History 420 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and U.S. Foreign Policy - A Historical Perspective
Methods Discussion: Read the Map.
Carefully examine the above map showing Afghanistan at the center. What did you learn about Afghanistan from reading the map?
Goals for today's discussion:
- To understand the geopolitical realities of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Central Asian Republics (CARs).
- To learn the history of Afghanistan through five stages, with special emphasis on U.S. foreign policy and involvement in the region through the late-20th through the early 21st Centuries.
Goal #1: To understand the geopolitical realities of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Central Asian Republics (power point)
Goal #2: To learn the history of Afghanistan through five stages, with special emphasis on U.S. foreign policy and involvement in the region through the late-20th through the early 21st Centuries.
In order to understand Afghanistan today, we have to take a detailed historical tour of Afghanistan's history over the past 5000 years. We will do that through a chronology of at least five distinct stages:
- 3000 BC - 1747 AD: Afghanistan's multi-ethnic tribal society was shaped by its geographical location at the crossroads of many great civilizations.
- 1747-1919: Afghanistan became a nation under control of a single ruler from the Durrani Tribe as well as a cornerstone in the imperialistic designs of Russia and Britain.
- 1919-1973: Afghanistan's rulers tried to turn a multi-ethnic tribal society into a modern state that, in turn, lead to periodic tribal revolts and internal turmoil.
- 1773-1789: The Republic of Afghanistan began with a power shift from the Durrani monarchy to Communist-backed rule which stimulates first, an internal war between the Soviet-backed Communists and the growing power of Islamic fundamentalist tribal leaders and second, 10 years of war that began with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
- 1989-to the present: Afghanistan was torn apart by internal struggles for control and by the two responses to 9/11: the U.S. response, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the U.N. International Response.
Selected Chronology of Afghanistan's History
First Stage Afghanistan History, 3000 BC - 1747 AD: Afghanistan's multi-ethnic tribal society was shaped by its geographical location at the crossroads of many great civilizations.
3000 BC-2000 BC. The Indus Valley civilization ruled over most of ancient Afghanistan - which was the economic, social, and political crossroad between Mesopotamia and eastern civilizations.
600 BC. The Median/Persian Empire conquered ancient Afghanistan.
- The Kingdom of Ghandara was established in eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. It lasted until the 11th Century under the rulership of various Buddhist Kings.
522 BC--486 BC. The Achaemenid/Persian Empire overthrew the Median Empire. The Persian Empire was plagued by constant bitter and bloody tribal revolts from Afghans living in Arachosia (Kandahar, and Quetta)
329-326 BC. Alexander the Great conquered Persia, including Northern Afghanistan. Greek rule began but was plagued by constant revolts among the Afghan people.
- Alexander expanded the East/West portion of the Silk Road. By the 1st Century, the Silk Road extended across Asia and into the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
170 BC-160 BC. The Greco-Bactrian Empire conqueredand ruled most of Afghanistan.
50 AD. The Kushan Empire conquered the Greco-Bactrian Empire. Within 200 years, the empire fragmented into
400 AD. The Central Asian, nomadic White Huns or Huna conquered present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving most the area in ruins. The Huna made their capital in Bamyan where they began to destroy the Buddhist culture.
550 AD. The Persians in the Sassanian Empire reasserted control over all of what is now Afghanistan.
642 AD. The Arabs conquered Persia and invaded Afghanistan from the west, thereby introducing Islam into the region. At the time, Afghanistan had many different independent rulers and the Muslims were not welcomed. Mountain tribes attacked the Arab conquerers, making exploration of the area almost impossible.
963 AD. The Ghaznavian Empire, a Persian/Muslim dynasty of Turk orgin, conquered Persia, Afghanistan, and most of present day India. It's capital was Ghazni which is currently located in Central Afghanistan.
1219-1221. The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan invaded Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
The irrigation systems in Afghanistan were destroyed, turning fertile soil into permanent deserts. Intermarriage between the Mongols and local tribes led to the origins of the modern-day Hazara ethnic group.
1500-1700s. Afghanistan was divided among several foreign entities: the Uzbek Kingdom of Balk in the north, the Safavid Persians to the west, and the Moghul Empire, a Persian/Islamic dynasty, in the east ruling from its capital in Kabul.
1700 Due to thousands of years of invasions, Afghanistan had become ethnically diverse. Western Afghanistan was home to Persian speakers (Dari, as the Afghan Persian dialect is known); central Afghanistan was dominated by the Hazaras who also spoke Dari but were converted to the Shiite branch of Islam under the Persians; western Afghanistan was inhabited by Tajiks, who also spoke Dari; northern Afghanistanwas home to Uzbeks, Turkmans, Kyrgyz, and others who spoke the Turkic languages of Central Asia; and in the south and east, the Pastuns spoke Pashto, a mixture of Indo-Persian languages.
1736. The Persian leader, Nadir Shah, occupied southwest Afghanistan and in 1739, he occupied Kandahar.
Throughout his rule, he faced widespread Afghan resistance.
Second Stage Afghanistan History, 1747-1919: Afghanistan became a nation under control of a single ruler from thePashtun, Durrani Tribe as well as a cornerstone in the imperialistic designs of Russia and Britain.
1747. Ahmad Shah Abdali, of Abdali Pashtuns (later known as the Durrani Pashtuns), founded the modern state of Afghanistan and made its capital at Kandahar. By 1772, Ahmad Shah Durrani's empire extended from Central Asia to Delhi, from Kashmir to the Arabian sea - thus giving it free access to ocean trade. After centuries of fragmentation, Afghanistan was under the domination of a single local ruler who, for the first time, had support from most of the tribal leaders. The already existent divisions between the Durrani and Ghilzai tribescontinued until the Durrani lost power over the centralized state of Afghanistan in 1973.
