that, they made ceasefires many times, especially during the Eid holidays, they continued their suicide bombings even during those days. This means Taliban never wants peace. Clearly Khalilzad who is the envoy of the US in terms of making a deal with the Taliban, and Afghan media said that peace with Taliban does not mean that there will be security in Afghanistan. They already said this. And also many other US officials declared this. Khalilzad clearly said that this deal is between the US and Taliban. It means that the Taliban will never kill US armies in Afghanistan, they will not harm Americans or NATO forces. But they continue their so-called Jihad against Afghan people. And they say we already made a deal with Taliban and now Afghan government, you go and make any kind of deal you want with the Taliban to make peace. This means that the US is playing with its puppet regime as well. Somehow just to keep the flame of fire on and implement the strategy that they want they continue all these processes. We clearly witness now that yes, Taliban made ceasefire with the US, not now but even since 2001. From 2001 until now how many US headquarters, bases, camps have been attacked? Every time Afghan people are killed, they have been attacked. They have been the first victims of this war. And not US. That’s why there has always been a ceasefire with the US. Their jihad was not against the US but Afghan people.
Thousands of Taliban members were released from prison. What will be the result of their release?
One thing which is very clear is that peace with the brutal Taliban and the release of their prisoners, all these murders, will only increase war and destruction. It has nothing to do with peace and security in Afghanistan. We have experienced in the past many of the Taliban leaders have been released from Guantanamo under this new process. What happened? All of them sit in Doha as the main thinkers of Taliban to plan suicide bombing in Afghanistan, to plan the destruction of Afghanistan, to plan massacres and killing of Afghan people and also police. And these policemen are ordinary people that join this puppet regime not because they believe in it but to feed their families. During the Karsai regime they released many of them. Ghani released these Taliban prisoners even last year and then again this year. What happened? Did peace come? No, war increased. Before there were some provinces, districts under the control of the government. Now the majority of the cities in Afghanistan are controlled by Taliban. In some places it’s the government during the day, and it’s Taliban during the nights. The released members take guns and continue to kill because there is no change in their mentality. In prison they became much more dangerous, when they are released they just want to explode their anger to the government and the people. They are killing the people. The US without informing the Afghan government already promised the release of 5 thousand prisoners to the Taliban. It was decided by the US. The Afghan government said they will not release 5 thousand Taliban members, there is no Afghan-Taliban dialogue or negotiation. But what happened? Khalilzad just came and pulled the ear of Ghani and Abdullah and said who you are to take this decision? I already made the decision in Doha that we will release them, there is no red line, there is no precondition for your negotiations. You have to release. What happened? They released 4600 Taliban members. And for the other 400 they just wanted to legitimise the decision by calling on the council to meet. This is a very antipopular and antinational council. Nobody is listening to the Afghan people. The families of the victims will never forgive the Taliban and they never want these murderers to be released. And they never want to make any deal with them without justice. Because peace without justice does not mean anything. Peace without prosecution of these criminals does not mean anything.
How do you value the role of Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation?
When Khalilzad was very young he moved to US. For the US he is a very trustable puppet. At the beginning he came as the US ambassador. Now he is the envoy for peace. His role is how to meet the neo-colonial policies of the US in Afghanistan. For him the life of Afghan people does not matter when he was asking to release the Taliban members, when he was dealing with these murders, when he made peace with these murderers. For him justice does not mean anything. Security, peace, prosperity in the life of Afghan people does not mean anything. He has the only job which is how to implement the US strategy in Afghanistan. That’s why he very well knows how to play this game under the name of peace. Because he is a very old spy of the US. Now he can play this role very well in Afghanistan.
The US stated that if Taliban meets the conditions of the agreement, they will withdraw their soldiers within 14 months. How do you interpret the statements of the US relating military withdraw in Afghanistan and the Middle East?
US will never leave Afghanistan as long as they have their military bases there. The nine bases that threat the world. As long as they have rivals like Russia, China, Iran they will not leave because right now the US government uses their presence in Afghanistan against the Russians. If you move we have just kind of high-tech weapons that we can use against you. They can use this threat against Iran. They can use ISIS. We don’t believe that they will leave. They did not leave Iraq. The motive behind this I want to relate to the US elections again. For Afghan people the withdrawal of foreign forces, especially the US criminal forces in Afghanistan, is like a dream. Everybody wants this. But it will just remain as a dream because they will not leave. In their agreement with Taliban they say their soldiers will leave the country within 14 months. But we are sure that after winning the election Trump will find an excuse to say that this is not the right time for them to leave Afghanistan. They were supposed to leave Afghanistan in 2014. What happened? They said the war against terrorism was going on. And now they will find an excuse. Yes, Taliban joined the government. There are many other sections of Taliban that already sold themselves to Russia, Iran, China. There are reports saying that Taliban has been divided into many groups that are working for these countries as well. And the US might say “yes we have to continue to fight against those Taliban who did not join the peace process”. Maybe they will use ISIS as a threat. There are rumours of secret documents between US and Taliban. Nobody knows the content.
