The Soviet –Afghanistan war took place during 1979-1989. It took thousands of innocent lives. This war has been called ‘the Soviet Union’s Vietnam war’. It is evident that the war brought a lot of loses for both countries. The Soviet-Afghan conflict was regulated against the relentless, elusive Mujahadeen. The war was a start for the Afghanistan’s relations with the whole world. These relations were either positive or negative. The first USA – Afghanistan interaction was when the USA supported Afghanistan in the war with the Soviets. The common enemy, the Soviet Union, made America and Afghanistan share their interests As the matter of fact, the USA supported Afghanistan during the initial stage of conflict. Ironically, the organizations created in Afghanistan did their best to threaten and destroy the Western economy. Modern relations between the USA and Afghanistan give hope that there will be a peace agreement by 2014. According to the American and Afghan negotiators, the US military forces would leave Afghanistan. Afghan relations with other countries are very complicated. It is very hard to understand or explain them. Afghanistan seems to be the hottest point of wars where international conflicts occur.
Historical Background to the Conflict
The Soviet Union’s invasion in Afghanistan entailed catastrophes for either the Soviet Union or the Afghan nations. Less obvious at that time were the ultimate directions of the war, like the emergence of the Taliban, Al Qaeda creation, links to the America’s horrifying 9/11 catastrophe, and the eventual United States war against Afghanistan (Mortenson & Relin, 2012).
There were some factors that preceded the Afghanistan-Soviet war. These factors have to do with the beginning of the war and its end. Afghanistan appeared as the country in 1953. It happened as soon as King Zahir’s cousin, Prince Mohammoud Daoud, became Prime Minister. His desire to modernize the army resulted in a request of military equipment from the USA. As the USA refused Afghanistan’s request, Daoud applied to the Soviet Union for military aid. The USSR agreed to assist Afghanistan. In addition, the Soviet proclaimed close ties between two countries.
Daoud had overly ambitious plans. His controversial social policies and the increase of tensions with Pakistan caused King Zahir to demand Daoud’s resignation. Dr. Mohammad Yusof became the Prime Minister of Afghanistan in spring 1963. The liberal constitution of Afghanistan was initiated in 1964 by King Zahir. So far as it is known, the constitution permitted multi-party elections in Afghanistan. In January 1965, the PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) was established by a group of intellectuals. Babrak Karmal was a member of PDPA. He was elected to the parliament during the first national elections under the new constitution. In 1969, the next nationwide elections showed that Babrak Karmal and another member of the party Hafizullah Amin were elected to the parliament. This played a prominent role for Afghanistan because both of them would play important roles in the future Soviet intervention.
In 1973, Daoud returned to the power in a military coup. He dissolved the monarchy, displaced the current King Zahir, and established a Republic. In the republic, Daoud proclaimed himself as President and Prime Minister. Realization of accepted social and political reforms turned out to be impossible for Daoud. Even the constitution adopted in 1977 did not improve the chronic political instability that affected Afghanistan. His adventurous efforts to force out his opponents from the government aroused resentment and caused a bloody coup. In the result of the coup, Daoud was killed. Soon after these events, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was established by Taraki, the PDPA leader. It was a republic with President Nur Mohammad Taraki and Prime Minister Babrak Karmal. According to new reforms, anarchy spread through the country. Amin applied for the Soviet aid. His inquiry was approved. Nur Mohammad Taraki was killed on 14 September, 1979. Fear that Hafizullah Amin would adopt an anti-Soviet attitude provoked the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Amin was killed three days later. Babrak accepted pro-Soviet ideology and became President, Prime Minister, and Secretary General of the PDPA. This led to Mujahadeen resistance all over the country. Public disapproval of Babrak’s regime evoked Soviet support and initiated the Afghan-Soviet war.
Soviet invasion – 1979. Many would insist that the story of 9/11 started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. They were sharing the border at that time. Since 1973, Afghanistan has experienced several coups. This year, Daud Khan overthrew the Afghanistan monarchy. He was sympathetic to the Soviet overtures. The croups in Afghanistan had different ideas, including if the country must be communistic and how it should be governed. Some of those ideas tried to evoke the warm attitude towards the Soviet Union. The intervention of Soviet Union followed the overthrow of a pro-communist leader in Afghanistan. In the result, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in late December, 1979. It took several months of military preparation for the Soviet Union to cross the border.
