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- Taliban are back – what next for Afghanistan?
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- Taliban are back – what next for Afghanistan?
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Afghanistan is called as the graveyard of emperors. It’s easy to understand why it’s called so. Kings had been ruled out here for a uncertain periods. They ruled this lands for a time being, but ultimately the rulers had to flee from here.
Very recently Taliban fighters captured this lands after American President Mr. Biden administration promised to leave this soil. Last 20 years, Afghanistan was under the control of America, though there’s a local government there headed by Ghoni. But he had to flee from the country due to invasion of militants group, Taliban.
AFGHANISTAN AND ITS SETTLEMENT
Afghanistan was settled at least 5,000 years ago. Early cities such as Mundigak and Balkh sprang up around 5,000 years ago. They likely were affiliated with the Aryan culture of India. Around 700 BCE, the Median Empire expanded its rule to Afghanistan. The Medes were an Indian people, rivals of the Persians.
In the middle ages, up to the 18th century, the region was known as Khorasan. Several important centers of Khorasan are thus located in modern Afghanistan, such as Balkh,Herat, Ghazni and Kabul.
THE POLITICAL HISTORY:
The political history of modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak dynasty, whose founder Mirwais Hotak declared Southern Afghanistan independent in 1709. In 1747, Ahmed Shah Durani established the Durrani Empire with its capital at Kandahar.
WHO FOUNDED AFGHANISTAN ?
So, the first Durrani ruler, Ahmed Shah, is obviously the founder of the Afghan nation. He united the Pushtan tribes and by 1760 built an empire extending to Delhi and the American Sea. The empire fragmented after Ahmed Shah’s death in 1772, but in 1826 Dost Mohammed, the leader of the Pashtun Muhammedzai tribe, restored order.
The Pre-Islamic Period:
Archaeological evidence indicates that urban civilization began in the region occupied by modern Afghanistan between 3000 and 2000 B.C.
The first historical documents date from the early part of the Iranian Achaemenian Dynasty, which controlled the region from 550 B.C. until 331 B.C. Between 330 and 327 B.C., Alexander the Great defeated the Achaemenian emperor Darius III and subdued local resistance in the territory that is now Afghanistan.
Alexander’s successors, the Seleucids, continued to infuse the region with Greek cultural influence. Shortly thereafter, the Mauryan Empire of India gained control of southern Afghanistan, bringing with it Buddhism.
In the mid-third century B.C., nomadic Kushans established an empire that became a cultural and commercial center. From the end of the Kushan Empire in the third century A.D. until the seventh century, the Iranian Sassanian Empire fragmented this region and was under the general protection.
The Islamic and Mongol Conquests:
After defeating the Sassanians at the Battle of Qadisiya in 637, Arab Muslims began a 100-year process of conquering the Afghan tribes and introducing Islam. By the tenth century, the rule of the Arab Abbasid Dynasty and its successor in Central Asia, the Samanid dynasty, had crumbled.
The Ghaznavid Dynasty, an offshoot of the Samanids, then became the first great Islamic dynasty to rule in Afghanistan. In 1220 all of Central Asia fell to the Mongol forces of Genghis Khan. Afghanistan remained fragmented until the 1380s, when Timur consolidated and expanded the existing Mongol Empire. Timur’s descendants ruled Afghanistan until the early sixteenth century.
Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c.1723–1773), the founder of the Durrani Empire and regarded as the founder of present-day Afghanistan.
The Pashtun Rulers:
In 1504 the region fell under a new empire, the Mughals of northern India, who for the next two centuries contested Afghan territory with the Iranian Safavi Dynasty. With the death of the great Safavi leader Nadir Shah in 1747, indigenous Pashtuns, who became known as the Durrani, began a period of at least nominal rule in Afghanistan that lasted until 1978.
The first Durrani ruler, Ahmad Shah, known as the founder of the Afghan nation, united the Pashtun tribes and by 1760 built an empire extending to Delhi and the Arabian Sea. The empire fragmented after Ahmad Shah’s death in 1772, but in 1826 Dost Mohammad, the leader of the Pashtun Muhammadzai tribe, restored order.
Dost Mohammad Khan (1793-1863) was Emir of Afghanistan from 1826–1839 and 1845–1863. He was the founder of the Barakzai dynasty, the two branches of the Barakzai dynasty Afghanistan from 1826 to 1973 when the monarchy finally ended under Mohammad Zahir Shah.
