Afghanistan History

Figure 1.--Here we see Afgan children and their mothers on a bus in Paranja during 1961. They are all wearing traditional clothing. I'm not sure when the current traditional styles first appeared.

Afganistan, until September 11, 2001, is a country unfamilar to most Americams. Thus a brief survey of the country's history is necessary to understand Afgani fashion. Afganistan in fact has an incredibly interesting history. Many of the major towns were founded by Alexander the Great. Islam was spread to Afghanistan by the Arabs who with the Turks, Mongols, Persians, and Indian Moguls have ruled the country. The 19th century found Afghanistan as the center of the "Great Game" pitting the Russians in Central Asia with the British in India. Many royal regimes appeared in Afganistan which both welcomed the British and delivered disastrous military defeats. Much of the subsequent history of Afganistan has been the tension betwwen western reformers andIslmaic fundamentalists. More than one Afgani king has been deposed and killed by the fundamentalists. Nadir Shah established a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Despite efforts by NAZI infiltrators, Afghanistan stayed neutral during World War II. After the war the king was deposed and by the 1970s an incresingly pro-Soviet government communist sought tp modernize the country through often brital measures This was met by increasingly successful resistance from the Muhajedeen. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support the beleagered communist regime. After 10 years of bitter fighting, the Soviets finally withdrew, leaving their Afghani allies to their fate. Afghanistan is still a country in which an armed conflict over power between opposing political factions continues. Afghanistan has in the process been devastated, producing the world’s largest ever single refugee case-load, at times as high as 6.2 million persons. Throughout the following years while a bitter struggle over power between the various muhajedeen groups ensued with the strict fundamentalist Tailaban, until November, 2001 and the American war on terrorism, controling most of the country.


Archeologists have found evidenceof human settlement perhaps as ealy as 50,000 BC, although such dating is still speculative with other archeologists believe settlement is most recent. The earliest Archaeological evidence of human habitation has been found from stone age sites at Aq Kupruk and Hazar Sum. Other archeologists report that biolgical studies suggest that the foothill of the Hindu Kush mountains of northern Afghanistan is one of the earliest locations where plants and animals were domesticated.

Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC)

The Nronze age reached Afgahistan some time in the thitd millenium. The first urban centers were Mundigak and Deh Morasi Ghundai. An important agricultural economy developed at Mundigak (near modern day Kandahar) in southern Afghanistan. Agriculture was based on farming (wheat and barley) and livestock (sheep and goats). There are evidence of trade with what is now modern India. Aome archiologusts believe that Mudigak (southern Afghanistan) could have been a provincial outpost of the Indus valley civilization.

Iron Age (2000-1500 BC)

Aryan tribes control in Aryana or Ancient Afghanistan. It is at this time that Kabul appears to have been founded. The Rig Veda may have been created in Afghanistan during this era. An important nomadic iron age site has been found at Aq Kapruk IV.

Zoroaster (600 BC)

Zoroaster introduces a new religion in Bactria (modern Balkh) (approximately 522 BC. Zoroastrianism is one of the first Monotheistic religions. ) Nomadic invaders kill Zoroaster near Balkh. Zoroastrianism becomes the religion of the Persian Empire.

Achaemenid Persian Empire

Persia was the dominant force in the 6th century BC. Darius the Great (522-486 BC) expanded the Persian Empire to its greatest extent. Darius conquer and added most of Afghanistan to his Empire. Afghanist was not an easy province to subdue and the Persions experienced periodic insurgencies. Tribal revolts in Arachosia (Kandahar and Quetta) were especially bloody.

Alexander the Great (329-326 BC)

Alexander defeats Darius III at the Gaugamela (331 BC). It was a titantic battle in which Alexander desively defeats Darius' huge army. Darius flees, but after Gaugamela there is no longer organized Persian resistance to Alexander. Alexander invades and conquers much of Afghanistan. Afghanistan did not offer the riches of Persia and Alexander could not afford to deplete his small army for garrisin duty. His hold is thus transitory and he does not subdue the Afgghan tribes. Many of the major towns in Afgahistan were founded by Alexander the Great at this time.