Furthermore, the United States of America and the Soviet Union were engaged in the Cold War at that time. It was a so-called global competition for the fealty of other countries. As a matter of fact, the United States were deeply interested whether the Soviet Union would establish the communist’s regime in Afghanistan. In order to forestall such a possibility, the United States of America started looking for opportunities to oppose the Soviets. The Soviet intervention led to the election of a pro-soviet prime minister in Afghanistan – Babrak Karmal.
It is dominant that the part of the USA in this war was great. It depends on the fact that the USA rested the Soviet Union and decreased their military force in Afghanistan. It is far less known that the USA funding of the Mujahadeen started far earlier than the Soviet Union invasion.
American response or provocation? – Supporting the Mujahadeen. The hardest part about the USA was that it supported and funded the Mujahadeen. Mujahadeen is an Arabian word that means ‘strivers’ and ‘strugglers’. Mujahid is a person who fights for the sake of Islam. Mujahadeen is generally known as a self-named Afghanistan army, which fought with the Soviet Union during 1979-1989. In the context of the Afghanistan War, Mujahadeen is best understood as a resistance force to the Soviet intervention. Mujahadeen were organized into variety of political parties. This organization was supported by different countries, the USA was among them. As well as the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia gained majorly in money and power during the war in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Mujahadeen were fighting gainst an occupier. They were majorly supported by the USA (Tisdall, 2012). They provided a so-called war of nationalists. In the Afghanistan war, the Islamic language helped to unify the population, which had a lot of ethical, cultural, and moral differences. This unorganized army force was accepted as outlaws by their communist enemy and as fighters for freedom by the U.S., which supported the ‘enemy of its enemy’ the Soviet Union.
It is often asked why America supported the Mujahadeen. It is clear that the Cold War was still taking place. The Mujahadeen were fighting the Soviets. At that time, the Soviets were the enemies of the USA. That is why, America was trying to arm the Mujahadeen, so that they could kill the enemy. It is evident that the USA supported Afghanistan national fighters to destroy the Soviet communist leadership and regime as well. By the American support of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union was brought down (Tisdall, 2012). Moreover, there was created the Taliban, who was previously Mujahadeen. To sum it up, while supporting Mujahadeen in the Afghanistan war, the USA was ruled by old motto ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Therefore, it was important for America to response to the military actions in Afghanistan and to make its enemy, i.e. the Soviet, understand the power of the USA (Ritz, 2012). It is generally accepted that the USA support of the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan during 1979-1989, was certainly the most decisive factor behind the scenes.
Soviet withdrawal – 1989. In 1989, the Afghanistan military forces drove the Soviet army from the country. On February 15, 1989, the withdrawal of the Soviet military forces from Afghanistan began. The withdrawal was led by the last Soviet general-officer Boris Gromov. However, the withdrawal took some time. It was reported that 50,180 Soviet troops withdrew in 1989. The last 50,100 troops were withdrawn during the next year. The convoys’ troops during the entire withdrawal were under attack of Afghanistan fighters. The day when the Soviet army left Afghanistan is proclaimed in the Islamic Republic as a day of defeat of the Soviet army. However, the years of the war were terrible for Afghanistan. Millions of Islamic people ruined their lives fighting in the Soviet-Afghanistan war.
Rise of the Taliban – (1994 – 2001). The Taliban was created afterthe Soviet Union was brought down. It is common to understand that the Taliban is the timeline of the Taliban’s rise to power. Nowadays, Afghanistan’s Islamic Taliban controls nearly an entire Afghanistan. This organization was also suspected to protect Osama bin Laden who is the most notorious person in the modern terroristic world. Previously supported by the USA, Afghanistan created and developed the organization that supported world known terroristic ideas. Moreover, the Taliban became the primary reason for the war against the terrorism.