The Great Game:
Dost Mohammad ruled at the beginning of the Great Game, a century-long contest for domination of Central Asia and Afghanistan between Russia, which was expanding to the south, and Britain, which was intent on protecting India.
During this period, Afghan rulers were able to maintain virtual independence, although some compromises were necessary. In the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42), the British deposed Dost Mohammad, but they abandoned their Afghan garrisons in 1842.
In the following decades, Russian forces approached the northern border of Afghanistan. In 1878 the British invaded and held most of Afghanistan in the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
Amir Abdur Rahman was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.
In 1880 Abdur Rahman, a Durrani, began a 21-year reign that saw the balancing of British and Russian interests, the consolidation of the Afghan tribes, and the reorganization of civil administration into what is considered the modern Afghan state.
During this period, the British secured the Durand Line (1893), dividing Afghanistan from British colonial territory to the southeast and sowing the seeds of future tensions over the division of the Pashtun tribes. Abdur Rahman’s son Habibullah (ruled 1901–19) continued his father’s administrative reforms and maintained Afghanistan’s neutrality in World War I.
Full Independence and Soviet Occupation:
In 1919 Afghanistan signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi, which ended the Third Anglo- Afghan War and marks Afghanistan’s official date of independence.
In the interwar period, Afghanistan again was a balancing point between two world powers; Habibullah’s son Amanullah (ruled 1919–29) skillfully manipulated the new British-Soviet rivalry and established relations with major countries.
Amanullah introduced his country’s first constitution in 1923. However, resistance to his domestic reform program forced his abdication in 1929. In 1933 Amanullah’s nephew Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, began a 40-year reign.
After World War II, in which Afghanistan remained neutral, the long-standing division of the Pashtun tribes caused tension with the neighboring state of Pakistan, founded on the other side of the Durand Line in 1948. In response, Afghanistan shifted its foreign policy toward the Soviet Union.
The prime minister ship of the king’s cousin Mohammad Daoud (1953–63) was cautiously reformist, modernizing and centralizing the government while strengthening ties with the Soviet Union. However, in 1963 Zahir Shah dismissed Daoud because his anti-Pakistani policy had damaged Afghanistan’s economy.
Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last King (Badshah) of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973.
A new constitution, ratified in 1964, liberalized somewhat the constitutional monarchy. However, in the ensuing decade economic and political conditions worsened. In 1973 Daoud overthrew the king and established a republic.
When economic conditions did not improve and Daoud lost most of his political support, communist factions overthrew him in 1978. In 1979 the threat of tribal insurgency against the communist government triggered an invasion by 80,000 Soviet troops, who then endured a very effective decade- long guerrilla war.
Between 1979 and 1989, two Soviet-sponsored regimes failed to defeat the loose federation of mujahideen guerrillas [who were supported by the US, Pakistan , and Saudi Arabia, note from the editor] that opposed the occupation.
In 1988 the Soviet Union agreed to create a neutral Afghan state, and the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan in 1989. The agreement ended a war that killed thousands, devastated industry and agriculture, and created 5 to 6 million refugees.
Civil War and the Taliban:
The 1988 agreement did not settle differences between the government and the mujahideen, and in 1992 Afghanistan descended into a civil war that further ravaged the economy. Among the leaders of the warring factions were Ahmad Shah Massoud, an ethnic Tajik; Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Pashtun; and Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek.
Despite several temporary alliances, struggles among the armed groups continued until one Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban, gained control of most of the country in 1996. The Taliban used an extremist interpretation of Islam to assert repressive control of society. The economy remained in ruins, and most government services ceased.
The Taliban granted the Arab terrorist organization al Qaeda the right to use Afghanistan as a base. As al Qaeda committed a series of international terrorist acts culminating in attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the Taliban rejected international pressure to surrender al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
When the United States and allies attacked Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, the Taliban government collapsed, but Taliban and al Qaeda leaders escaped. A United States–led International Security Assistance Force began an occupation that is still in place in 2008.
Rebuilding the Country:
In December 2001, Afghan leaders in exile signed the Bonn Agreement, forming an interim government, the Afghan Interim Administration, under the leadership of the Pashtun moderate Hamid Karzai.
In 2002 Karzai was selected president of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, whose ruling council included disparate leaders of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. A new constitution, written by a specially convened Loya Jirga, or constituent assembly of regional leaders, was ratified in early 2004.
In October 2004, an overwhelming popular vote elected Karzai president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. However, regional warlords and large areas of Afghanistan remained beyond the control of the Karzai government.
Despite substantial international aid, the Afghan government, which included representatives from many factions, was unable to address numerous social and economic problems.