- Ahmad Shah, a Pashtun, was elected King in a loya jirga - the first grand council which consisted only of Pashtuns who made laws for the new nation. Until 1978, all of Afghanistan's rulers - with one 9-month exception in 1929 - were Durrani Pashtun.
1773. Ahmad Shah died, plunging Afghanistan into civil war over disputes about his heir. The capital of Afghanistan transferred from Kandahar to Kabul.
- Britain assumed a monopoly on the opium market export business to China and thereafter began to extend its influence into West India's opium-growing region - Afghanistan included.
1809 The British and Afghans signed a treaty of mutual defense against Russia that set the Great Game into motion - a confrontation between the British and Russian empires. Both powers viewed the presence of the other power as a threat to their imperialist interests and viewed Afghanistan as a buffer state between their empires.
- Shuja Shah who signed the treaty with the British, was driven from the throne and spent 20 years in exile in India.
1834 Shuja Shah tried to regain the throne by marching a Sikh army through Punjab, (now Pakistan), the northern region in India closest to Afghanistan.
1836. The Afghan prince, Dost Mohammad Khan, defeated the Shuja Shah west of Peshawar, but lost the city. Dost Muhammad contacted the British governor general of India asking for help to regain Peshawar, thereby formally setting the stage for British intervention.
1837. With backing from Russia, a Persian army besieged the city of Herat. The British saw this as a threat to their interests in India, and began to fear a Russian invasion of the North-Western frontier of Afghanistan.
1839-1843. The First Anglo-Afghan War erupted.
- In April 1839, the combined British and Indian army reached Kandahar whereby the leaders of Western Afghanistan fled or surrendered. That August, the army reached Kabul and Shuja Shah took over the throne, thus making Afghanistan pro-British.
- In October 1841, the Afghani forces under the leadership of Akbar Khan, the favourite son of Dost Mahomed Khan, overthrew Shuja Shah and killed the British envoy to Afghanistan. The British forces in Kabul collapsed, and while 17,000 Europeans were assured safe passage, only 100 survived and were taken prisoner.
- In September 1842, the combined British forces took Kabul. In October, after rescuing the remaining prisoners and demolishing the city's main bazaar, the British Army withdrew from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. The war was over and the Afghanis had won.
- Dost Mohammad Khan returned and occupied the royal throne.
- The war resulted in the greatest slaughter of a British army in British imperial history.
1843-1895. The British greatly expanded their empire at the expense of the Afghan nation once ruled by Ahmed Shah Durrani.
1878- 1880. The Second Anglo-Afghan War was the second time the British invaded Afghanistan. The war ended after the British emerged victorious against the Afghan rebels and the Afghans agreed to let the British obtain their geopolitical objectives. Most of the British and Indian soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan. The Afghan tribes were permitted to maintain internal rule and local customs but they had to cede foreign control to the British who were trying to stop the expansion of the Russian Empire into Indian. The British then installed Abdur Rahman Khan on the throne.
- In July 1880, Ayub Khan, Abdur Rahman's cousin, rose in revolt, defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Maiwandy, and besieged Kandahar.
- In September at the Battle of Kandahar, the British defeated Ayub Khan's forces and ended the rebellion. Abdur Rahman's rule was restored and he immediately confirmed British control of Afghanistan's foreign policy in exchange for protection.
- The British policy thereafter was that Afghanistan would exist as a buffer state between the English and Russian empires. As a buffer state and British protectorate, it was in Britain's self interest to keep Afghanistan economically weak and politically isolated.
1880. The reign of Abdur Rehman began and continued through 1901. His reign was characterized by modernization and efforts to unite the diverse tribes of Afghanistan under his control and under the banner of Sunni Islam. He achieved such consolidation in three ways: suppressing various rebellions by following up his victories with harsh punishment, execution, and deportation; decreasing the power of his most powerful Pashtun enemies, the Ghilzai, and other tribes by moving them from southern and south-central Afghanistan to areas north of the Hindu Kush with predominantly non-Pashtun populations; and creating provincial governments different from old tribal boundaries, giving provincial governors a great deal of power in local matters and placing an army at their disposal to enforce tax collection and suppress dissent. During his reign, Abdur Rahman eroded the power of tribal organization as provincial government officials allowed land to change hands outside the traditional clan and tribal limits.
1893. The British foreign secretary of India, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, signed an agreement with Afghan ruler, Amir Abdur Rehman Khan separating Afghanistan from what was then British India. The Durand Line established a 1,600 mile border between Afghanistan and British India, splitting Afghan tribal areas and leaving at least half of Pashtun Afghans in what is now Pakistan. The most contested Afghan loss was the North-West Frontier Provinces - an area that is currently part of Pakistan and whose national control has been contested since the Durand Line was established.
1907. Russia and Great Britain signed the Convention of St. Petersburg, which brought about the end of the Great Game when Russia recognized Afghanistan as a semi-protectorate of Great Britain.
1919. The Third Anglo-Afghan War occurred.
- At the end of World War I, Abdur Rahman's successor, Habibullah Khan, demanded a seat at the Versailles negotiating table so he could request independence from the British in regard to foreign affairs. His request was denied and shortly thereafter, Habibullah was assassinated. His son and successor, Amanullah, came to power stating that Afghanistan should no longer be bound to the British..
- In April 1919, Amanullah decided to invade British India. While the Afghan Army was not particularly strong, neither the British Army, which had suffered greatly during WWI, nor the British Indian Army were in a strong position to withstand an invasion on the Indian frontier. Nonetheless, by June the British defeated the Afghans and Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed in August.
- The British, however, achieved only a minor tactical victory; the British and Indian troops suffered almost double the amount of casualties that the Afghans suffered. Further, both sides achieved something from the war: for the British, the Durand Line was reaffirmed as the political boundary separating Afghanistan from Pakistan, and for the Afghanis, their right to conduct their own foreign affairs as a fully independent state was affirmed.