Parthian Empire (170- BC)

The Bactrian or Parthian Empire conquers Afghanistan (about 170-160 BC). The Romans never reached Afghanistan as their expasion into Asia was blocked by the Parthian Empire who destroyed several Roman armies.

Kushan Empire (50-220 AD)

King Kanishka was the most important rukler of the Kushan Empire. Under rule, under Kanishka Graeco-Buddhist Gandharan culture flourishes. The Kushan Empire evebtusally fragments into a number petty dynasties. Here geography is a factor.

The Huns (400 AD)

The White Huns invaded and devestated Afghanistan. They destroy the Buddhist culture that was florishing at the time.

Yaftalee (425-550 )

Independent Yaftalee doimated Afghanistan.

Persian Empire (550)

A revived Persian Empire conquered Afghanistan. There is periodic resistance to Persian rule on the part of Afghan tribes.

The Arabs (652)

The Arabs fired with Islam burst out of the Arabic Peninsula and smasj the Persian Empire. Thc Arabs introduce Islam to Afghanistan (652 AD).

Ghaznavid Dynasty (962-1140)

The Ghaznavid Dynasty establihes Islam throughout Afghanistan. Under the Ghaznavid, Afghanistan became an important Islamic center, both in military value and culture. The scientist Ibn Sina was vorn in Balkh (980). Mahmud Ghazni died (1030). After Mahmud dies intercine conflicts between his descendents weaken the Empire.

The Ghorid (1140- )

The Ghorid from central Afghanistan seize and destroy Ghazni (1140). They then move south to conquer India.

The Mongols (1219- )

The Mongols under Genghis Khan invade Afghanistan (1219-21). The Mongols burn and destroy. The most wanten act was the destruction of the irrigation systems. Large areas of fertile land wwere turmned into desert. Marco Polo passed through Afganistan/Turkistan during the reign of Kubla Khan (1273). For a short period, the Ghorids regain control in Afghanistan (1332-70). Timour-i-Lang (Tamerlane). a grandon of Genghis reassers Mongol rule (1370-1404). He is unable to compleletly stamp out continuing Afghan resistance

Lodi Dynasty

The Afghan leader Buhlul invaded India and seized the Delhi throne (1451). Buhlul founded the Lodi dynasty.

The Moghuls (1504- )

Another Mongol, Babur, seizes Kabul. He moves south to found the great Moghul Empire in India. Afghanistan becomes a minor province of the Moghul. The fghans were restive under Moghul rule. An Afghan writer and nationalist Bayazid Roshan leads a revoly against the Moghuls. Roshan was killed in fighting (1579), but the Moghuls were unable to stamp out Afghan resistance.

Commerce and Communication

Afghanistan is located on the fringe of central Asia, but close to Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. Through much of its history it was at the crossroads of intellectual ferment as conquers, merchants, and religious peple crossed through Afghanistan. The Silk Road in particular had routes which ran through the country. This changed with the Moghul conquest. Afghanistan became closed to outside influences and did not enter the modern world. This was not just the impact of the Moghuls, but the decline of the Silk Road as a result of the expansion of maritime commerce led by the European powers. The poet-warrior Khushhal Khan Khattak (1613-89) launched a national revolt against Moghul rule.

Persia (1622-1747)

The histories of Afghanistan and Persia were intertwined in the 17th and 18th centuries. Safavid Persia seized control of Afghanistan (1622). Mir Wais establishes an independent principality arond Kandahar (1708). Mir Wais died and was buried in a in a mausoleum near Kandahar (1715). His son, Mir Mahmud, invadeed Persia and seized Isfahan (1722). To the north of Kandahar the Durranis revolt, ending Persian control. occupation of Herat. Mir Mahmud begins to grow mad and is killed under disputed ctrcumstances (1725). Afghan power declined. Persian ruler Nadir Shah reassets control of southeast Persia as well as southwest Afghanistan (1736). Nadir Shah finally seizes Kandahar (1738). Nadir Shah was assassinated (1747). The Afghans staged a national rizing led by Ahmad Shah Abdali and retake Kandahar. Afghani historians view this as the creation of modern Afghanistan.

