NATO summit and "shadow summit" both betray Afghan women

The typical equivocation from NATO at the Chicago summit—acting as if there were a firm 2014 deadline for a withdrawal despite Obama's deal for an extended US (at least) military presence in the country. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen went through the motions of calling the Taliban "terrorists" virtually in the same breath that he invoked negotiations with them. "I don't know whether the Taliban leadership is prepared to negotiate a solution, maybe not, I don't know, but I think we should give it a try, providing certain conditions," Rasmussen told reporters, without specifying those "conditions." So much for not negotiating with terrorists, but Western leaders have displayed such doublethink before. (Chicago Sun-Times, May 20)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International convened a "Shadow Summit" in Chicago, bringing together advocates for women's rights in Afghanistan. Women for Afghan Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation released a joint letter at the Shadow Summit warning against negotiations with the Taliban. The letter states, "the subjugation of women is not a sidebar, something that can be avoided through negotiations. It is the linchpin of Taliban strategy, having nothing to do with religion. The subjugation of half a country is the straightest path to subjugating the whole." (Ms Magazine, May 21)

Alas, Women for Afghan Women support the US/NATO military presence in Afghanistan. The Shadow Summit appears not to have included any representation from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), or its stateside voice the Afghan Women's Mission—which oppose both negotiations with the Taliban and the Western military occupation of the country.

In an April 28 statement recalling the coup d'etat on that day in 1978 that plunged Afghanistan into 14 years of war between a Soviet-backed regime and the Mujahedeen warlords whose successors still control the current US-backed Afghan government, RAWA stated:

Today the US and west are trying to broker reconciliation between the 28th and 27th April slaughterers and mercenary Taliban, and impose a united government of all traitors upon our people. The US wants to free the oppressive Talib leaders and include these agents of the ISI [Pakistani secret police] in its puppet government. The unity of all criminals does not bring news of peace but more ill fortune upon our nation. When these hungry wolves attack our people together, our people will experience darker and more tragic days. To make Afghanistan its military base in the region and guarantee its permanent presence, the US is ready to strike any deal with the most bloodthirsty enemies of our country and homeland.

With such voices marginalized by both the official summit and the Shadow Summit, the debate is framed in terms of either the US brokering a deal with the Taliban in the name of "peace," or occupying Afghanistan indefinitely to keep the Taliban at bay. We hope that at least some of the anti-NATO protesters in Chicago gave voice to RAWA's neither/nor perspective on NATO and Taliban terror—instead of embracing the notion of a bogus "peace" with the Taliban, an idea ironically shared by the very people they were protesting...

See our last post on the women's struggle in Afghanistan.

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