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The Taliban was founded in the south of Afghanistan in 1989. After the Soviet Army’s withdrawal, the Taliban started its activity. In 2001, the organization was founded in city Kandahar by graduators of a religious college. The main goal of the organization was to stop the chaos, which was in the country after the Soviet withdrawal. In addition, they were aimed to impose the strict interpretation of Islam. The Taliban’s rise to power started many years ago. It happened when the convoy from Pakistan was found by an Afghan warlord in southern Afghanistan (Poolos, 2001). The starting point of Taliban’s creation occurred when a small group of militants came to the rescue to free the convoy and execute hijackers in the desert. That initial public appearance made people accept the Taliban as an honest, fierce, and devoutly Islamic organization. It was the first and the most powerful reformist force after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan-based correspondent, who had reported about Afghanistan and Central Asia for more than 20 years, determined the factors that lead the Taliban to its rise to power. As a matter of fact, there was a great disorder and low crisis in Afghanistan when the Taliban appeared. There was rampant warlordism in Afghanistan. The Taliban appeared as a governed force to establish law and order in the country. Moreover, the Taliban was aimed at wiping out the warlords and imposing Islam. According to Ahmed Rashid, the support that Pakistan provided to the Taliban was mainly aimed at increasing its military capacity. Thanks to this fact, the Taliban took Kabul in 1996. Initially, the Taliban’s forces were embraced by the Afghanistan war (Lewis, 2004). However, their promises to end the chaos of war turned out to the imposition of complete interpretation of the Islamic law. The Taliban’s Activists decreed amputations and executions of criminals. In addition, they imposed severe restrictions on women and banned television. Such measures are considered to be a symbol of the Western decadence (Poolos, 2001).
As a matter of fact, the Taliban was an extremist group, which consisted of politically inexperienced students. It governed Afghanistan during 1996-2001. Analytics argue that the organization ruled by young and inexperienced leaders would never rise to power. There exists a point of view that Taliban had a great financial and political support from Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Pakistan, etc. Ironically, the USA was one of the countries, which supported the Taliban. However, the Taliban was initially accepted by the USA as a stabilizing force, which can ensure the flow of Middle Eastern oil into the West. The first thing that attracted the USA was that the Taliban was an anti-Iran and anti-Shiite organization. Anyway, the USA did not provide them with military support. At this time, the USA was looking for allies it its confrontation with Iran. The USA had a hope that they would find pipeline routes out of the Gulf, which would be under the control of U.S. allies. America had another objective in this situation. It hoped its allies would spread through Pakistan to Gulf.
First, the Taliban was a combination of mujahedeen who were fighting with the Soviet intervention in 1980s and a group of Pashtun tribesmen. In 1994, the Taliban emerged as a force in the Afghanistan politics. It was the middle force between the northern and southern Afghanistan. Initially, the territory this organization held was in the city Kandahar. In the next few years, they expanded their influence and force. In 1996, the Taliban took control of the national government and captured capital Kabul. Before its ouster in 2001, the Taliban controlled 90 percent of the Afghanistan territory. Anyway, the USA never officially recognized the Taliban. Moreover, the USA did its best to ouster the Taliban.
The point is that in 1996 Osama bin Laden got an expulsion from Sudan. He was a Saudi-born extremist who had used the members of his family to assist the Afghan fight against the Soviets. It was made under global pressure and due to his visible terrorist activities. He returned to Afghanistan. The thing is he was later embraced by the Taliban. Osama bin Laden reportedly gave $3 million to boost its flagging military efforts (Poolos, 2001). According to Rashid, the bin Laden’s return into Afghanistan was a turning point in the Taliban’s ideology. One of the main issues is that the majority of their activities were financed by Osama bin Laden. He provided the Taliban with a military force and money (Johnson, 2012). The personality of Osama bin Laden is dominant in the Islamic world. It is seen from the fact that he took part in many business deals and drug trafficking. He introduced the Islamic radicalism either in the world or Arabian countries. He ruled the Taliban in the way he preferred. His main point was not only to turn the Taliban into the sanctuary, but to see it as his own alien.
Governing the country, the Taliban turned out to be as brutal as their predecessors. They killed civilians, burnt houses, and destroyed crops in villages and towns. In the result, Afghanistan people gave up supporting the Taliban’s government. The prominent fact is that it was very hard for the Taliban to recruit Afghan men into its ranks. The cooperation with Osama bin Laden, the disappointment of the Afghan nation, and a proclaimed relation to global terroristic acts underline the fall of the Taliban.
