Soviet Union invades Afghanistan On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978. As midnight approached, the Soviets organized a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and three divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within a few days, the Soviets had secured Kabul, deploying a special assault unit against Tajberg Palace. Elements of the Afghan army loyal to Hafizullah Amin put up a fierce, but brief resistance. On December 27, Babrak Karmal, exiled leader of the Parcham faction of the Marxist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), was installed as Afghanistan’s new head of government, and Soviet ground forces entered Afghanistan from the north.The Soviets, however, were met with fierce resistance when they ventured out of their strongholds into the countryside. Resistance fighters, called mujahidin, saw the Christian or atheist Soviets controlling Afghanistan as a defilement of Islam as well as of their traditional culture.The mujahidin employed guerrilla tactics against the Soviets. They would attack or raid quickly, then disappear into the mountains, causing great destruction without pitched battles. The fighters used whatever weapons they could grab from the Soviets or were given by the United States. The tide of the war turned with the 1987 introduction of U.S. shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. The Stingers allowed the mujahidin to shoot down Soviet planes and helicopters on a regular basis. New Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decided it was time to get out. Demoralized and with no victory in sight, Soviet forces started withdrawing in 1988. The last Soviet soldier crossed back across the border on February 15, 1989. It was the first Soviet military expedition beyond the Eastern bloc since World War II and marked the end of a period of improving relations (known as détente) in the Cold War. Subsequently, the SALT II arms treaty was shelved and the U.S. began to re-arm. Fifteen thousand Soviet soldiers were killed. The long-term impact of the invasion and subsequent war was profound. First, the Soviets never recovered from the public relations and financial losses, which significantly contributed to the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991. Secondly, the war created a breeding ground for terrorism and the rise of Osama bin Laden.
Why did U.S. occupy Afghanistan?
On October 7, 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan to avenge the al-Qaida-orchestrated September 11 terrorist attacks. The primary aim of the US invasion was to hunt down Osama bin Laden and punish the Taliban for providing safe haven to al-Qaida leaders. It took little effort on part of the US to dismantle the Taliban regime. Bin Laden, however, managed to escape. The former al-Qaida head was eventually killed by US troops in Pakistan’s Abbottabad city in 2011. The invasion was largely a success, although Taliban and al-Qaida fighters remained evasive and managed to regroup just a few years after the Western-backed Hamid Karzai government came to power in Kabul. By 2005, the Taliban had regained much of its lost power and launched a violent movement to challenge the NATO presence. But, for many Afghans, the US invasion and the subsequent collapse of the Taliban regime brought a positive change. It ushered in a new era , with many people becoming optimistic about their country’s future. What went right? The US-led invasion boosted Afghanistan’s economy. The health care, education, and the overall quality of life in big cities improved substantially. Reconstruction and development work began, and new jobs were created for the Afghan people. “The first four years after the US invasion were relatively good,” Ahmad Wali, a 30-year-old Afghan in Ghazni city, told DW. Nematullah Tanin, a Kabul-based journalist, agrees: “We were able to write our own constitution, and had a functioning democracy. These remain our biggest achievements.” Arezo Askarzada, a lecturer at a university in Kabul, lived as refugee in Pakistan before NATO forces invaded Afghanistan. She said that she and her family returned to Afghanistan after the invasion in search of a better future. “We had to rebuild everything. Despite these hardships, the last 20 years were the best years of my life. I could study, and later I started teaching other people, including women,” she told DW. What went wrong? The optimism didn’t last for long. In 2003, the US got involved in the Iraq war, hoping that the Karzai administration, with support from Western forces, would quell a nascent insurgency and put Afghanistan on the path of progress. “At critical moments in the fight for Afghanistan, the Bush administration diverted scarce intelligence and reconstruction resources to Iraq, including elite CIA teams and Special Forces units involved in the search for terrorists,” The New York Times newspaper wrote in August, 2007. “President Bush’s critics have long contended that the Iraq war has diminished America’s effort in Afghanistan, which the administration has denied, but an examination of how the policy unfolded within the administration reveals a deep divide over how to proceed in Afghanistan and a series of decisions that at times seemed to relegate it to an afterthought as Iraq unraveled,” the Times added. From 2005 onward, US officials continued to accuse Pakistan of providing sanctuaries to Taliban militants. But Washington never put enough pressure on Islamabad to deal with the issue.