The parliamentary elections of September 2005 gave regional warlords substantial power in both houses of the National Assembly, further jeopardizing Karzai’s ability to unite the country. The Bonn Agreement lapsed after the 2005 elections.
Determined to end the tragic conflict in Afghanistan and promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in the country , the participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan of the Afghan Bonn Agreement – December 2001.
The agreement’s successor, the Afghanistan Compact, went into effect in January 2006 to set goals for international assistance in economic development, security, protection of human rights, and the fight against corruption and drug trafficking through 2010.
Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at an US-Afghan-Pakistan Trilateral meeting in May 2009.
In the meantime, the resurgent Taliban intensified terrorist activities in areas beyond government control, particularly the southeastern provinces. In mid-2006, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces turned back a Taliban offensive aimed at Kandahar.
However, beginning in 2007 the Taliban utilized safe havens in adjacent Pakistan to gradually restore and expand its control in Afghanistan. In early 2008, it controlled an estimated 10 percent of the country while the government controlled only an estimated 30 percent. Local tribes controlled the remaining territory.
Despite U.S.-aided efforts to reduce cultivation of poppies for narcotics production, in 2007 and 2008 that crop accounted for an increasing percentage of Afghanistan’s economy and was a major support of the Taliban.
In mid-2008, a new International Conference in Support of Afghanistan reaffirmed international commitments to the country’s economic and political stability but demanded improved coordination of aid and reduced corruption. Meanwhile, widespread economic hardship increasingly weakened the Karzai government’s support among the population.
The Pioneer Of New Democracy
Nadir Khan (aka Nadir Shah, shah meaning ‘king’) allowed rural chiefs greater autonomy. Assassinated by a student in 1933, he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son Mohamed Zahir (Zahir Shah). For two decades Zahir Shah was controlled by his two uncles, who were successive Prime Ministers.
The second uncle ushered in a ‘liberal parliament’ which sat from 1949 until 1952 when Zahir Shah’s cousin, Daoud, seized control as Prime Minister and in 1955 turned to the Soviet Union for military aid.
In 1963 Zahir Shah tried to develop a constitutional monarchy under the ‘New Democracy’ which lasted from 1964 to 1973. During this time intellectuals enjoyed greater freedom; women began to enter the workplace and government.
Zahir Shah decided to introduce a more representative form of government, but legislation permitting the existence of political parties was never signed.
Women Empowerment And The Hunger for change
In 1973 the King’s cousin, Daoud, staged a coup, proclaiming Afghanistan a republic and himself President. Cold War rivals, the USSR and the US, poured aid into the country ($2.52 billion and $533 million respectively between 1955 and 1978).
During Daoud’s brief rule the country benefited from oil and gas revenues. There were other changes. Women’s rights were confirmed by Daoud. Kabul was now full of students and its University was a hotbed of political ideology – both Communist and Islamic. Women and men studied together and came into contact with foreign teachers. They were hungry for change.
NEW ERA IN AFGHANISTAN:
Communism – Afghan-style
On 27 April 1978 Daoud was overthrown and killed in a communist coup (the Sawr Revolution) led by Afghanistan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDPA). Internal conflict soon split the party. The leaders of one faction – Parcham (‘banner’) – were expelled while the other faction, the Khalq (‘the masses’), headed by Noor Mohammed Taraki, took power.
The latter attacked Islam, ruled by decree and enjoyed little popular support. Radical reforms sparked local rebellions and army insurrections; troops defected to resistance groups. The USSR increased aid to Taraki’s regime; the US, meanwhile, actively supported resistance groups.
Although urged by the Soviets to modify its unpopular policies, the Taraki regime refused. Fearing the US would take advantage of mounting chaos, USSR President Breshnev sent in troops in December 1979. He believed Soviet troops would be able to withdraw after six months.
AFGHANISTAN TURNED INTO THE USSR’s VIETNAM
Meanwhile Taraki was overthrown, and allegedly suffocated, by party rival Hafizullah Amin, who in turn was killed by Soviet troops entering his palace. The Russians installed as leader Babrak Kamal, head of the Parcham faction, who reversed Taraki’s most unpopular policies and declared allegiance to Islam.
But the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil had already sparked a national uprising. Soviet forces responded by destroying agriculture and livestock to cut off supplies to the resistance. Russian bombing of villages claimed nearly a million Afghan lives.
The KGB-organized secret police spread terror in urban areas. Soviet troop numbers reached 120,000, but still the resistance grew – and became international. Support came via Mujahidin groups exiled in Pakistan which were funded mainly by the US, Saudi Arabia and China.