Other Rulers

Islam was spread to Afghanistan by the Arabs who with the Turks, Mongols, Persians, and Indian Moguls have ruled the country.

The Great Game

The 19th century found Afghanistan as the center of the 'Great Game' pitting the Russians in Central Asia with the British in India. Also part part of the Great Game was Islamic findamentalism in Afghanistan. Many royal regimes appeared in Afganistan which both welcomed the British and delivered disastrous military defeats. Much of the subsequent history of Afganistan has been the tension between western reformers and Islamaic fundamentalists. More than one Afgani king has been deposed and killed by the fundamentalists. The two most important events of the Graat Game were the First and Second Anglo-Afghan Wars. The British controlling India, sought to expand its control over neighbouring Afghanistan tonthe north and to oppose increasing Russian influence there. A protracted Agahni civil war broke out (1816). The Bārakzay clan emerged as the ruling dynasty. The clan was dominated by Dōst Moḥammad Khan who who seized the throne (1826). Britain and Russia maneuvered for influence. Dōst Moḥammad was attempted to balance Afghanistan between the influence of the great powers. The British concluded that Dōst Moḥammad was basically hostile to them or at least unable to resist Russian penetration. They moved to take a direct role in Afghan affairs. They attempted to negotiate Dōst Moḥammad, but finally Governor-General of India, Lord Auckland, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to restore exiled Afghan ruler Shah Shojāʿ to the throne. The result was the first Adghan War (1839-42). Three decades later, relations flared up again as the British wrestled withbthe issues of empire. It was a primary issue in the decades-long struugle between Queen Victoria favorite Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Disraeli was an empire builder. He appointed Lord Lytton to the office of Governor-General of India (1875). Lytton during became concerned primarily with India’s relations with Afghanistan. Russian influence was growing in Central Asia, including Afghanistan. This was growing concern to the British Government and Lytton had ordered resit this or at least to establish a strong border frontier, by force if necessary. Thus Lytton after arriving in India, informed Emir Shīr ʿAlī Khan—the third son of Dōst Moḥammad, who had risen to the throne when his father died, that he was sending a mission to Kabul. The Emir refused to allow Lytton's mission permission to enter Afghanistan. Lytton was furious. He dismissively exclaimed that Afghanistan was but 'an earthen pipkin between two metal pots'. He did not, however, act immediately. This changed when the Emir allowed a Russian mission headed by General Stolyetov to enter Kabul (178). Lytton’s mission headed by Sir Neville Chamberlain was refused entry at the border by Afghan troops. Ths result was the Second Afghan War (1878-80). Eventually British and Afghani diplomats agreed to a boundary which became known as the Durand Line (1893). It created a long 2,640 kilometers (1,640 mi) and porous border. The Durand Line was agreed to by Mortimer Durand from the British India and Afghan Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. It was designed to fix the border as part of a process of improving diplomatic relations and trade. Afghanistan was considered by the British as an independent princely state, one of many such states on the Indian Subcontunent and a part of the British Raj. The British as part of the Great Game controlled both its foreign affairs and diplomatic relations.