Third Stage Afghanistan History, 1919-1973: Afghanistan's rulers try to turn a multi-ethnic tribal society into a modern state which, in turn, leads to periodic tribal revolts and internal turmoil.
(Note: All print in green below involves a relationship between Afghanistan and the United States)
1919-1929. Amanullah Khan (photograph below) created new cosmopolitan schools for both boys and girls, overturned centuries-old traditions such a strict dress codes for women, increased trade with Europe and Asia, and advanced a modernist constitution that allowed for equal rights and individual freedoms.
1921. Afghan leaders reached out to the United States asking for assistance in developing its natural resources. Over the decade, several Americans recommended to the U.S. State Department that the United States pay greater attention to Afghanistan. No governmental response ensued.
1924. The Khost rebellion was a response to Amanullah Khan's modernizing achievements. Occuring in the southern tribal provinces, the year-long war found Islamic tribes rising up against the government. The rebellion was brutally put down, with 14,000 people perishing.
1929. Amanullah Khan abdicated and Habibullah Kalakani took control of Afghanistan. Several months later, he was overthrown and killed by his rival, Nadir Khan. Within two years, Nadir Khan established full control of Afghanistan, abolished the modernization reforms of Amanullah Khan, and backed a new constitution giving he and his family broad powers. Much of his support came from rural, conservative mullahs.
1933. Nadir Khan was assassinated by a college student, and his son, Zahir, inherited the throne which he ruled until 1973. Mohammed Zahir Shah (photograph to the right) was the last king of Afghanistan.
1934. The United States formally recognized Afghanistan.
1937. The U.S. Inland Exploration Company received a 75-year lease for oil exploration in Afghanistan. Within a short period, Inland paid a penalty and withdrew from the lease.
1942. The U.S. established its first American legation in Kabul.
1947. Britain withdrew from India. British India was divided into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan - without an Afghan presence in the official partition agreement.
- The British government offered the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province the option of joining with either Pakistan or India.
- The partitioning permanently denied Afghanistan its former territory that allowed it access to the ocean - thus maintaining its landlocked status. Partition also guaranteed that the new nation of Pakistan would be placed between two hostile neighbors - Afghanistan and India - which also guaranteed chronic instability and conflict.
1948-1955. Afghanistan repeatedly approached the United States for
assistance to modernize their army. The U.S. rejected such requests, largely because it was reluctant to incur any obligation to Afghanistan should it be threatened by the USSR.
1948. The U.S. aligned itself with Pakistan, while Pakistan made it clear that it was determined to block Afghanistan's territorial claims to the North-West Frontier Province.
1949. Afghanistan's Parliament - the Loya Jirga - denounced the Durand Treaty and refused to recognize the Durand line as a legal boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan sought closer ties with the United States to protect it against Afghanistan.
- U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall recommended to President Truman that we raise the level of the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan from a legation to a full ambassadorial status.
1950s. King Zahir Shah continued to rule over the Afghan monarchy, providing a weak central government. Most Afghans had no nationalistic ties and instead, were led by local tribal leaders (khans) and teachers of Islam (mullahs). Beginning in 1973, the real ruler was the Afghan prime minister, the King's cousin and brother-in-law, Mohammad Daoud.
- Throughout the decade, the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIA) began to provide aid to religious Muslim extremists whose goal it was to undermine Soviet and secular influences in Afghanistan.
1955. In March, Pakistan closed the border between the two nations for five months during which it refused transshipments of goods to or from Afghanistan. Afghanistan appealed to both Iran and the U.S. for alternative routes to the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea, but both nations denied assistance. Consequently, Daoud turned to the USSR for assistance in guaranteeing an exchange of Soviet petroleum and building materials for Afghan goods.
- For two decades, the Soviets provided economic ($1.26 billion) and military ($1.25 billion) assistance in return for exploring the oil and natural gas reserves in the northern part of Afghanistan and for building military installations and airfields.
1956. The U.S. issued the Baghdad Pact Planning Study on Community Inspired Threat to West Pakistan which warned of a clear opportunity for the USSR to align with Afghanistan in its pursuit of a Pashtunistan ally "that borders on the Arabian Sea, [and] places the Soviets in the position ... of posing a threat to sea lines of communication in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean." But it was too late; Afghanistan had already aligned itself with the Soviets.
1960s. Two large modern universities arose - Kabul Polytechnic and Kabul University - and fostered a new Afghan intellectualism. As the decade progressed, tensions within Afghanistan grew out of class, ethnic, and religious differences between four groups: the urban-centered, foreign-educated elite who ran the nation's bureaucracy; the officer corps from the wealthier Afghan families who were increasingly radicalized by Soviet influence; the ethnic minorities - Hazara, Tajik, Turkmen, and Uzbek - whoe each had their own culture and history; and the radical Islamists mostly from the rural areas who opposed attempts to modernize Afghan life.
- The nature of this last group - the radical Islamists - was different from past fundamentalist groups. Political Islam took the place of pious Islam, ending centuries of religious tolerance. The goal of the political Islamists was a reorganization of Afghan society under the laws of Sharia.
- Polticial Islam was the goal of both rural and urban radical Islamists. The urban radical opposition to the King's reforms was centered around a few professors at Kabul University - the most famous of whom was Burhanuddin Rabbani and his two followers Panjshiri Ahmed Shah Massoud and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - all of whom were secretly supported by the U.S.
1961. Pakistan and Afghanistan severed diplomatic relations and ended all border traffic between the two nations. Pakistan closed its borders to the Pashtuns on the Afghan side of the border. Afghanistan became almost entirely dependent on trade with the Soviets.