The resurgence of the Taliban in the second half of the 2000s saw a spike in violence in the country. Suicide bomb attacks became a routine, and civilians paid a heavy price. “Everything had changed for the worse. There had been daily attacks and armed clashes in our area,” Wali said. “Many people I knew had lost their lives. We had lost our homes and everything that we owned.” Policy failures Akram Arife, a lecturer at the Kabul University, told DW that the US was bound to fail. “Washington should have known there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict. The US should have looked for other solutions after the invasion,” he said. The expert said the US had focused on Kabul and ignored other parts of the country. “Most politicians that Washington supported did not have a deep connect with Afghans. Their understanding of Afghan society was flawed, certainly not sufficient to run the government,” Arife said, adding that the changes were not organic and therefore didn’t last after the US forces exited the country. A different country The Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, without facing any resistance from President Ashraf Ghani’s forces. Their return to power has raised many questions about the two-decade-long US military presence in Afghanistan. For instance, what did the US achieve in Afghanistan after spending so much time and money in the war-ravaged country? “We lost everything that we had built in the last 20 years after the Taliban returned to power,” the lecturer Askarzada said. “I am back to the same place where I was 20 years ago,” she added. “I cannot work anymore.”
Although the Taliban’s comeback is a setback to Western intervention in Afghanistan, from the Afghan perspective, the US invasion was not an utter failure. Experts say Afghan society has changed tremendously since the US invasion — so much so that the Taliban also feel the need to present a “benign” and “moderate” face to their compatriots and the international community. After capturing Kabul, the militant group said it would form an inclusive government, and that the new regime would be qualitatively different from the one established before the US invasion. The middle class has expanded in the country, and the number of educated people and entrepreneurs has also grown in the past two decades. Different groups — including women, academics and common citizens — are protesting the Taliban rule in different parts of the country. The Taliban definitely find themselves in a changed country. Hussain Sirat and Shabnam Alokozay contributed to this story.
Can you buy guns in Afghanistan?
LEGAL(ISH) The overwhelming majority of modern small arms outside of Afghan government control are technically illegal without a special permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior. Pistol carry licenses can be acquired by private citizens, but it’s a very lengthy process involving at least two government officials to essentially take full responsibility for an applicant should there be any wrongdoing. Private security guards can legally carry arms. Self-loading rifles, such as the ever-popular Kalashnikov in numerous variants, caliber, and country of origin, are owned by various private companies that provide their own access control point security. Licenses for these rifles are somewhat easier to acquire due to their rifles belonging to private security companies, but the registration process is still arduous without at minimum bribes of some sort. Some private civilians in the city of Kabul actually carry handguns or rifles for personal defense that are technically illegal and can be confiscated if found by ANSF authorities. However, this is a risk that some, especially businessmen, are willing to undertake, because the security forces often can’t be depended on during an assassination attempt or kidnapping for ransom (one of the more frequent crimes conducted by organized crime syndicates).
Some businessmen risk openly carrying firearms due to kidnap and ransom threats. LEGAL Similar to neighboring Pakistan, there’s a civilian firearms ownership loophole. This lies with commercially available shotguns and antiques. Because both categories don’t fire modern handgun or rifle cartridges in use by the security forces of either country, they’re given a pass legally and not really considered a threat for locals to own. In an area of the city known as Kuli-Pushta, an old-world market of tightly packed shoppers, jostling sellers, and live chickens exists, centered around a river that runs through the area. This is where a significant number of commercial shotgun shops are concentrated. The overwhelming majority of 12- and 16-gauge shotguns that exist in these locales are Turkish imports. Names such as UTAS, Dreynayva, and Asil are quite common, even to the point where some of the models available in Kabul are the exact same that are exported to the United States.
What was Afghan miracle 1979