From A World to Win News Service

News from People's War in Nepal: Negotiations and Repression

Revolutionary Worker #1210, August 17, 2003, posted at

The United States is stepping up its aid to help the reactionary Nepalese government fight the People's War in Nepal.

U.S. officials say defense aid to Nepal is being increased from "a couple of hundred thousand a year" to $17 million in order to try and transform the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) into an effective force against the Maoist People's Liberation Army. The RNA is to be expanded from 50,000 to 70,000 troops and has already received 5,000 M-16 rifles from the United States and 5,500 machine guns from Belgium.

The United States, according to American officials, is also increasing development grants to Nepal from $24 million a year to $38 million a year, to finance projects that officials termed "insurgency relevant." ( New York Times , August 4, 2003)

The Maoist People's War in Nepal, a genuine liberation struggle which started in 1996, has the support of millions of poor peasants in the countryside. The revolutionary forces have established base areas and new political power throughout the rural areas and the Nepalese government has lost control in most of the remote countryside.

There is presently a ceasefire between the Maoists' new political power and the old state of Nepal. In the specific condition of strategic equilibrium, a balance of power between the old state and the new revolutionary state, a ceasefire was declared on January 29. A ceasefire means, by definition, a standstill by the armies of both sides, staying wherever they were. But the Royal Army violated that and intruded into different parts of the revolutionary base areas until a code of conduct was agreed to by both sides. This code of conduct was developed after back-and-forth struggle and negotiations over several months. Still, the government violated this by opening fire on and killing Maoist cadres in the far western and eastern regions of the country. Many cadres were arrested. Many of them are still either in custody or in jail.

Right before the ceasefire, in mid-January, the Kathmandu Post reported that soldiers from the United States and Nepal were set to begin regular joint military exercises. Nepalese officials said a team of soldiers from the U.S. Pacific Command had arrived in Nepal and that the exercises were aimed at "enhancing the capability of U.S. and Nepalese forces and improving their ability to work together."

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Kathmandu confirmed this and said the U.S. Pacific Command forces planned on carrying out month-long joint military exercises. According to the U.S. Embassy, the exercises had three purposes: "to enhance the operational capability of the U.S. Pacific forces; to improve their inter-operability with other forces; and also to increase the tactical efficiency of the host nation."

Since the ceasefire was declared, U.S. imperialism has played ugly games, interfering in Nepalese politics. It issued several statements affecting the negotiations process and put the CPN (Maoist) on its "terrorist" list. The U.S. forced the Nepalese government to sign a five-year anti-terrorist agreement, continues to provide arms and training to the Royal Army to fight against the Maoist revolutionaries, and according to the World to Win News Service , more than 200 U.S. soldiers are stationed in Nepal as "advisors."

A July 1 article in the Kathmandu Post said: "The U.S. administration has, in the last two years, been quietly securing close military and political ties with Nepal. Since President Bush was installed, there have been four high-level visits to the country. The Bush administration has provided U.S. $17 million worth of military equipment to the Nepali army. The government in 2001 decided to purchase 5,000 M-16 automatic weapons from the United States for Rs 350 million ($4.6 million). In addition, the U.S. agreed to supply 8,000 more M-16s as military assistance. A third consignment of arms supplied by them to help Nepal in its fight against Maoist rebels has just arrived. The UK is providing more than $10 million to buy military hardware, while Belgium has delivered 500 machine guns to the Nepalese army. Those providing military assistance have completely ignored the anti-democratic character of the Nepalese regime."

The Kathmandu Post also reported on July 10 that USAID had signed an agreement with the government of Nepal for a grant of $7.5 million to support Nepal's initiatives for "strengthening the rule of law, enhancing access to justice, and advancing accountability and anti-corruption initiative."

The People's War in Nepal is a genuine war of liberation with widespread support among the people and has nothing in common with groups like al-Qaida. But this fact has not stopped the U.S. from trying to fabricate some kind of comparison.

A proposal by Bush for $20 million in economic and military aid to Nepal says, "We currently do not have direct evidence of an al-Qaida presence in Nepal, but weak governance has already proved inviting to terrorists, criminals and intelligence services from surrounding countries...continued instability in Nepal could create the conditions in which terrorists easily could establish operations, especially in remote areas in the far west of the country. In addition, Nepal has a substantial Muslim minority, located primarily along the Indian border. The combination of proximity, rugged terrain and a distracted government could well afford conditions that the al-Qaida would find favorable in its search for safe havens."

This is yet another example of how for the U.S., terrorism is "whatever we say it is"-- that any group that stands in the way of U.S. interests can be labeled terrorist and targeted and that the U.S. can use its "war on terrorism" to justify sending guns and money to reactionary regimes fighting against genuine wars of liberation.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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