Hundreds in Kabul Protest U.S. Occupation
March 10, 2011
On March 6, hundreds of Afghans protested in downtown Kabul. The demonstrators demanded an end to the U.S. occupation and denounced plans for permanent U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Banners at the march read, "Permanent U.S. military bases equals permanent slavery of Afghan people", "Occupation equals killing plus destruction" and demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Down with the U.S."
In an interview with the Xinhua news agency an organizer named Hangama explained that, "Our aim is to condemn the civilian casualties caused by U.S. troops here in Afghanistan and we don't want the American presence in our country." Pamphlets handed out at the demonstration read in part, "The involvement of the U.S. government in Afghanistan, that has a long history of cruelty, has not improved conditions in the country, but increased corruption, poverty, murders, poppy cultivation and trafficking."
The U.S. currently has some 100,000 troops in Afghanistan while the total number of the foreign troops is 150,000.
According to a January 25 announcement by Mark Sedwill, NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, NATO will be in Afghanistan for "as long as we are needed and required." Occupation authorities are seeking relief from demands for immediate withdrawal by promising a "transition to a new phase" of the war by the end of 2014, but Sedwill emphasized in his comments that "the transition in 2014 does not mean withdrawal."
In addition, U.S. officials and the Karzai government are currently working out a draft strategic treaty which includes proposals for permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.