World War I 1914-18)

Britain's primary concern for the security of the Raj during the late-19th century was Russia. This began to change after Kaisser Wilhelm II allowed the alliamce with Russia lapse and began an increaingly boisterous and aggressive foreign policy as well as to build a blue water navy. The British Committee of Imperial Defense concluded that "...the gates of India are in Afghanistan and the problem of Afghanistan dominates the situation in India...." (1907). But as Russia signed a treaty with France and Germany loomed larger in British defense calculations, earlier security asessment disapated. The Ottoman Empire after entering the War on the side of the Central Powers pushed for Afghanistan to join them. The Sultan (as titular leader of Islam) called for a holy war against the Allies. The Afghans like the Egyptians did not awswer the call. The British for their part wanted noithing more than a quiet frontier so they were feww to deployed the Indian Army to the Middle East. The Afghans did accept a Turkish-German mission in Kabul and military assistance from the Central Powers. Amir Habibullah Khan attempted to play off both sides of the War in order to obtain military equipment and economic advantage. [Molesworth, p.20] He resisted numerous requests for involvement from both sides. He was unable to reign in tribal leaders determined on attacking British rule in India, especially along the Northwest Frontier. Turkish agents also attempted to foment trouble along the frontier. [Barthorp, p. 149] The departure of a large part of the British Indian Army to fight overseas, primarily in the Middle East weakened the British position in India. News of Turkish viuctories in Mesopotamia helped Turksish agants to promote sedition. There was some unrest among the Mohmands and then the Mahsuds (1915). The frontier generally remained settled, however, during the War when the British were in a very weak position. Afghanistan remained neutral, but Habibullah was assasinated after the War (1919).

Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919)

Afghanistan stayed out of World War I, but for poorly understood reasonms decided after the War to make war on the British by invading India. The Third Anglo-Afghan War proved to be one of Britain’s shortest wars, lasting only about 3 months during the summer of 1919 (May 6-August 8). It was a war the British public knew next to nothing about. It went almost unreported, even in British newspapers. Most Britions did not even know it took place. Unlike the previous wars, 1839-42 and 1878-80), the Third War was an Afghan incursions into British-controlled areas of the Indian Northwest Frontier. The Aghans did no do well militarily, but the war ended with gains on both sides. The Afghans manage to win back full control of foreign affairs from Britain, essentially meaning complele independence [Barthorp, p. 157] The British got what they most wanted. The Afganis accepted the the Durand Line as the boundary between Afghanistan and the Raj. The Afghans agreed not to foment trouble over the border which of course did not mean that tribal leaders would not do so. The writ of the Afghan Government did not extend effectively into the tribal areas.

Amanullah Khan

Habibullah after the assasinatiin was replaced by Amir Amanullah. He steered a pro-Soviet course while supporting Pan-Islamism and militant tribalism to the extent of fighting, and losing, the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Amanullah Khan initiated a series of impressive efforts to promote social and political modernization. He chsanged his title from Amir to Padshah (King) (1923). His efforts to modernize Afghanistan as would the fate of other modrrnizers was to lose popular support and the rise of internal revolt and civil war.

Habibullah Kalakani (1929)

Habibullah Kalakani overthrew Amanullah Khan (1929). Mahmud Tarzi seeks asylum in Turkey. Kalakani is known as Bache Saqao.

Nadir Khan

Nadir Khan leading a tribal army sizes control in Kabul. His army looted government buildings and when they found the treasury empty, they broke into the houses of wealthy people. Nadir Khan ordered the execution of Habibullah Kalakani and his supporters was well as some supporters of Amanullah Khan. This lefts Nadir Khan in full control of the country. He supressed a Pro-Amanullah Khan uprising. Nadir Khan immediately abolishes the progressive reforms instututed by Amanullah Khan. Nadir Shah established a constitutional monarchy in 1932. A college studen objecting to the Nadir Khan's suppression of the modernization effort, assassinated Nadir Khan. Nadir's son, Zahir, inherits the throne. Zahir Khan rules Afgahnistan until 1973. Zahir Shah's unceles serve as prime ministers and advisors until 1953. The United States officially recognizes Afghanistan (1934). Da Afghanistan Bank (State Bank of Afghanistan) is incorporated (1938). A small pro-Amanullah Khan uprising was supressed (1939).