1964. The King ordered the convening of a Loya Jirga to draft and approve a new Afghan constitution. Although most of the 452 people (including six women) assembled could be expected to support the King, members elected from the entire nation also participated. After 10 days of meetings, on September 20, all the members of the Loya Jirga signed the new constitution. On October 1, the King signed the constitution and it became law of the land.
- Zahir Shah's new constitution rested on a power sharing agreement - while he had control over a weak central goverment centered in Kabul, he was able to maintain law and order throughout much of the nation beause he divided governmental responsibilities. The urban government in Kabul provided security and services to Afghanis, while in the rural areas, the tribes and mullahs ensured local order.
1965. On January 1, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was founded byAfghans from diverse leftist Communist groups who united for the principal purpose of gaining parliamentary seats in the elections. Four PDPA members won parliamentary seats. In September, Afghanistan held its first nationwide elections under the new constitution.
1970s. Fundamentalist, radical Islamist parties arose throughout the Middle East in reaction to failed secular Arab nationalist movements. By the end of the decade, such fundamentalist groups had gained strength at universities, especially in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan.
Fourth Stage Afghanistan History, 1973-1989: The Republic of Afghanistan began with a power shift from the Durrani monarchy to Communist-backed rule which stimulated an internal war between the Soviet-backed Communists and the growing power of Islamic fundamentalist tribal leaders as well as a ten-year-war that began with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan which, in turn, launched the Afghan resistance movement.
1973. On July 17th while Zahir Shah was on vacation in Europe, Mohammad Daoud Khan (photograph to the right) and the PDPA led a military coup. Daoud Khan abolished the monarchy, declared himself the first President of Afghanistan, and established the Republic of Afghanistan. Daoud turned to the Soviet Union for aid to try to crush a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement and to try to modernize the state structure.
- With Daoud backing the USSR, the CIA aligned with Pakistani Prime Minister Sulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto, in turn, transpired with the Pakistani military to bring Massoud and Hekmatyar and several of their radical Islamic followers to Peshawar to train as guerrilla fighters. Massaud and Hekmatyar met with the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad - thus creating a formal alliance.
1978. The Communist coup, called the April Rebellion, occurred during which President Daoud and his family were killed and Nur Mohammad Taraki took power as head of the country's first Marxist government. This coup brought an end to more than 200 years of almost uninterrupted rule by the family of Zahir Shah and Mohammad Daoud.
- The successful communists - the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) - pledged to become the first Afghan government to rule over both urban and rural Afghanistan. Afghan Soviet-backed leaders then launched a terror campaign against religious leaders who challenged their rule. During the PDPA's first 20 months in office, 27,000 political dissidents were executed.
- Pakistan's dictator, Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, financed hundreds of madrassas, religious schools along the Afghani/Pakistani border. The goal was to educate young Afghan and Pakistani men about Islam and prepare them for an anti-communist jihad.
- In July, the CIA began buying weapons for the mobilizing mujahadeen in the hope that by arming the Afghan resistance to the PDPA, the Soviets would intervene and be defeated by the Afghans.
- Prominent mullahs and members of Afghan intellectual and professional classes began to leave the country as they were targets of the PDPA.
- In December, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
1979-1989. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan tore the nation asunder.
1979. Hafizullah Amin, who had become prime minister, was opposed to Taraki, and in October, Taraki was secretly executed, with Amin becoming the new president.
Widespread resistance to the new government spread to about two-thirds of the nation.
- The CIA explored further covert options for helping Afghanistan fight the Afghani Soviet rulers. Pakistan responded by telling the U.S. it would increase support for the Afghan insurgents if theU.S. protected Pakistan from Soviet retaliation.
- In July, President Jimmy Carter signed a presidential “finding” requiring the president to formally “find” or declare in writing that any covert CIA action must promote American national security. This allowed the CIA to provide the Afghan rebels with $500,000 worth of propaganda, psychological operations, medical supplies, and radio equipment.
- In December, Amin was assassinated by the Soviets who believed Amin was a threat to the prospect of an amenable communist government bordering Soviet Central Asia.
- President Carter responded to the Soviet Afghan War with
another "finding" that approved a covert CIA plan to back the Afghan rebels with medical, financial aid, and weapons for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The deal - known as Operation Cyclone - was brokered through Pakistan's Interservice Intelligence (ISI) and in return for Pakistan's backing of the Afghan rebels, the CIA promised deferrence to Pakistani priorities. Pakistan feared a Soviet victory that would leave them geopolitically sandwiched between two hostile nations - communist-ruled USSR and India.
1981. President Ronald Reagan promised $3.2 billion to aid Pakistan in its support of the Afghan rebels. Saudi Arabia agreed to match U.S. financial support to Pakistan's efforts against the Afghan rebels.
- Saudi Osama bin Laden began to funnel money and equipment to the fundamentalist Afghan rebels who were not receiving money from either the CIA or ISI.
1982. The ISI began to recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan rebels. Pakistan had standing instructions to all its embassies abroad to give visas, with no questions asked, to anyone wanting to come and fight in Afghanistan. Between 1982 and 1992, more than 100,000 "Arab Afghans" from 43 Islamic countries were either trained in Afghanistan or educated in Pakistani and Afghani madrassas.
1983. U.S. intelligence and other sources indicated that the USSR was willing to withdraw from Afghanistan. The U.S. Congress and President Reagan worked to continue the war in the hope that it would become the Soviet Vietnam and that an Afghan victory would totally defeat the USSR.
1985. President Reagan signed National Security Directive No. 166 ordering the US to use all available means to compel the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan. The CIA immediately began supplying and training rebel mujahideen resistance fighters in Pakistan.
1986. The CIA began providing Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahadeen which allowed them to destroy the Soviet air advantage. Eventually, the U.S. provided over 2,000 anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahadeen.
