Afghanistan: When will There be Peace? Part I
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nevertheless, the great powers have been concerned with the area for hundreds of years. The British Empire fought three wars there. The Soviet Union sent over 100,000 troops there in the 1980s. And now it is the United States and NATO that are in place. President Barack Obama has recently presented his new strategy for Afghanistan, a country located in Asia according to mysteryaround.com. The United States is increasing the number of soldiers and is asking its allies for further contributions, both civilian and military. For many European countries, this is difficult. The popular support is mixed, and many are critical. Is not Afghanistan known as the “cemetery of empires”?
- Why did the United States decide to overthrow the Taliban?
- Who are the United States and NATO really fighting against?
- What role does Pakistan play and how is development there?
- What are the consequences of the attempts to introduce Western models of democracy?
2: Crossing influences
Afghans have both humor and self-irony. One story is that God created the world from real active ingredients. But when he was done, there were quite a few bites and debris and quick to spare. These he gathered up and cast down to the earth. That’s how Afghanistan came to be.
Afghanistan is at a crossroads between many cultures. It has done so for all time. Countless times, people have wandered through the areas that eventually became Afghanistan. Some were, others were displaced and still others were just passing through. Most often, the area was ruled by larger empires – in Persia, India or Central Asia. But in 1747, the Pashtun officer Ahmed Shah Durrani established his own Afghan empire. He and his successors ruled from Kabul over a large area that also included parts of what is today Pakistan. But there were still local uprisings, and the central government was weak.
Afghanistan – some numbers
Afghanistan is today one of the world’s five poorest countries. Over 30% of the gross domestic product comes from drug production. 93% of the world’s opium – which is the raw material for heroin – is grown in the country. There are over 70,000 military forces in Afghanistan, from over 40 different countries – and there will be more. President Barack Obama has declared developments in Afghanistan as one of the most important security policy issues for the United States. Norway also contributes militarily in the country. 5–600 Norwegian soldiers serve there at any one time.
The cost of international efforts in Afghanistan is enormous compared to the country’s GDP, which is only around US $ 13 billion. Precise figures are lacking, but the international community probably spends a total of more than four times as much every single year. Most goes to military purposes. But why is Afghanistan considered so important, and what is the West trying to achieve there?
3: September 11, 2001
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are the direct cause of the US invasion of Afghanistan in October of that year. Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden had been in Afghanistan since 1996. But an invasion of the country had not been seriously planned by the United States before. The country was not considered strategically important enough and was also known as the “cemetery of empires” – an inhospitable place for any invading army.
The United States was not unfamiliar with Afghanistan. The Soviet Union entered the country in December 1979. By proxy, the United States fought war against the Soviet Union in this ethnically complex mountainous country throughout most of the 1980s. Large quantities of weapons were transported to Pakistan and from there sent on into Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia contributed dollar for dollar with as much money as the United States.
From the Middle East also came several volunteer Arabs, who partly fought together with Afghan mujahedin (resistance fighters) and who partly provided extra private funding for the resistance struggle. Among these were Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later formed al-Qaeda. Throughout the 1980s, the United States and the core of al-Qaeda had the same goal and fought on the same side. In fact, the United States indirectly supported the construction of al-Qaeda through financial support for Koranic schools (madrasas) in Pakistan.
The extensive needle-stick operations by the mujahedin broke morale and eventually destroyed the political will of the Soviet Union. In February 1989, the Soviets withdrew. The United States lost interest in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union disappeared. Afghan President Najibullah was nevertheless predicted a rapid fall in the absence of Soviet forces, but clung to power until 1992.
4: Periods 1989–2001
The period between 1992-96 was a terrible nightmare for the people of Afghanistan, and especially of Kabul. Different commanders each controlled their own territories and fought among themselves for power, prestige and money. Civil war with grenade attacks, looting, murder and rape affected a population that had already been through more than a decade of war. It was in this chaos that the Taliban emerged. The people cried out for order and justice, and many therefore supported the Taliban, which emerged as a new force. Eventually, they also received help from the Pakistani authorities and marched towards Kabul, which fell in September 1996.
The hostilities continued in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001, but the Taliban eventually gained control of approx. 90% of the territory. Osama bin Laden and his people came to terms with the Taliban and were allowed to settle down. Several thousand foreigners from the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, China, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, Europe and even the United States were trained in military skills, sabotage, bombing, counter-intelligence, etc. It was in these camps that personnel were selected and the planning carried out by the terrorist attacks. against the United States on September 11th.