September 11, 2001 and the American Invasion
The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was a reason for the USA to invade Afghanistan. Not all materials related to that drama are available to the public. Official statements often turned out to be contradictory (Johnson, 2012). It appeared that American military forces invaded Afghanistan and Iraq shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It is thought that the USA initially invaded Afghanistan because it is the cradle of the Al Qaeda terrorists. Al Queada is a terroristic organization, which masterminded and executed the September 11 attacks. It is vital to note that the Taliban were firstly supported by the USA, which gave shelter, protection, and permission to Al Qaeda to live and operate in the country (Mahajan, 2002). The fact is that the USA demanded the Taliban extradite the Al Qaeda members to the USA. After the Taliban’s refusal, the USA invaded Afghanistan to eliminate the harsh fanatical Taliban government. America was aimed at proclaiming the democracy for the Afghan people and capturing or killing Al Qaeda.
Concerning Iraq, shortly after Saddam Hussein kicked out the international nuclear and chemical weapons investigators, President Bush was concerned for the USA safety, so America invaded it (Dreyfuss, 2006). The thing is that Iraq refused entry to the international communities’ nuclear and chemical investigators, which caused a global concern. It means no one knew whether or not Iraq actually did have weapons of mass destruction. The American intelligence agencies concluded that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction (Cooley, 2002). However, this intelligence was proved to be inaccurate. Bush was justified for invading Iraq because no one certainly knew if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and could have possibly attacked or threatened any other country in the world, especially after what Al Qaeda did to the US on September 11. It is quite clear that it is better to be safe than sorry. That is why, it made sense for the USA to invade Iraq.
Obama’s New Plan for Afghanistan
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As a matter of fact, American President signed the historical document that is the agreement between the USA and Afghanistan. This agreement will allow building new diplomatic and equal relations between these two countries. Afghanistan is seen as a country responsible for its security in the future. Obama considers it as possible to set an independent and equal partnership between two independent states. The President of the USA insists that he wants to end the war and begin a new chapter in the Afghanistan-USA history. What is significant is that Afghanistan has supported this idea. Admittedly, the USA wants to draw military troops from 90,000 to 20,000 by the end of 2014. The deal promises ten years of commitment to support an unspecified number of troops for training, intelligence, and logistics purposes. The other reason for agreement is to conduct operations against al-Qaeda.
The hostile relations between the West and Middle East have continued during a long time. Sometimes, they seem to be unfinished. However, there are a lot of theories, which prove or disprove some facts about hostility in the Middle East. Afghanistan is a country, which has fought for its independence during a long time. It straggled Britain (three times), the Soviet Union, etc. America often changes its position concerning Afghanistan. It has come a long way from the supporter to the enemy.
However, Afghanistan as well as other Arabian countries attracts attention of the West. Often, it seems to be odd. Anyway, the agreement identifies that countries should be out of any military relations for ten years at least. However, no one knows what games the history plays with us. The partnership that Obama has promised Afghanistan is a baggage. It is obvious that Afghanistan is a very strong and worthy rival. In spite of its poverty, the country resisted many fights. It is impossible to occupy Afghanistan. That is why, it is fruitful idea to make it one’s ally.
To sum it up, it is evident that the experience of the Afghan-Soviet, Afghan-American relations disproves the positive effect of global intervention. However, there are many reasons why the USA invasion has been vital for all world countries. Modern conflicts and usage of nuclear weapon may threat the population of the earth. Conflicts must be solved. Sometimes, the intervention is the best way to protect civilians. However, the history teaches us how to act in the future. The Soviet Union’s invasion in Afghanistan entailed catastrophes for either the Soviet Union or the Afghan nation. . Less obvious at that time were the ultimate directions of the war, like the emergence of the Taliban, Al Qaeda creation, links to America’s horrifying 9/11 catastrophe, and the eventual United States war against Afghanistan.
The desire to modernize Afghanistan army resulted in a request of military equipment from the USA. As the USA refused Afghanistan’s request, Daoud applied to the Soviet Union for military aid. The USSR agreed to assist Afghanistan. In addition, the Soviet has proclaimed close ties between two countries. It was the beginning of the end. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan is very important part of Afghan history. It was established in January 1965. Realization of accepted social and political reforms turned out to be impossible for the current government in Afghanistan. Public disproval of Babrak’s regime brought the Soviet support and initiated the Afghan-Soviet war. The hardest part about the USA was that it supported and funded the Mujahadeen. However, last time it turned out to be the strictest enemy the USA ever met. The terroristic acts provided by an organization related to Afghanistan made America suffer very much. However, the conflict was going on for a long time. It is high time to get an international agreement.