- With Soviet backing, Najibullah (photograph to the left) was elected the fourth and last president of Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and a new constitution was adopted
1987. The $30 million requested by the CIA in 1984 for the Afghan resistance had grown to $630 million in 1987; each increment was matched by the Saudis.
1988. Osama bin Laden created al Qaeda (the base) as a service center for Arab Afghans and their families to forge a broad-based alliance.
1989. The USSR was defeated and withdrew from Afghanistan, ending the war that lasted 10 years, claimed 1.5 million Afghan and between 40-50,000 Soviet lives, and forced somewhere between 3-5 million Afghanis to leave the country.
- President Najibulah immediately declared he would seek the national reconciliation of all factions. The Afghan Islamic rebels - the mujahadeen - rejected the offer.
- U.S. interest in Afghanistan diminishes, although the nation's agriculture and industry had been destroyed and the countryside was booby-trapped with millions of land mines. Some support is still provided, but only in terms of several million dollars given to the mujahadeen as a disincentive for further Soviet interference in Afghanistan.
Fifth Stage Afghanistan History, 1990-to the present : Afghanistan was torn apart by internal struggles for control and by the two responses to 9/11: the U.S. response, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the U.N. International Response.
1990. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed that President Najibullah would remain in power until internationally regulated elections could be held. Najibullah introduced a multi-party system and refugees began to return home.
1991. The USSR fell and its dissolution began as shown in the map below. ( Post-Soviet states in alphabetical order:
1. Armenia, 2. Azerbaijan, 3. Belarus, 4. Estonia,
5. Georgia, 6. Kazakhstan, 7. Kyrgyzstan, 8. Latvia,
9. Lithuania, 10. Moldova, 11. Russia, 12. Tajikistan,
13. Turkmenistan, 14. Ukraine, 15. Uzbekistan.) The mujahadeen began fighting each other for control over the drug trade, for liberation of their country from Najibullah's rule, and for control over CIA, Pakistani, and Saudi weapons.
The CIA concluded that the mujahadeen were of no further use to the U.S. and cut off all support. President Najibullah held a press conference and desperately appealed to the U.S. for help - warning that without its assistance in rebuilding the nation, the mujahadeen would tear the nation asunder. The U.S. declined his appeal.
1992. The Afghan Civil War formally began after rebel troops ousted President Najibullah on April 25th. The newly formed Islamic State of Afghanistan came into existance as the mujahadeen fought to control Kabul
- Rival militia factions, led by former "mujahadeen freedom fighters," fought one another and sought to control Kabul. Factions included:
- Abdul Rasul Sayyaf - Pashtun with ties to Osama bin Laden.
- Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - Pashtun based along the Pakistani border with close ties to both the CIA and the Pakistan ISI.
- Ahmad Shah Massoud - Tajik in control of Panjshir Valley
- Abdul Rashid Dostum - Uzbek from Northern Afghanistan who previously fought the mujahadeen and supported the Soviets - joined with Massoud.
- Egyptian and Algerian leaders advised the Clinton Administration
to re-engage diplomatically in Afghanistan, warning that with CIA money from the previous decade, dozens of fundamentalist movements now existed across the Muslim world which were led by militants who had grievances not only against the US, but against their own governments. Washington ignored the warnings and ignored Afghanistan as the civil war intensified.
1993. California based oil giant Unocal began to research a plan to construct a pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan through Afghanistan.
1994. Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden of his citizenship for his anti-monarchical activities.
- A new breed of Afghan mullahs arose comprised of men who grew up in Pakistan’s refugee camps, cut off from Afghan culture and history and steeped in dogmatic political Islam. These talibs (students) formed the Taliban (many students).
- By the end of the year, the Taliban had captured 12 of Afghanistan's 31 provinces.
1996. Sudan expelled bin Laden who then moved to Afghanistan where he lived under the protection of the Taliban. Bin Laden issued his first declaration of jihad against the US which he declared occupied Saudi Arabia. "The walls of oppression and humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets."
- The Taliban took over Kabul and within a year, it controlled over two-thirds of Afghanistan.
1998. In July, the Taliban successfully took over Mazar - thus controlling over 90% of the nation. Shortly thereafter, the Taliban killed between 6,000-8,000 Hazara, Uzbek, and Tajik.
- On August 20, the US launched missile strikes on bin Laden's training camps in northeastern Afghanistan in retaliation for the bombings of the US embassies in Africa. Over 20 people died and another 30 were injured.
- In response to President Clinton's insistence that the Taliban turn over bin Laden, Mullah Omar responded that the Taliban would never hand him over and that "America itself is the biggest terrorist in the world."
- Al Qaeda issued a manifesto stating that "for more than seven years the US has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples."
- They then issued a fatwa, "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to." Later that year, bin Laden declared, "Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded for it by God."
1999. The ex-king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, called for a Loya Jirga to discuss ways of bringing peace to the country and dealing with the competing powers of warlords, but the Taliban ridicule his attempts at establishing peace.
- In October, UN Security Council Resolution 1267 was adopted providing for sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama bin Ladin, banning commercial aircraft flights to and from Afghanistan, and freezing Taliban bank accounts world wide.
2001. In March, despite pleas and requests from various international diplomats and Islamic scholars, the Taliban destroyed ancient historical statues in the Kabul Museum, historical sites in Ghazni, and blew up the giant Bamiyan Buddhas from the 5th century.
- May 2001, the Taliban ordered religious minorities to wear tags identifying themselves as non-Muslims.
- On September 11th, members of al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field.
- On September 13th, Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that Osama bin Laden was a suspect in the 9/11 attacks and Congress authorized President Bush to use military force against those responsible for the terrorist attacks.
- On September 30, the Taliban issued a statement that bin Laden was currently in Afghanistan and under their control.
