The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Billions for War, Crumbs for the Hungry

Sep 27, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

“Everything is closed. There is no more money. In three months people will not have enough to eat. We can’t go on like this,” denounced a resident of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, around 100 miles from the capital, Kabul.

According to the United Nations, as things stand, 97% of the Afghan population could sink below the poverty line by next summer.

Faced with this catastrophe—the result of 20 years of war waged by imperialist leaders—officials promise infinitesimally low aid. The UN had requested 600 million dollars to deal with the immediate emergency. French representatives said they want to make available some 100 million dollars. And the U.S.—after spending two trillion dollars on the war—pledged 64 million dollars.

After the Taliban took power in mid-August, international funding was suspended. But two-fifths of the country’s income had come from foreign funds. In Kabul some banks have reopened, but individuals are limited to withdrawing 20,000 afghanis per week per person, which is under 235 dollars. To access ATMs, people have to wait for hours, hoping that the cash box was filled.

But most Afghans have a much worse situation, without that kind of money. One in three Afghans suffers from hunger. Education and health services that were functioning are now in free fall. “Medical establishments and hospitals that could provide free care are now forced to charge patients, because these hospitals no longer have any source of funding. While their patients themselves are losing their jobs and the prices of basic foodstuffs soar,” the country coordinator of Doctors Without Borders said.

Add to this the weight of the dictatorship that religious fundamentalists want to impose on the entire population. In 2021, as many Afghans say, “The Taliban didn’t change.”

“If we want to advance human rights for the Afghan people, the best way is to move forward with humanitarian aid, to engage with the Taliban and to take advantage of this humanitarian aid to push for the implementation of these rights,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. But those who protest against the Taliban have no help coming—particularly the women who continue to demand to keep the few rights won under previous governments, like the right to work or study. Humanitarian aid has even become the justification for a policy of coming to any agreement at any cost with those who imposed their power on the population.

Imperialist rulers might indeed rely on the Taliban again in order to maintain their own domination, as in 1996, and as they have done quite often with equally reactionary regimes.