Skip to comments.History of Afghanistan
Posted on 09/16/2001 9:25:20 PM PDT by super175Edited on 04/29/2004 1:58:48 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
Located just northwest of the modern day India, Afghanistan has long served as the northwestern border and gateway for the Indian civilization. Various Indian emperors have ruled the region over the last 3,000 years and its close relations with the rest of India have been well documented by historians.
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The capture of Kabul by the Taleban on 26 September 1996 quickly realigned political forces within Afghanistan and the region. The non-Pashtun forces allied again as they did in the Northern Alliance of 1992. The anti-Taleban Northern Alliance is composed of the ousted ethnic Tajik president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and their Jamiat-i-Islami forces, and General Abdul Rashid Dostum and the ethnic Uzbek Junbish-i-Milli party. The Northern Alliance is headed by nominal President Rabbani, who holds power with de facto Defense Minister Masood as his primary military backer. After the defeat of the Tajik Commander Masood, the Alliance was clearly under the leadership of the Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic Movement) - After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the non-Pashtun militias in the north centered in the city of Mazar-i Sharif, constituted themselves into a new organization, the Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic Movement), founded by General Abdul Rashid Dostum, whose base of support lies primarily among the Sunni Muslim Uzbeks. A large number of fighters forming part of this organization (the numbers vary between 15,000 and 160,000) had a reputation of being the best equipped of Afghanistan. General Abdul Rashid Dostum received support from Uzbekistan and from Russia. He had formed an alliance with G. Hikmatyar in 1994 and was part of the alliance formed against B. Rabbani, the Supreme Coordination Council. Dostum and Commander Abdul Malik shared nominal control of five to six north central provinces. In May 1997, Dostum was defeated in battle by Malik, who defected to the Taleban and subsequently fled the country. The Taleban managed briefly to enter Mazaar-i-Sharif, though they were forced out within days after heavy street fighting. General Dostum, who had held overall control of the city, then fled the country and his faction split. In September 1997 General Dostum returned from exile in Turkey.
Jamiat-i Islami (Islamic Society) In 1973 Burhanuddin Rabbani, a lecturer at the sharia (Islamic law) faculty of Kabul University, was chosen as chairman of Jamiat-i Islami, a predominately Tajik Islamist party which developed as the dominant party in the Persian speaking areas of northeastern and western Afghanistan. At first Rabbani received some financial and material support from the Government of Saudi Arabia, but this appears to have ended in 1993. Former President Rabbani claims to be the head of the Government and controls most of the country's embassies abroad and retains Afghanistan's UN seat after the U.N. General Assembly deferred a decision on Afghanistan's credentials. Rabbani received nominal support from General Malik (until he was driven out of Afghanistan), from General Dostum, and the Shi'a/Hazara Hezb-i-Wahdat.
Rabbanis famous Mujahideen military commander Ahmad Shah Masood built the most sophisticated military-political organization, the Supervisory Council of the North (SCN-Shura-yi Nazar-i Shamali). The SCN coordinated Jamiat commanders in about five provinces and also created region-wide forces which developed into Masoods Islamic Army (Urdu-yi Islami). Rabbani and Masood control the northeastern, largely Tajik, portion of the country, including the strategic Panjshir valley north of Kabul. The area includes the opium-growing area of Badakhshan. Some of Masood's commanders in the north reportedly use torture routinely to extract information from and break the will of prisoners and political opponents; some of the victims are said to have been tortured to death.
The conflict in Afghanistan has continued to have an international dimension, both from political and economic perspectives.
The United States is intent on offseting Iranian influence on the spread of terrorism and expansion of markets in the region.
Russia had backed B. Rabbanis government in Kabul and feared that a Pakistani backed Pashtun movement such as the Taleban would be expansionist, threatening Russias interests in Central-Asian countries. Russia has provided Dostem with 500 T55 and T62 tanks that are used against areas that oppose his rule. Russia has also provided Dostem with a large number of Frog 7 and Luna M missiles. Uzbekistans President Islam Karimov had clandestinely supported his fellow Uzbek, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, with tanks, aircraft and technical personnel, with an expectation that Uzbek dominated provinces in northern Afghanistan would provide a buffer against the spread of fundamentalism from Afghanistan.
