Bookburners Out

Before the Russians invaded, Afghanistan was a somewhat stable society where everyone accepted their role – Shiites were lower class and could have occupations like “servant” or “sewage cleaner” and Sunnis were upper class and could be leaders, warriors or academics. Which Sunni clan got to rule was a matter of who could hold down the fort. Afghanistan had a much beloved King (Mohammed Zahir Shah) who presided over a (for the most part) unchanging Afghanistan while much of the world was being developed, but whose gov’t fell in a 1973 coup backed by Afghan Sunnis with bigger ambitions. The coup was bloodless and happened while the King was out of the country. The new leader made Afghanistan a republic and promised to bring Afghanistan into the modern age.

Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah’s 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973 … Afghanistan was a beneficiary of … the Soviet Union and the United States … vied for influence … building Afghanistan’s main highways, airports and other vital infrastructure. By the late 1960s, many Western travelers were using these … as part of the “hippie trail.” In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan. Wikipedia.

But his regime would be quickly toppled by a Russian-backed coup – which brought a new regime. The Russians gave Afghanistan new power plants, roads and modern housing, while also weeding out anti-Communists using totalitarian tactics. When that regime faced being overthrown, Russia invaded. The Russian occupation was universally hated across Afghanistan but survived by using totalitarian tactics like torture, concentration camps, executions and using friends and neighbors as informants. Many Afghans who had the means to fled in a steady stream, hoping to escape before getting thrown into these new gulags. The rest had no means to pay a smuggler and many joined resistance forces with their regional clans. Backed by US funds, resistance fighters called the Mujahadeens battered the Russian occupation with advanced weapons, turning the tide.

The PDPA, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Hafizullah Amin, overthrew the regime of Daoud by assassinating the President along with his family and relatives … The PDPA began imprisoning, torturing and murdering thousands … On the other hand, they prohibited usury, made statements on women’s rights by declaring equality of the sexes and introducing women to political life. Wikipedia

After the Russians fled in the early 1990s, different Sunni groups of the “Northern Alliance” and the Mujahadeens that fought the Russians together now fought for control of Afghanistan in a miserable civil war that famously rendered the entire city of Kabul into a bizarre moonscape. It was funded by Pakistan. The people there during this time lived in a way similar to Sarajevo, having to get around by making pathways through holes in walls of private homes and trenches under streets.

The sovereignty of Afghanistan was vested formally in the Islamic State of Afghanistan, an entity created in April 1992, after the fall of the Soviet-backed Najibullah government. […] With the exception of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, all of the parties […] were ostensibly unified under this government in April 1992. […] Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, for its part, refused to recognize the government for most of the period discussed in this report and launched attacks against government forces and Kabul generally. […] Shells and rockets fell everywhere. Human Rights Watch. Wikipedia.

In addition, Saudi Arabia and Iran – as competitors for regional hegemony – supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. Wikipedia.

Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units or a system of justice and accountability for the newly-created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form. Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos… Human Rights Watch

Funded from abroad (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya), a Sunni supremacist party called the Taliban eventually moved in with superior firepower, ending the civil war, forcing the Northern Alliance into a far eastern part of Afghanistan. The Taliban started “ethnically cleansing” Afghanistan of Shiites, all infidels, even removing “infidel” holy sites that stood for centuries.

The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government … But Pakistan provided increased support to the Taliban … The Taliban seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Taliban comes from the word Talib, which is a Nazi Brownshirt-style morality cop. Under Taliban rule, Talibs in public enforced a hated interpretation of Shari’a on the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban welcomed foreign “guests,” the financial and logistical backers of their takeover, including the most controversial organization in the world, Al Quaida, an active terrorist movement fighting a Jihad, or holy war. Once settled in Afghanistan, Al Quaida’s well-backed recruits fanned out all over the world, staging (how many?) attacks between 1998 and 2001, eventually hitting New York City with the 9/11 attack. In response, the United States invaded and seized Afghanistan from the Taliban, set up a new government using people associated with the old western-friendly Republic and monarchy that existed there before the Russians invaded, while the Taliban retreated and waged a guerrilla war. The US never gained control of Taliban-dominated southern Afghanistan while Northern Afghanistan is a stronghold of the government the US installed. Then something happened that caused a wobble. Some ignoramuses burned Korans on the military base (think it was Bagram). It is being said after this Koran burning, the many peoples of Afghanistan have become aware the US is not a legitimate part of Afghanistan and maybe pught to be thrown out at long last. I would not be surprised if we are literally chased out of there now. In the history of Afghanistan occupation failures, it was always a pivotal moment like that that spelled the end of an occupation.

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