Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Afghanistan Crisis: Statements
I will be sharing my time with Deputy Barry. We will take five minutes each. I echo the sentiments expressed regarding the programme for admitting Afghans who have relatives here. It is a good initiative. Ireland has always played a good role in showing humanitarian solidarity across the world. There are other matters on which I would fundamentally disagree with the Minister but Irish people across the world have always held a hand out to those who are in need. That is a proud tradition of ours. It is very good.
The circumstances in Afghanistan are truly tragic but it is a tragedy made by occupation over the last 20 years. We have to understand what the last 20 years were all about. What was that all about? Why was the United States in Afghanistan in the first place? Afghanistan had nothing to do with the events in New York on 11 September 2001 and yet more than 75,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan. Ironically, most of these were women and children. There then followed the absolute catastrophe of the occupation of Iraq. The US has framed itself as a liberator. It is not a liberator but an oppressor. It is the oppressor that has left Afghanistan in a pretty terrible state. The amount of money spent is absolutely astronomical. After spending all that money, after all that time under occupation and after all that death and destruction, including the deaths of Afghan civilians, combatants, American soldiers and NATO soldiers, as soon as the Americans said they were leaving, everything fell apart. The Afghan army fell apart after two or three weeks.
What does that say about western and American imperialism? There is a narrative that this is about protecting women's rights. The hypocrisy is incredible. Look at Saudi Arabia. Who is the biggest economic contributor to Saudi Arabia? It is the United States. Nobody says anything about that. The situation regarding women's rights in Saudi Arabia is terrible but America deals with that country no problem. The Taliban is in some ways the creation of the United States. From 1979 to 1989, the mujahidin were supplied with arms by the United States which killed thousands of people. This is the bitter fruit of imperialism and occupation.
The Taliban are no friends of the Afghan people. They are reactionary fanatics and, eventually, the Afghan people will turn against them. The state was so corrupt that the president went to, I think, Qatar because he knew the game was up. It is the bitter fruit of adventurism and imperialism. We should have nothing to do with it. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people here and in Afghanistan.