Transcript: The 40 Year War in Afghanistan Explained
We made a quick guide that goes over major events in the war for the past 40 years. All these events have led up to the recent “Peace Deal” between the U.S. and the Taliban. What’s next for the future of Afghanistan?
The Coup of 1973:
In 1973, Mohammed Zahir Shah’s 40 year rule over Afghanistan was put to an abrupt stop by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan, who overthrew him in a coup and declared himself president.
Daoud Khan and his family were killed in 1978 by the Soviet-backed PDPA. They installed their leader, Nur Muhammad Taraki, who was thought to better reflect the party’s communist values.
The United States, in an effort to combat the spread of communism, began funneling weapons through Pakistan to aid the Mujahideen. With a weak and unstable government, Afghanistan was invaded by the 80,000 Soviet troops on Christmas Eve of 1979. Tribal warlords were pushed out from their lands and the Mujahideen or “those engaged in jihad”, were soon formed through various groups.
Under the command of several leaders such as Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Mujahideen groups and other freedom fighters fought Soviet troops using guerilla warfare techniques. Despite the USSR having a clear advantage, the Mujahideen held their own. Internal politics of the USSR contributed to the eventual withdrawal and defeat of the Soviets.
By 1988, the Geneva Accords were signed and the USSR agreed to withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan without further intervention. By February 15, 1989, the last of the Soviet army withdrew.
Effects of the Soviet-Afghan War:
2,000,000 Civilian Deaths. It is estimated that about 5-10 Million Fled Afghanistan. 2 Million Afghans Internally Displaced.
The Fight for Power.:
The Soviet Union continued to aid Afghanistan’s government and support Mohammad Najibullah’s presidency until 1991. Once support ended, the Mujahideen successfully captured Kabul in 1992. Disagreements between how Afghanistan was to be governed ensued and war broke out mostly between Massoud’s alliance and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Pakistani-backed army.
Rise of the Taliban:
Fighting between the two factions continued until 1994 when a new force was introduced, the Taliban. By 1996, the Taliban took control of Kabul and officially established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They also brutally executed Najibullah, who was under UN protection at the time. On September 9th 2001, the Taliban carried out an assassination on Massoud, who continued to fight against the Taliban’s tyrannical regime until that point.
As tensions were at an all-time high after 9/11, the U.S. declared a War on Terror and demanded that the Taliban stop harboring extremist groups in Afghanistan such as Al Qaeda. The Taliban stubbornly denied the demand and the 19 year long war between the U.S. and Afghanistan began.
War with the U.S:
For the past 19 years, the U.S. has occupied Afghanistan with upwards of 100,000 American troops at times. This has inadvertently caused a lot of civilian casualties. The United Nations has estimated over 40,000 civilian deaths and even more injuries since the start of the war in 2001. So has the U.S. been successful at their mission of eradicating the Taliban? The answer is no, not at all. In fact, the Taliban control MORE areas in Afghanistan now than ever before. Knowing this, President Donald Trump has declared an end to the war and is withdrawing American troops. However, the war in Afghanistan is not quite over.
After many delays, the U.S. and the Taliban have signed a “Peace Deal” with specific conditions the Taliban must adhere to. So far, these conditions have not been met which makes many doubt the credibility of the Taliban running a legitimate government. It is now up to Intra-Afghan peace talks to decide the faith of important issues such as political power-sharing, the role of Islam, and women’s rights.
What’s Next for Afghanistan’s Future?
Let’s hear your thoughts @watanproject
Blog post by @sulaiman.wp. Character animations by Feature History