However, the US, determined to make Afghanistan the Russian ‘Vietnam’, poured in money and weapons to arm the opposition through the Pakistani secret intelligence services known as the ISI. The commander receiving most US aid was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, known to the CIA for his ‘fascist’ and ‘vicious’ tendencies.
Intellectuals, especially, were targeted in his murder campaigns. Anti-communist support also came from Britain and Pakistan. By the late 1980s, aid from the US and Saudi Arabia reached around $1 billion per year; while between 1986 and 1990 around $5 billion worth of weapons went to the ‘holy fighters’ of the Afghan Mujahidin.
SOVIET WITHDRAWAL AND THE REIGN OF DR NAJIBULLAH
The occupation claimed at least 14,000 Russian lives and was costing the USSR more than $5 billion a year. New President Mikhail Gorbachev prepared to withdraw, working to leave behind a ‘friendly’ government in Afghanistan. Dr Najibullah, head of the Afghan Intelligence Service, was installed as President.
The last Soviet troops were withdrawn in February 1989; the occupation had left 1.5 million Afghans dead, five million disabled, and five million refugees. The Mujahidin were able to capture large parts of Afghanistan, continuing to fight against the Russian puppet, Najubullah.
In April 1992 they took Kabul and declared an Islamic state. Burhannaudin Rabbani was elected President, but the Mujahidin victors were far from united and a bitter power struggle ensued.
THE HISTORY OF BATTLING WARLORDS
Commanders Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah Massoud entered Kabul to prevent a takeover of the city by rival warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his allies. Four main groups, each with their own foreign backers, fought for control of Kabul.
In August 1992 the UN reported that more than 1,800 civilians had been killed and 500,000 were fleeing the city. By the end of 1992, Kabul was devastated thanks to the actions of competing warlords; 5,000 people had died and around a million had been displaced. Rape was condoned by most factional leaders. Other cities suffered similar fates. By 1994 at least 20,000 had died – and still the leaders of the warring factions refused to meet. At this point a new force appeared.
ENTER THE MILITANT TALIBAN
A small group of religious students (or taliban) living near Kandahar objected to the behaviour of commanders controlling the area. With support from elements in Pakistan, they launched a military campaign aimed at creating an Islamic state based on strict sharia law.
The first city they took was Kandahar, home of their leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, in November 1994. They met little resistance from the war-weary population: the Taliban imposed order, collected weapons, tore down checkpoints to extort money and refused to take bribes.
Their version of Islam was harsh, extreme and dogmatic. Educated city-dwellers, especially women, were worst affected. After a while, the Taliban made alliances of convenience and increasingly relied on foreign fighters; torture, killings and other human rights violations committed against civilians intensified.
THE ROLE OF PAKISTAN & SAUDI GOVERNMENT
An estimated 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan from 1994-2001. Saudi Arabia provided funds, goods and diplomatic support. Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi who during the Soviet occupation had funded and trained Arab Mujahidin recruits, renewed his support, returning to Afghanistan in 1996.
By 2000 the Taliban controlled 90 per cent of Afghan territory, but were only officially recognized by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE. Relations with the US were especially hostile.
The US accused the Taliban of harbouring Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the 1998 bomb attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. This, combined with international concern about extreme oppression of women, and the country’s opium poppy production, prompted two rounds of UN sanctions.
9/11 AND US ROLE :
Certain that Osama bin Laden was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks, the US demanded the Taliban hand him over to face US justice. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar refused and on 27 October 2001 the US, backed by Britain, launched ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. More than 12,000 bombs were dropped in just a few weeks.
Fighting on the ground was conducted by Afghan Northern Alliance forces with the support of Coalition Special Forces. On 13 November the Taliban deserted Kabul and the Northern Alliance walked into the city.
On 16 December US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared: ‘We have destroyed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and we have ended the role of Afghanistan as a haven for terrorist activity.’ Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders fled over the porous border into Pakistan, where they were able to regroup.
GOVERNANCE AND INSECURITY :
In December 2001 the Northern Alliance and elements linked to the former king, Zahir Shah, were brought together in Germany. The result was the Bonn Agreement – a deal between the victorious factions, which included warlords guilty of murder, rape, extortion and rocketing Kabul during the 1990s. An interim authority was set up. A Loya Jirga (or grand assembly) was convened in 2002, headed by Hamid Karzai.