- On October 7 - the US launched a "War on Terrorism" - later known as Operation Enduring Freedom - with air strikes over Afghanistan designed to root out bin Laden, al Qaeda members, and their Taliban supporters. In less than three months, U.S. Special Operations, CIA forces, and Afghan troops backed by U.S. airpower overthrew the Taliban.
- In late October, some western and Arab leaders contacted exiled King Muhammad Zahir Shah to determine if he would be willing to form a new Loya Jirga consisting of representatives from every tribal, ethnic and political group, including some elements of the Taliban.
- On December 14, at a summit in Belgium, all 15 member countries of the European Union agreed to commit troops or take other roles in a future UN peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
- On December 20, the new Afghan government backed by the U.S. was sworn in under interim leader, Hamid Karzai(photograph below).
- After the American attack on Afghanistan, al Qaeda's leadership escaped across the border into Pakistan where it still resides.
2002. In March, US-led forces launched Operation Anaconda in an attempt to destroy al Qaeda and Taliban forces fortified in mountainous positions in eastern Afghanistan. The 16-day operation ended with several results: the US and Afghan forces removed the majority of the Al-Qaida and Taliban presence from the Shahi-Kot Valley; US forces suffered 80 casualties in the operation, with 8 killed and 72 wounded, whhile al Qaeda and Taliban estimates ranged from 100 to 1,000 casualties; and an unknown number of al Qaeda fighters were able to escape the Shahi-Kot Valley into Pakistan.
- In June 2002, the Loya Jirga met and elected Hamid Karzi as interim head of state. Karzi picked members of his administration which would serve until the 2004 national elections.
- In July, gunmen in Kabul assassinated Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir .
- In September, Karzai narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Kandahar. As a result, he replaced his Afghan bodyguards with U.S. special forces.
- In November, former King Zahir Shah inaugurated a special committee to draft a new constitution for Afghanistan.
2003. The U.N. advised Afghan refugees not to return and NATO took control of security in Kabul, marking the organization's first operation outside of Europe in its history. (The photograph to the right is of US/NATO troops patrolling poppy fields in the Kandahar region.)
- Afghanistan re-emerged as the world's leading source for opium and heroin with an estimated annual income of $25 billion.
- A Loya Jirga convened in Kabul.
- The U.S. initiated war with Iraq leading to the closure of U.N. offices and embassies in Afghanistan.
2004. In January, Afghanistan adopted a new constitution making the nation a republic with three branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary)
- In November, Presidential elections were held after being delayed twice. Hamid Karzai was declared the winner. The elections were not without controversy; allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing were brought up by many of the presidential candidates.
2005. Afghanistan held the first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years.
- In February, U.S. Senator John McCain called for the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, saying such bases would be "for the good of the American people, because of the long-term security interests we have in the region"
2006. A robust insurgency began against the U.S.-backed Afghan government by a coalition of Taliban, warlords, and Afghan and Pakistan tribal militias. Between 2002 - 2006, the overall number of insurgent attacks increased 400 percent while the number of deaths from such attacks increased 800 percent. The number of suicide attacks quadupled. In 2007, the number of insurgent-initiated attacks increased 27 percent.
2008. As of July , hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars had been spent on permanent infrastructure for foreign military bases in Afghanistan, including a budget of $780-million to further develop the infrastructure at just the Kandahar Air Field base.
- The war in Afghanistan dramatically escalated. In February, it was reported that the Afghani government controlled only about 30 percent of the country; most was still under rural control.
2009. In January, the U.S. began work on $1.6 billion of new, permanent military installations at Kandahar. In February, the New York Times reported that the U.S. would build two large new military bases in southern Afghanistan: one in Kandahar province near the Helmand border, and the ther in Zabul, a province largely controlled by the Taliban
- In March 2009, President Obama defined the U.S. mission in Afghanistan “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan.” His policy explicitly committed the United States to “promoting a more capable, accountable, and effective government in Afghanistan,” which required “executing and resourcing an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.”
- With the support of both parties, two presidential strategy reviews, and a strong majority of the American people, President Obama ordered 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, quadrupled the number of U.S. diplomats and aid workers, and increased civilian assistance by an impressive $2 billion from 2009 to 2010.
- On August 10, Stanley McChrystal, the newly appointed U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said that the Taliban had gained the upper hand and that we were not winning in the 8 year-old war. McChrystal called for 80,000 more troops to maximize chances of success; or 40,000, with medium risk. He also proposed a third option - deploying just 20,000 more troops and abandoning counterinsurgency in favor of a leaner counterterrorism mission with high risk.
- As of November 23, the following were statistical casualties for the Afghanistan war: 1,518 coalition deaths -- 922 Americans, 11 Australians, one Belgian, 235 Britons, 133 Canadians, three Czech, 27 Danes, 21 Dutch, six Estonians, one Finn, 36 French, 31 Germans, two Hungarians, 22 Italians, three Latvian, one Lithuanian, four Norwegians, 15 Poles, two Portuguese, 11 Romanians, one South Korean, 26 Spaniards, two Swedes and two Turks
- On August 20, Afghans went to the polls to vote in the second set of democratic elections since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2002. After a contentious investigation and vote recount, it became clear that voting fraud on behalf of President Karzai had occurred. A run-off vote was planned, with the Taliban declaring it would do everything possible to disrupt the process.. The run-off vote was cancelled on November 2, with Karzai being proclaimed the winner.
- On December 1, President Barack Obama committed 30,000 more American troops, with a hopeful backing of 4,000 more NATO troops from 43 nations, to destroying the Taliban insurgency and the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan.
2010. In January, Taliban commanders held secret exploratory talks with a United Nations special envoy to discuss peace terms. Regional commanders on the Taliban's leadership council sought a meeting with the UN special representative in Afghanistan and it took place in Dubai on January 8. It was the first such meeting between the UN and senior members of the Taliban. On January 26, at a major conference in London bringing together some 70 countries and organizations, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told world leaders that he intended to reach out to the top echelons of the Taliban within a few weeks with a peace initiative.