How are women effected? What is their attitude towards this so-called peace process?
This question has many aspects. We need to categorize the women of Afghanistan. Taliban has committed lots of atrocities and crimes against women. They have beheaded, stoned, killed women, deprived them of their education, work etc. The most enormous war was waged on them and this continues even now. Afghan women will never forget all these crimes. We will never forget … who was stoned just for loving someone. We will never forget the execution of Zerminia… We will not forget the beheading of Tebessum. We will not forget many other crimes that they have committed against Afghan women. The ordinary Afghan women and the conscious Afghan women will not forget and forgive Taliban. Only a handful of women who are living with the dollars of the US, who are the loudspeakers of the US, who want to play the role of or implement the policies of the US in Afghanistan, especially women’s rights is on their agenda, they are the ones who listen to the US, who just all the time talk of the peace process and say Taliban has changed. Many women just want to go to kiss the feet of the Taliban and forgive all the crimes they have committed against women. Let’s link it with the Gulbeddin government that we always called rocket because he had 1200 rockets and killed thousands of Afghan people. Gulbeddin was the first or the only faction at that time that threw acid on the face of women that were going to school. All these women went and met Gulbeddin and they just forgot all those crimes that Gulbeddin committed against our women. Now the same practice continues against women. As I said these women like Fawzi Kofi, Shahgul Rezayi, the lawmakers and many others are always talking about this so-called peace process because they want to stay in their position. We criticised these negotiations as some of the so-called civil society women, some who were wearing colourful burkas and speaking of forgiving Taliban and these colourful dramas. And like their jihadi brothers they can come and sit. The women who sit beside the Taliban and forget about the crimes they have committed against the women of Afghanistan, I think they are nothing than puppet women.
But the victim families, the women will never forgive and forget them. Because these women just want to enjoy sitting or going to these hotels in Doha and having the money from the US and stay in their position, not losing their money. And also give the signal to the Taliban that they are the ones they can trust us and they will whitewash their bloody hands by saying that the Taliban has changed. Can you see, they accept women beside them? During all these talks you can listen to the interviews of the Taliban, they have not changed. Still they say they will implement Sharia law on Afghan women. That means they will ban women from all parts of life. For me, for us, the life of Afghan women will get worse. The situation will much more worsen.
Is there any protest against this US-Taliban deal?
Hambastagi party was the only voice that demonstrated against the release of 5 thousand Taliban prisoners and took to the streets. All the time media ignores this, and they don’t want to listen to us. Also when the council met there was a lawmaker, a parliamentarian, an intellectual, a woman, the real defender of women we can say. She just stood in the council and said that this is national treason. But why were all these women silenced? Why were they silent in the council?
How are the conditions of democratic progressive forces to protest and organise? Do they have an alternative agenda?
It’s a very difficult time for the Afghan people. Especially for the democratic progressive forces in Afghanistan. Especially for the forces that fight for the freedom and independency of the country. Who are against occupations and all these fundamentalists, whether Taliban, Al Qaida or ISIS or the Mujahidin. And of course on the top the US. Because they are always under the threat of attacks. Many times the Solidarity Party and some other groups stood against these kind of processes. We call it a national treason and we condemn this kind of acts by the US and the Afghan government or the suicides and so on. Nobody listens to us. And while they try to attack, they put our members in prison, they torture us to stop us. At this situation we can say that we are the real opposition against such kind of antinational processes which are going on, against the US occupation of Afghanistan, against this puppet regime which is just implementing. We always say that the Black House is implementing the policy of the White House. And there are the so-called oppositions created by the government itself just to say that there is opposition. They are the ones that call themselves opposition but at the end we can see that they just sit together with these murderers on the table. We as the real opposition are not under attack just from one side. On one side there are the US and their allies. Then there are the jihadi criminals. Then ISIS, Taliban and many other terrorist groups inside the country. Just to give you an example. When the council convened, there was an order from the government to all media and political analysts who are just in favour of signing the document for releasing the Taliban, who are just in favour of this process and give some reason as to why this process is important and why the people should believe that with this process peace will come. We were boycotted. Nobody wanted to listen to us, but there were a group who staged demonstrations, who raised their voices, who used the social media, the street, all the means they had against this. At least listen to them, ask what they want. They organised also the victim families and some associations that work for the victims. Many of them together, the victim families, went even to the UN office and said they were not forgiving the Taliban, they didn’t want their release, they didn’t want this process to happen without justice. Why does nobody listen? Because they always want to boycott us and not to listen to these voices.