In 2004 a new Afghan constitution was ratified and Hamid Karzai was elected President. Parliamentary and provincial elections were held the following year, bringing in a greater proportion of women MPs. After July 2006 the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) took over responsibility for security from the US-led coalition in parts of Afghanistan; fighting and insurgency attacks intensified during 2007.
Taliban are back – what next for Afghanistan?
After 20 years of war, the Taliban have swept to victory in Afghanistan.
It comes after foreign forces announced their withdrawal following a deal between the US and the Taliban, two decades after US forces removed the militants from power in 2001.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
Taliban forces have pledged not to allow Afghanistan to become a base for terrorists who could threaten the West.
But questions are already being asked about how the group will govern the country, and what their rule means for women, human rights, and political freedoms.
Why did the US fight a war in Afghanistan and why did it last so long?
Back in 2001, the US was responding to 9/11 attack in New York and Washington, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. Officials identified Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, and its leader Osama Bin Laden, as responsible.
Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban, the Islamists who had been in power since 1996.
When they refused to hand him over, the US intervened militarily, quickly removing the Taliban and vowing to support democracy and eliminate the terrorist threat.
The militants slipped away and later regrouped.
Nato allies had joined the US and a new Afghan government took over in 2004 but deadly Taliban attacks continued. President Barack Obama’s “troop surge” in 2009 helped push back the Taliban but it was not long term.
In 2014, at the end of what was the bloodiest year since 2001, Nato’s international forces ended their combat mission, leaving responsibility for security to the Afghan army.
That gave the Taliban momentum and they seized more territory.
Peace talks between the US and the Taliban started tentatively, with the Afghan government pretty much uninvolved, and the agreement on a withdrawal came in February 2020 in Qatar.
The US-Taliban deal did not stop the Taliban attacks – they switched their focus instead to Afghan security forces and civilians, and targeted assassinations. Their areas of control grew.
Who are the Taliban?
They emerged in the civil war that followed the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, predominantly in the south-west and the Pakistan border areas.
They vowed to fight corruption and improve security, but also followed an austere form of Islam.
By 1998, they had taken control of almost all of the country.
Find out more on the Afghan conflict 2001-2021
They enforced their own hardline version of Sharia, or Islamic law, and introduced brutal punishments. Men were made to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka. TV, music and cinema were banned.
After their overthrow they regrouped in Pakistani border areas.
How costly has the war been?
In terms of lives lost, it is obviously not easy to say exactly. The number of coalition casualties is much better recorded than Taliban and Afghan civilians.
Research by Brown University estimates losses in the Afghan security forces at 69,000. It puts the number of civilians and militants killed at about 51,000 each.
More than 3,500 coalition soldiers have died since 2001 – about two-thirds of them Americans. More than 20,000 US soldiers have been injured.
According to the UN, Afghanistan has the third-largest displaced population in the world.
Since 2012, some five million people have fled and not been able to return home, either displaced within Afghanistan or taking refuge in neighbouring countries.
Brown University research also puts the US spending on the conflict – including military and reconstruction funds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan – at $978bn (£706bn) up to 2020.
What could happen next?
How the Taliban plan to govern Afghanistan remains unclear.. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says the group will respect the rights of women and minorities “as per Afghan norms and Islamic values”.
On Tuesday, the militants declared an amnesty across Afghanistan and said it wanted women to join its government.
But there are fears over women’s freedom to work, to dress as they choose, or even to leave home alone under Taliban rule.
DURING 1990s :
During the 1990s the Taliba forced women to dress in certain ways and denied them equal rights
Another major fear is that the country will once again become a training ground for terrorism.
Taliban officials insist that they will fully adhere to the US deal and prevent any group from using Afghan soil as a base for attacks against the US and its allies.
They say they aim only to implement an “Islamic government” and will not pose a threat to any other country.
But many analysts say the Taliban and al-Qaeda are inseparable, with the latter’s fighters heavily embedded and engaged in training activity.
It is also important to remember that the Taliban are not a centralised and unified force. Some leaders may want to keep the West muted by not stirring up trouble but hardliners may be reluctant to break links with al-Qaeda.
Just how powerful al-Qaeda is and whether it could now rebuild its global network is also unclear.
Then there is the regional branch of the Islamic State group – ISKP (Khorasan Province) – which the Taliban oppose.
Like al-Qaeda, ISKP has been degraded by the US and Nato but could use the post-withdrawal period to regroup.
Its fighter numbers could be only between a few hundred and 2,000 but it may try to gain footholds in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and parts of Tajikistan, which could be a serious regional concern.