- In March, the Karzai government held preliminary talks with Hezb-i-Islami, who presented a plan which included the withdrawal of all foreign troops by the end of 2010. The Taliban declined to participate, saying "The Islamic Emirate has a clear position. We have said this many, many times. There will be no talks when there are foreign troops on Afghanistan's soil killing innocent Afghans on daily basis.
- Obama ordered another surge, this time of 30,000 troops, which by late 2010, brought the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 140,000.This map shows U.S. and international troop levels in late 2010. The 2010 surge in troops also meant a sixfold increase in Special Forces operations. There were 700 air strikes in September 2010, alone versus 257 in all of 2009.
- In September, a U.S. and Afghan military offensive, called Operation Hamkari was launched in the Afghan province of Kandahar and continued throughout the late summer and fall. This operation placed severe pressure on insurgent operations and increased security in some key areas such as in Panjwayi.
- In November, NATO-agreed to hand control of security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
2011. In January, President Karzai made his first official state visit to Russia by an Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989.
- On May 1, 2011, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was assassinated in Pakistan as a result of a Special Operation conducted by the CIA and United States Navy SEALs (under the direction of President Obama).
- On June 22, President Obama announced that 10,000 troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2011 and an additional 23,000 troops would leave by the summer of 2012. The President made it clear that the U.S. planned to transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces prior to total troop departure.
- In July, Canada withdrew all of its combat troops and transitioned to a training role. Other NATO countries announced reduction in their troop numbers.
- In September, ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani who was serving as a go-between in talks with the Taliban, was assassinated.
- In November, Karzai won the endorsement of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military partnership with the US at a loya jirga traditional assembly. The proposed pact allowed US troops to remain after 2014, when foreign troops were due to leave the country.
2012. In May, NATO endorsed the plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by the end of 2014, giving security responsibilities to Afghan forces. The new French President Francois Hollande said France would withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012 - a year earlier than planned.
2014. Over 450 U.S. military bases had been built in Afghanistan.
- In April, Presidential elections were held in Afghanistan,, with a second round held in June. Incumbent Karzai was not eligible to run due to term limits. After a series of issues, an independent election commission named Ashraf Ghani the winner. Ghani, a Ghilzai Pashtun, soon became well known for alienating powerful Durrani Pashtuns, thus accelerating long-term ethnic and tribal divisions. This election was the first time in Afghanistan's history that power was democratically transferred.
- In May, President Obama set a deadline - by the end of 2016 - to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
- A U.S. report found opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached an all-time high.
- In December, NATO formally ended its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan. It left behind 13,000 soldiers to “train, advise and assist” Afghan security forces taking the lead in the fight against the Taliban. Of the foreign troops, America provided about half (with a further 3,000 deployed on counter-terrorism operations against what remained of al-Qaeda).
- 2014 said to be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001.
2015. In January, a NATO-led follow-on mission "Resolute Support" got underway, with some 12,000 personnel to provide further training and support for Afghan security forces.
- In March, dozens of former U.S. officials, signed an open letter to the President calling on him to repudiate his Afghanistan withdrawal policy and keep U.S. troops there past 2016.
- Later in March, President Obama announced that the U.S. would delay its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, following a request from President Ashraf Ghani.
- In September, the Taliban briefly captured the major northern city of Kunduz in their most significant advance since being forced from power in 2001.
- In October, President Obama announced that 9,800 US troops would remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, backtracking on an earlier pledge to pull all but 1,000 troops from the country.
- In December, the Taliban tried to capture Sangin, a town and district in Helmand Province. US warplanes were deployed in support of Afghan security forces' attempt to repel insurgents.
- In December, NATO extended its "Resolute Support" follow-on mission by 12 months to the end of 2016.
2016. In January, the Taliban controlled more territory than at any time since American forces kicked them out of power in 2001. The government in Kabul was largely dysfunctional, a new peace process was not in the works, and the U.S. no longer had a long-term strategy for Afghanistan.
- In July, President Obama announced that 8,400 US troops would remain in Afghanistan into 2017 in light of the "precarious security situation". NATO also agreed to maintain troop numbers and reiteraetd a funding pledge for local security forces until 2020.
To summarize :
- Throughout the first phase of Afghanistan's history, 3000 BC to 1747AD, Afghanistan's multi-ethnic tribal society was shaped by its geographical location at the crossroads of many great civilizations.
- During the second phase of Afghanistan's history, 1747 to 1913, the Pashtun Durranis came to power and tried to unite its multi-ethnic tribal society into a single modern nation.
This period witnesses two major problems:
internal civil wars about tribal control over Afghanistan; and
external interference from two of the world's greatest imperial powers - England and Russia - who became embroiled in what became known as the Great Game.
- During the third phase, 1919 to 1973, which began after the end of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Afghan rulers tried to turn their multi-ethnic tribal society into a modern state, only to meet major resistance from Islamic tribal members in the rural parts of the nation
- As this period opened, real power in Afghanistan rested not with tribal community - the Durrani under Amanullah Khan - but with the small Islamic communities of scholars and tribal leaders - the ulama who traditionally were unconcerned with who was in charge of the state - as long as it supported the Sharia (The Path to Islam) and Islam.
- Amanullah Khan, therefore, had to fight these influences as he struggled to modernize Afghanistan at the beginning of his rule in 1919. His goal was to create a united Afghanistan - one that would bring together all the diverse peoples of Afghanistan.
- His goal was further complicated by the external battles that evolved during this period - especially with continued Russian interests in the area - interests that eventually led the U.S. into a Cold War era involvement in Afghanistan.