Tajikistan, racked by civil war and with a government backed by Russian troops, has been sympathetic to fellow Tajiks led by President B. Rabbani. Many Afghan Tajiks also support the idea of a greater Tajikistan - merging Tajik areas of Afghanistan with Tajikistan. India in the early 1990s provided technical and financial assistance to Rabani and his military commander Masood. India, according to charges by the Taleban, is using "hirelings in Afghanistan to commit terrorist acts against Afghan men, women, and children."
The Taleban ("the Seekers") was formed in September of 1994 in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar by a group of graduates of Pakistani Islamic colleges (madrassas) on the border with Afghanistan, run by the fundamentalist Jamiat-e-Ulema. The members of the Taleban Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (TIMA) are mostly Pashtuns from Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan and are led by a mullah (a village-level religious leader), Mohammad Omar. The Taleban advocated an Islamic Revolution in Afghanistan, proclaiming that the unity of Afghanistan should be re-established in the framework of Sharia (Islamic law) and without the mujahedin. Their fighting ranks are mostly filled with former veterans of the war against Soviet forces. On 11 September 1996 the Taleban captured Jalalabad, the eastern city bordering Pakistan and on 27 September 1996 they captured Kabul, ousting the government. They took former President Najibullah and his brother from a UN compound where they had taken refuge since the fall of his Soviet-backed governmentin April 1992, beat them severely and then hanged them from lamposts in the city center. As of the beginning of June 1997, the Taleban effectively controled two-thirds of the country.
The Taleban have applied a strict interpretation of Sharia, enforcement of which is administered by the "Department for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice." In Kabul soldiers have searched homes for evidence of cooperation with the former authorities or for violations of Taleban religious-based decrees, including depictions of living things (photographs, stuffed toys, etc.) Individuals were beaten on the streets by Taleban militia for what were deemed infractions of Taliban rules concerning dress, hair length, and facial hair, as well as for restriction on women being in the company of men. The Taleban require women to wear strict Islamic garb in public, and Taleban gender restrictions continue to interfere with the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance to women and girls. According to regulations, a man who has shaved or cut his beard may be imprisoned until his beard grows back. Beards must protrude farther than would a fist clamped at the base of the chin.
The country was effectively partitioned between areas controlled by Pashtun and non-Pashtun forces, as the Taleban now controlled all the predominantly Pashtun areas of the country (as well as Herat and Kabul), while non-Pashtun organizations controlled the areas bordering on the Central Asian republics whose populations are ethnically non-Pashtun, such as Uzbeks and Tajiks. Reconstruction continues in Herat, Kandahar, and Ghazni, areas which are under firm Taliban control.
In October 1997 the Taliban changed the name of the country to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with Mullah Omar, who had previously assumed the religious title of Emir of the Faithful, as head of state. There is a six-member ruling council in Kabul but ultimate authority for Taliban rule rested in the Taliban's inner Shura (Council), located in the southern city of Kandahar, and in Mullah Omar.
Pakistan has long sought to gain some influence over a neighbor with whom it shares a long and exceedingly porous border. The Taleban were initially trained by the Frontier Constabulary, a para-military force of the Interior Ministry of Pakistan, which at the time was headed by Gen. Nasrullah Babar. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not involved in the earlier stages of Taleban development, continuing to support the Hizb-i-Islami under Hikmatyar to dislodge the Rabbani government. Pakistan feared that an exclusively non-Pashtun government of President B. Rabbani would lead Afghanistans Pashtuns to revive the demand for Pashtunistan. Eventually, the remarkable success of the Taleban, and economic considerations, led to Pakistans policy change in 1994-95 towards its support for the Taleban. As Iran started signing joint ventures with Central Asian countries, Pakistan hoped that the Taleban would restore order and reopen roads, and provide it with the opportunity to expand markets to Central Asia. Even before the Taleban's victorious drive on Kabul, the ousted Afghan government had long insisted that the Taleban were actively backed by Pakistan's ISI and by some members of the Pakistan's powerful military. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has denied any involvement, but in late September 1996, Naseerullah Babar, Pakistan's Interior Minister, flew to Afghanistan to work out a settlement between the Taleban and the most powerful of the Afghan warlords. The ISI, for years the agent of Pakistan's Afghan policy, also is believed to have helped the Taleban logistically and advised them on strategy. ISI has links with Pakistani religious parties that provide volunteers for jihad in both Kashmir and Afghanistan.
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