The democratic forces oppose this process. But it’s the US who implements this process and takes the decisions. Not Afghan government even, as nobody is listening to them. As I said, the US decided for the release of 5 thousand prisoners, without informing or consulting the Afghan government. The Afghan government was aware of this pact between them. Suddenly Khalilzad came and announced this and the Afghan government just released them. The voices of 99% of Afghans is not heard during this process. They always try to meet their fake opposition. Yes, we have alternatives. But the situation here is very complicated. Everybody has its hands in Afghanistan. We can only reach peace and stability through the power of the people. The Afghan people should get organised, united, organise a struggle against these forces if they want peace and security in their life. Because this is the only way to have a democratic and popular government who can speak of the rights of people, who can bring humanity and prosperity in the life of Afghan people and especially women.
Granting amnesty without any trial to these murderers is national treason. We always say that releasing these prisoners or peace talks with Taliban are a crime against Afghan people and humanity in Afghanistan because Afghan people want peace. On the other side we are all talking about the peace talks with Taliban but since the process started more than 3 thousand incidents of suicide bombing or killing etc has happened in Afghanistan. Just a few statistics that have shown that hundreds of Afghan people have been killed by Taliban attacks just within the 6 months in 2019. What kind of peace are they talking about? They are sitting on the table and just at the same time they continue their suicide bombing attacks. Afghanistan watchdog organisation said that in the past 6 months 16 civilians have been killed daily. These are lives. Lives of Afghans should matter. For the US, lives of Afghans have no value. Afghanistan has been called the deadliest country in the world. It has been called by the UN the third most unhappy country. They have been called the most hopeless nation in the world because we cannot see any hope, change, anything in favour of the Afghan people within this peace process. But we as Hambastagi have hope. And many other progressive organisations. We work together, side by side and ally as an opposition against these things. We have hope for the future. That’s why we fight against the occupation, the fundamentalists. We have very good examples. In few cities of Afghanistan women took the gun and fought against the Taliban. Because they wanted to take revenge from them for the crimes they committed in their communities. Just recently in a province of Afghanistan a woman took a gun and killed these murderers. A woman with her brother took the gun against these Taliban members. Also in the north of the country there are groups who stood against the criminalities of these groups. So all these groups immerge from the people, among the people, against these criminalities or crimes and the fight for justice gives hope to us. But we need a very strong leadership, a very strong progressive party to lead and organise all these forces, groups and people against the occupiers and their local arm, which are the Taliban and puppet regime. And we have always said that we are inspired by the Kurdish movement and by the Kurdish people especially when it comes to the fight against ISIS, we have to learn from them and continue the same fight against Taliban here in Afghanistan. Because we have the similar situation right now. The fight against ISIS in Kobane, the Afrin people’s fight, the Kurdish people are fighting against their enemies… ISIS is already in Afghanistan. So we have to learn from them and continue such kind of fight against our enemies.
How can we show support and solidarity?
We always ask our international sister and brother organisations, please be our voice. You have to fight against our one enemy which is imperialism, the capitalist state that wants to govern the whole world, the whole oppressed. In Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We have one enemy which is imperialism. Let’s fight it together. We will learn from your experiences. Let’s share your experiences with us and we should learn from each other’s experiences to fight for justice, for human rights, for women’s rights. We have to back each other. When we are attacked by the Afghan government, we want demonstrations and actions to be staged in front of the Afghan embassy and those countries to condemn and put pressure on them. The situation in Afghanistan is not only related to the national government. It’s related to all these international superpowers like US and European countries who spent their money in Afghanistan, all those taxpayers in Afghanistan. You can put pressure as the Kurdish movement on these international US-NATO forces. Stop war in Afghanistan. Stop the killing of Afghan people by supporting the criminal groups like Taliban and ISIS. When women are under pressure, we want you to stand with us. We want you to be our voice and put pressure on all these governments, to express that you are in Afghanistan too for women’s rights.