World War II

NAZI infiltrators attempted to play on anti-British sentiment. Nadir proclaimed Afghanistan neutral (1940). Afghanistan remained neutral throughout World War II. India seemed secure as Hitler moved toward war in Europe. Stalin and the Soviet Union was stridently anti-NAZI. The British were shocked when Stalin agreed to an alliance with Hitler (August 1939). The sutuation changed again when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941). The British laid anti-tank mines in the Khyber Pass in case the Germans defeated the Soviet Union and German Panzers moved toward India. The NAZI threat was seriously lessened when the Whermact failed to destroy the Red Army in what Hitler thought would be a short summer cammpaign. Barbasrossa ended with a RedArmy counter-offensive before Moscow which occurred just as the Japsanese struck Pearl Harbor creating a new threat to India. eakened

Indian Independence and Southern Asian Boundaries

Britain granted India independence and withdrew from the Subcontinent (1947). Pakistan was created out of Muslim lands in northern amd eastern areas of the Raj. Some ethnic Afghan-populated lands were included in West Pakistan. Afghanistan's Parliament denounced the Durand Treaty and refuses to recognize the Durand line as a legal boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pashtuns in Pashtunistan (Pakistan occupied Afghan lands) proclaimed an independent Pashtunistan (1949). Their proclamation went largely unnoticed by the international press. Pakistan was a more modern country with a stronger military so there was no way for Afghanistan to secure border modifications. Pakistan even took on India over border issues, primarily concerning Khasmir.

Cold War

King Zahir Shah reigned for 40 years. He sucessfuly maintained his country neutrality during World War II. And in the subsequent Cold War, he showcased the ability of a non-aligned country to obtain benefits from the major internation powers. Both the United States and the Soviet Union financed highways and hospitals. King Zahir's cousin and brother-in-law, Daud Khan, oversaw this effort as well as promoiting modrnization and reforms. Afghanistan bordered on the Soviet Union . It was the weakest border country. As a result, the Soviets began to undermine the centratist Government in this neutralist oriented country. The King attempted to promote Afghan interests in the face of increasing Soviet pressure. The Communist Party made klittle headway in the country. It remained a very small urban movement. The one area of support was the Afghan Army which was being armed and trained by the Soviets. Communists seized power and attempted to force Communism on the Afghan people, often by brutal measures. This gave birth to the anti-Communist Mujahideen resistance movement. They were poorly armed, but while the Army leadership was pro-Soviet, the soldiers had little commiment to the fight. They began to desert with their arms. The Government began to lose control of large areas of the countryside. Finally the Soviets seeing material support for the Communist Government was not working, sent in troops supported by air power to fight the Mujahideen (1979).

Afghanistan begins to change

Prince Mohammad Daoud became Prime Minister under the monarchy of his first cousin Zahir Shah. Daoud began to pursue progressive idea in a very conservarive Muslim country, including women's rights and economic moderization (1953). He implemented two five-year modernization plans. His progressive attitudes did not include press freeedom, especially the right to critize him and his government. He also engaged in widespread nepotism. The Daoud Goverments attempted to purchase American arms so it could modernize its army (1954). The Eisenhower Government turned down the request. Prime Minister Daoud turned to the Soviet Union for military assistance (1955). The Pashtunistan issue with Pakistan comes up again. The new Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev agreed to help Afghanistan (1956). This is the beginning of closer relations between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Soviet puppet state Bulgaria plays a role in the arms shipments. Daoud continued to push for women's rights (1959). Purdah is made optional. Women were allowed to enroll in the University which is made co-educational. Women began to openly enter the workforce, including government positions. Pakistan and Afghanistan came close to war over the Pashtunistan issue (1961). King Mohammed Zahir Shah commanded Daoud to resign. Dr. Mohammad Yusof replaced him as Prime Minister (1964).