- This 54-year period came to an end with an abrupt power shift in 1973 - a communist-backed coup overthrew the King, ending 200 years of Durrani rule. The new regime had close ties with the USSR - especially since it needed foreign support to help crush the growing fundamentalist Islamic movement within Afghanistan.
- The fourth phase began with the Communist-backed military coup in 1973, continued with a Communist take over in 1978 and ended in 1989 with the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan after a ten-year Cold War battle that found the U.S. and Pakistan funding a covert war of fundamentalist Muslims against the USSR. The consequences of this Communist-backed era and the ten-year war
have had a long-term effect on Afghanistan:
- It was the first war of liberation won by an Islamic movement that sought to create an Islamic state - rather than a nationalist or socialist state.
- It marked the first and only time that radical Islamic fundamentalists worked together with the more urbanized, and even westernized Afghanis in a united battle against a common enemy.
However, such unity worked only to slay a common enemy - not to establish a new government based upon a common Islamic ideology.
- After the rebels toppled the Soviet-backed president, their coalition fell apart around the question of how the jihad they had fought should be interpreted.
Thus, a power vacuum arose and a long civil war began for who would take control after the disintegration of the communist power structure.
- During this era, the U.S. was not able to shake its Cold War mentality about its involvement in Afghanistan. Our involvement in the war had been driven almost exclusively by the Cold War antagonisms between the US and the USSR. Thus, Afghanistan's strategic importance to the US was not considered on its own merits, but rather how it could be best exploited as a platform to "stick it to the Soviets."
- At the same time, the U.S. refused to see that during the war, the Afghans did not see them as liberators but rather as invaders. Indeed, we had repeated the Great Game, but with different goals and with different empires - the U.S. and the USSR rather than Britain and the USSR.
- This brings us to the fifth and current stage, 1989 to the present, as we see Afghanistan again torn apart by both internal and external struggles: internal struggles about who will control the national government, and two external responses to 9/11- the U.S. response, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the U.N. International Response.
- The Afghan Civil War formally began after rebel troops ousted President Najibullah on April 25th and various warlords began to fight over control.
- Further complicating the Civil War was the rise of a new breed of Afghan mullahs comprised of men who grew up in Pakistan’s refugee camps, cut off from Afghan culture and history and steeped in dogmatic political Islam. These talibs (students) formed the Taliban (many students) and by the end of 1994, the Taliban had captured 12 of Afghanistan's 31 provinces.
- External struggles began shortly after 9/11 when on October 7th, the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom. In less than three months, U.S. Special Operations, CIA forces, and Afghan troops backed by U.S. airpower overthrew the Taliban. However, it was at this point that U.S. foreign policy took a disastrous turn.
- While the U.S. government worked to create a U.S.-backed Afghan government, it did not truly defeat either the Taliban or al Qaeda. Instead, it merely pushed the core leadership of both groups into Pakistan where both waited for an opportunity to reemerge.
- The U.S. shifted its attention and resources to Iraq which allowed the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other insurgent groups to rebuild their power and strength in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- By 2006, the Taliban, several warlords, and several Afghan andPakistan tribal militias began a serious insurgency designed to overthrow the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
- During the Obama years, 2009-2016, an inconsistent foreign policy existed toward Afghanistan. It began with a troop surge which for several years, succeeded in keeping the Taliban at bay while the Afghanis tried to put together a national government. By the end of 2011, the surge was no longer effective and the Taliban began gaining strength. Nonetheless, the U.S. announced a pullout of support, later a decrease of forces, and then a small increase in forced - policies that did not help to build a strong central government and which allowed the Taliban to regain strength.
In conclusion, we should think critically about the words of Paul D. Miller who served as director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007 through 2009.
"... the war in Afghanistan and its aftermath are likely to have far-reaching consequences for the United States and the world. Americans are likely to be far more wary about intervening in other countries or volunteering troops for peace-building missions abroad—unjustifiably, since the under-resourced and deadline-constrained American intervention in Afghanistan is hardly an ideal test case for the principle of intervention. NATO has been strained badly by the war and almost certainly will not attempt another out-of-area operation for the foreseeable future. Ongoing instability in Afghanistan risks spilling over into Pakistan, a highly dangerous scenario. The war has inflicted irreparable damage on U.S.-Pakistani relations, but without the benefit of having actually won the war and pacified Pakistan’s western border. The failure to foster effective governance in Afghanistan means that transnational drug traffickers effectively have free run of a large swath of South Asia.
The U.S. and Afghan failure to reign in corruption has tarnished democracy’s reputation both in the country and beyond it. The project of liberal order-building, which the United States has spearheaded since World War II, took an unnecessary hit because of Obama’s poor wartime leadership in Afghanistan (and Iraq).But even that is not the most damning consequence of Obama’s legacy in Afghanistan. The war was, first and foremost, the frontline global U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the transnational jihadi movement. In 2011, Leon Panetta, then serving as Secretary of Defense, claimed that al-Qaeda was near strategic defeat. The same year President Obama assured Americans that the “tide of war is receding.” Both statements were false, as critics argued at the time and as later events proved. The Administration failed to understand the essential conditions of victory in war: the creation of an alternate just political order. Without a stable and legitimate political order in Afghanistan, there will be no end to political violence there ...
Some critics, in their eagerness to highlight the flaws in President Bush’s handling of the war, argue the U.S. government had unrealistic ambitions for democracy and good government in Afghanistan. But this criticism misses the point and fails to explain what the alternative should be. Whether or not Afghanistan is ready for democratic government—and we should note that Afghanistan’s first democratic constitution was ratified in 1964—it needs an effective government. Competent, functioning institutions are the precondition for any sort of future stability in Afghanistan."
Paul D. Miller, "Obama's Failed Legacy in Afghanistan," The American Interest, February 15, 2016 at http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/02/15/obamas-failed-legacy-in-afghanistan/