Afghanistan is located in southern Asia, East of Iran and spread out across the north and west of Pakistan.
It covers a total area of 647,500 square miles, which makes it almost as vast as the state of Texas. Its borders meet with China, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The population is over 33,600,000 and is divided into thirty four provinces.However, the facts and figures stated above have come into existence after decades of war and instability in the country.
The country has been the center of instability for the region in the last century and significant event include the Soviet Invasion and Talibanisation.This paper shall attempt to shed light on the country in terms of the trends that events tend to take during a course of events in this particular country. By doing so, the paper will endeavor to provide a perspective through which the country should be viewed under the current Obama Administration.Of the many events and incidents that have occurred in the country, the Soviet Invasion has been the one that has casted the longest shadows upon the future of the country.It would not be unjustified to state that the current situation prevalent in Afghanistan owes its origins to the Soviet Invasion as well. Light shall now be shed upon the characters, characteristics and affects of the Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan.
Beginning from the Soviet Invasion, the paper will then delve into the next phase of direct interaction that the US and Afghanistan went through following the 9/11 attacks.Soviet invasion – 1979The Soviet Invasion of 1979 was one that shook the world and has shown its affects across the decades that came after it. This nine year long had its channels of support rooted deep down into the Col War.Hence, we can deduce that the following paragraphs will not simple be elaborating upon the Soviet Invasion of 1979, but will be presenting details of a war that was nothing less than a sequel to the Cold War.
The Soviet Invasion was also termed as Soviet Afghan war because the two characters on the forefront of the Soviet Union supporting the Marxist’s Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan, and the opposing forces of the Afghan Mujahedeen. The two fought for almost a decade with the eventual withdrawal of Soviet Forces from Afghan territory bringing the war to an end.However, these were only characters in the forefront of the war. Characters behind the curtain included the American CIA, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nation. This setup led to a war so brutal that it is often termed as the Vietnam War in the case of the Soviet Union.
Weapons trade deals and covert training from silent allies were heavily observed during the period of the cold war.It is important to note at this point that the original conflict was between the Mujahedeen of the Jamiat Islami party and the Afghan government.The Afghan government was under the threat of being overrun by the Jamiat Islami party and it therefore requested assistance from the Soviet Union. In the mean while, the commanders of the Jamiat Islami party used the war principle, my enemy’s enemy is my friend, to acquire allies to fuel its offence.
American responseIt was not until the Soviet Union chose to let the Afghan government develop it into a part of the equation as well that the American CIA decided to become a covert and propaganda based part of the war as well. Records show that this milestone was recorded to have occurred on December 24, 1979 and the CIA began aiding the Afghan Rebels soon afterwards in 1980.At the end of the Afghan government, the tables had begun to turn by April 1978 as the special committee that the Soviet Union had established on the ongoing afghan war began to detect an element of betrayal in Amin’s attitude. Amin was a leader of one of the two factions into which the Marxist Peoples’ Democratic Party of Afghanistan had split in 1967.The extensive breaking up of factions within the Afghan government led to a large number of executions and exiles.
By around March 1980, the Soviet forces were fighting the Mujahedeen in guerilla battles across the country.It was the CIA program called Operation Cyclone that brought the infamous Osama Bin Laden to Afghanistan as part of its strategy to encourage Muslim nations to bring fighters into Afghanistan to fight for the rebel’s cause by motivating them on grounds of fighting atheist communists.Soviet withdrawal – 1989The official signs of Soviet withdrawal were witnessed around mid 1987 and Soviet forces took on a defensive role in the battle field. Soviet forces chose to withdraw their troops in two halves. The first half withdrew late in 1988 and the second half followed early in 1989.
Soviet forces had to abandon certain regions as a part of their withdrawal and a majority of these regions were left in the hands of the administration of Afghan President Kirmal.One of the most notable parts of this withdrawal can be seen in the fact that the Geneva Accord was signed as a part of the mechanism of this withdrawal and primarily encompassed Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and the Soviet Union.The Geneva Accord served to strengthen the Afghan government and allowed the Soviet Forces to make haste in the process of their withdrawal. A large number of weapons, munitions and military vehicles including tanks were left behind by the Soviet Forces, many of which were later brought into use by Afghan factions in the future and were also observed in action by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the Taliban later during the American Invasion.Rise of the TalibanFollowing the withdrawal of Soviet Forces, the Taliban steadily grew stronger and from 1994 to 2001, they worked extensively on their development and accumulation of covert allies and resource so much so that by 1996, they had once more taken control of Kabul by toppling the government. It was around the same time that the Northern Alliance came into being (Gohari, 2000).
The Northern Alliance was formed by Uzbek General Dostum and Tajik Ahmed Shah Massoud for the singular purpose of eliminating the Taliban from Afghanistan. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) ended up taking sids in this tussle between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance and covert arms deals were carried out frequently amongst the two opposing factions.By this time, the situation in Afghanistan had grown so influences that the political instability of their country was having upon the social and economic infrastructure of Afghan Society. In 1997, the Taliban managed to defeat General Dostum and by August 8, 1998, the Taliban were in control of more than seventy percent of Afghanistan.During the course of these events, Osama Bin Laden had managed to form close ties with the Taliban by assisting the Taliban in achieving various goals (Gohari, 2000). For instance, it was Osama Bin Laden who trained Mullah Omar’s men and killed Ahmed Shah Massoud for the Taliban through a suicide bombing.
By this time, the situation in Afghanistan had begun to ring bells in the Pentagon and the CIA had already begun close observation of the behaviors being shown by the active factions in Afghanistan. After the Soviets had left, the Taliban systematically took control of Afghanistan and expanded their influence.They refined their skills of employing surveillance and media as techniques to persuade people to join their cause (Crews & Tarzi, 2008).It would not be unjustified to say that Afghanistan began to take the form of a terrorist camp at this point. Al-Qaeda had insecurely existed in the form of small groups, but Afghanistan proved to be a platform for AL-Qaeda where these groups could reorganize and strengthen their framework (Burke, 2004).
September 11, 2001On the 11th of September, 2001, Al-Qaeda launched a series of coordinated suicidal air strikes upon American civil and defense installations by using civilian aircrafts. A total of four civilian airliners were hijacked and used as weapons to carry out this task. Two of the four were crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.One was crashed into the Pentagon while one did not come to the conclusion planned by Al-Qaeda as it crashed into a rural area in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (Chomsky, 2001).
Any mention of this fourth flight would be incomplete without mentioning that the fourth aircraft was also bound to carry out a suicidal attack on civilian installations by the hijackers but the plan was foiled by the selfless and brave actions of the passengers who were aboard the aircraft. None of the passengers or flight crew from the four flights survived the crashes (Langley, 2006).