Rise of Communism

Communists including Babrak Karmal secretly form the Afghan Communist People's Democratic Party (PDPA) (1965). The Communits are a very small elite group in Kabul and the other cities. There is also no following in the countryside. The first nationwide elections under the new constitution are held. Karmal was elected to the Parliament, but later promoted riots. King Zahir Kahn and Yussof formed a second government. The second nationwide elections were held (1969). Karmal was reelected to Parliament along with Hafizullah Amin. Mohammad Moussa was appointed Prime Minister (1972). While King Zahir Shah takes a vacation in Europe, Daoud Khan and the PDPA staged a coup. Daoud abolished the monarchy and established the Republic of Afghanistan. He is declares the first President of Afghanistan (1973). His increasingly pro-Soviet government seeks to modernize the country, not infrequenyly resorting to brutal measures against the conservative Muslim opposition. UNESCO names Herat as one of the first cities to be designated as a part of the worlds cultural heritage (1974). Daoud introduced a new constitution. Women's rights are ensrined in the new constitution. Daoud begins to oust suspected opponents from his government, including FDPA members.

Communist Coup: Saur Revolution (April 1978)

Karmal and Amin as part of the PDPA stage the Saur Revolution. This was the overthrow of the centrist Afghanistan government (April 1978) by left-wing military officers. They turned over cointrol to two Marxist-Leninist political parties (PDPA), the Khalq ('Masses') and Parcham ('Flag'). They formed had formed a coalition--the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Daoud who made the mistake of allying himself with the Communists was assainated. PDPA leader Nur Muhammad Taraki is named President. He appoints Karmal deputy Prime Minister. There was little popular support, especially outside of Kabul and the other cities. Not only was their little support in the countryside, there was considerable and growing opposition. The new PDPA Government forged close ties with the Soviet Union. This would be the case as fraternal Communiust Party, but in the case of Afghanistan there was very little domestic support. The PDPA answer was to launch a ruthless purge of any domestic opposition. This worked un Eastern Europe, but floundered in Afghanistan. The Government began a major land and social reform program. It was actively opposed by the country's devoutly Muslim clergy and population which meant anti-Communist population.

Open warfare (1978-79)

Considerable resistance to the Communist PDPA Governments among tradition-bound Afganis. And this only increased as the PDPA adopted brutal repression to deal with their opponenbts. Taraki and his associates respond as in other Communist countries with mass arrests. Those arrested were tortured to obtain information and to intimidate thosw who were not executed. President Taraki signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union. The Soviets expanded military support. Resistance increased and fighters founded the Mujahideen movement. The name Mujahideen was originally used by the to Afghan fighters who opposed the British Raj's actions into Afghanistan (19th century). The British were reacting to Afghan raids along the Noerthwest Frontier. The name 'Mujahideen' comes from the same Arabic root as jihad, meaning 'struggle'. The Mujahideen saw themselves as Islamic warriors defending their country from atheistic Communism. They arose from village militias organized by local warloads. They oppsed the Soviet armed Afghani Army which attempted to bring Communism to the countryside. This occurred at the local level with no national coordination. The reflected Afghnistan's ethnic diversity, including Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks and others. Some were Shi'a with ties to Irab, but most were Sunni Muslims. As Soviet involvement deepened, Muslims from other countries volunteered to join the Mujahideen fighters. A few Arabs (including Osama bin Laden), abd fighters from nearr by Chechnya came to join in the fight. The poorly armed Mujahideen had considerable popular support and a substantial opposition formed to the country's repressive and atheist Communist Government. The Soviets initially believed the Mujahideen rebellion could be handled by the Afghan Army that they had trained and armed. The fight did not go well for the PDPA Government. The Soviet backed and equipped Army showed little commitment to fight the Mujahideen. The substantial Army was rapidly reduced by mass desertions. Many soldiers deserted with their weapons. The Afghan Army remained largely ineffective throughout the fight with the Mujahideen. The Government rapidly lost control of large areas of the countryside and appeals for Soviet intervention. At this stage there was little or no American support for the Mujahideen

Soviet Invasion (1979-89)

