Afghanistan • Case study in changing geopolitics • Monarchy until 1973 (Zahir Shah) – On top of ethnic and tribal structure • 1973-1978: Republic led by Muhammad Daud Khan • 1978: Communist coup--People’s Democratic Party – Significant reforms (replace tribal structure, land reform, reduced power of Islamic clerics) – Instability (tribal, business, and Islamic resistance) – Possibility of government’s fall Soviet Occupation • December 1979, 85,000 Soviet troops invade Afghanistan • Install communist regime • Disparate resistance groups – Islamic groups, tribal groups, business groups • Mujihadeen—Islamic resistance • Brutal, long struggle until 1989 – Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan beginning in 1988 Proxy War • During Soviet occupation (1979-1989) • CIA joins Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to give significant aid to Islamic resistance – – – – Largest covert aid program since Vietnam War 1980-1987 as much as $15 billion Weapons (stinger missiles), supplies, training Orchestrated out of Pakistan by ISI—Pakistan’s security agency • Why Islamic resistance? – Evidence of commitment of Islamic fighters – Incite Islamic unrest in Soviet Union – Iran counterbalance • Sunni groups vs. Iran’s Shi’i Islam Anatomy of Mujihadeen • Several components: • Afghani Islamic groups in Afghanistan • Islamists recruited mostly from Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.)—the Afghanis • Taliban (students) and similar groups – Afghani refugees in camps in Western Pakistan (mostly Pashtun) – Saudi aid and expertise—2500 madrassas • Wahhabi Islam – CIA financial aid – Overseen by ISI, Pakistan’s security organization • Looking to create an ally in the west Post-1988 Afghanistan • Soviet withdrawal in 1988-9 • Fall of Soviet Union, 1991 • U.S. withdraws much funding and interest in Afghanistan – No longer of cold war importance • Afghanistan’s Communist government falls in 1992 • Mujihadeen and ethnic groups struggle to take power • Rise of Taliban from 1994 with extensive ISI backing – 1996 capture Kabul – Control ~90% of Afghanistan until recently – Recognized as legitimate only by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia bin Laden’s role • During Soviet occupation (1979-1989): leader of Harakat ul-Ansar (volunteers movement) – Recruited non-Afghanis (mainly Arabs) to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan – Funding: his own fortune, CIA, ISI – CIA expertise, training through ISI – Engaged in guerrilla warfare, terrorism against Soviets with support of U.S., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia – Notion that Islamic resistance defeated the Soviet Union and brought about its collapse More bin Laden • Soviets defeated; next threat to Islam: U.S. • Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia – Has established new organization: al-Qa’ida (the base) – Many other Afghanis return to their home countries • bin Laden critical of – U.S. air strikes and sanctions against Iraq – U.S. support of Israel – U.S. backing of pro-western autocrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria – Saudi government allowing U.S. troops on the Arabian peninsula U.S. troops in peninsula • Some 5,000 troops and equipment in Saudi Arabia – 4,000 in Kuwait, 1,300 in Bahrain, 50 in Qatar • To enforce no fly-zone in Iraq • To protect against a coup in Saudi Arabia bin Laden moves • • • • His strident protests against Saudi government Leaves for Sudan in 1991 (taking ~$250 million in assets) 1993 first WTC bombing Saudi government strips him of Saudi citizenship in 1994 – 1995 bomb at Saudi National Guard base in Riyadh • 1996, Taliban gain control of Afghanistan • 1996 U.S. and Saudi Arabia pressure Sudanese government, he is expelled • Returns to Afghanistan under protection of Taliban and Mullah Omar (related by marriage) – 1996 truck bomb near Dhahran air base (19 American soldiers killed) Further attacks • 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania, Kenya (212 killed, most Kenyan and Tanzanian) – Clinton launches cruise missile attacks against bin Laden camps in Afghanistan • • • • 2000, U.S.S. Cole bombing off Yemen (15 killed) 2001, WTC and Pentagon (thousands killed) U.S. begins war against Taliban regime and al-Qa’ida Returns its attention to Afghanistan as a strategic area – Except, now fighting bitterly against its former proxies (mujihadeen) – Russia and Putin now allies • Further U.S. operations in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq?
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