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support the beleagered communist regime (1979). Russian paratroopers landed in Kabul (December 1979). A civil war was raging between the Communist Government and much of the tradition-bound population in the countryside, abd the Government was losing. Loyal Communist, Prime Minister Hazifullah Amin, was trying to uproot centuries of Islamic tradition and repace it with a Soviet-style people's repulic. Much of the country was outraged. The Government arrested thousands of Muslim leaders and many more fled Kabul to the mountains in an effort to eavade Amin's secret police. It was not just a matter of tradition, Amin's communist government was atheist and wanted to pdopt atheist campaign. President Carter was shocked. His response was to boycott the Olympic Games held in Moscow. Thousands of Afghanis flocked to join the Mujahdeen, both to resist the Russians and to protect Islam. They were determined to overthrow of the Amin government. The Mujahdeen declared jihad, holy war , on the Russians and Amin. The Soviets claimed that they had been invited in by the independent Amin government and that they were protecting a friendly government from the Mujahdeen that they saw as terrorists. The Soviets and their Afghan allies proved both brutal and increasingly unpopular. Disatisgied with Amin's performance, the Soviets shot him and installed Babrak Kamal. Besieged in the countryside, Kamal was totally dependent of the Soviets. Many soldiers in the Soviet equipped Afghan Army deserted to join the Mujahdeen. Kamal needed 85,000 Soviet soldiers to remain in power. The Soviets were able to control the cities, but at first not the countryside. Soviet airpower gradually gained increasing control and wreaked heavy casualties on the Mujahideen. An unlikely partnership between Texas congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA saw to it that the Mujahideen got stinger missles. This erased the Soviet airpower factor. And without it the Soviets could not extert effective control beyond the cities. After 10 years of bitter fighting, the Soviets finally withdrew (1989). They left their Afghani allies to their fate.

Civil War (1989-96)

Afghanistan is still a country in which an armed conflict over power between opposing political factions continues dominated by war lords. Afghanistan was in the process been devastated, producing the world’s largest ever single refugee case-load, at times as high as 6.2 million persons. Throughout the following years while a bitter struggle over power between the various Mujahideen groups ensued with the fiercly fundamentalist Tailaban finally gaining control of the country.

The Taliban

The Taliban is a hanafi Islamist political group. The Taliban is a hybrid religious-nationalist movement. The religious element is Hanafi traditionalists. The nationalist elemment are ardent Pashtoon Nationalists. The core of the Taliban is the Ghilzai and allied tribes. Following the departure of the Soviets (1989), the Taliban fought for control of the country in the Afghan civil war. They managed to exert control of most of the country (1996). Only a small area of the northeast defended by the Norther Alliance remained beyound their control. They imposed a strict fundamentalist regume on the country. Violators were arrested and executed in public fora. Women found it difficult to work and the education of girls ceased. Un-Islamic art work was destroyed, including the famous ????? giant Buddhas. The Taliban also offered safe have to Osama bin-Laden and al-Qaida. This was a factor in the planning of the 9-11 attacks on the United States.

Afgahistan Today

The United States struck back against the Taliban which had harborded Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida (November 2001). United States Special Forces and the Northern Alliance defeated the Taliban in a rapid military campaign. The Taliban especially since 2004 has managed to regroup, especially in Pashtun areas in the south. They have mounted a guerrilla insurgency against the governments of Afghanistan and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. They are also active in Pakistan from where thgey both funnel supplies into Afghanistan and offer safe haves to Tailban fighters. The Taliban movement was primarily recruited from ethnic Pashtun tribes, but in recent years volunteers desiring to wage jihad have joined the campaign, including Uzbeks, Tajiks, Punjabis, Arabs, Chechens, and others. br>


Barthorp, Michael. Afghan Wars and the North-West Frontier 1839–1947. London: Cassell, 2002).

Molesworth, George. Afghanistan 1919—An Account of Operations in the Third Afghan War (New York: Asia Publishing House, 1962).


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Created: 5:19 AM 8/1/2004
Last updated: 12:04 AM 10/30/2019