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Afghanistan, 'each Afghan has his God and his gun'


An out of date map of Afghanistan which borders on Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan, Sunday Times


The 20 year military campaign by US Armed Forces, to destroy the Taliban did not succeed. 69,000 Afghan soldiers were killed fighting the Taliban over 2 decades. Democracy cannot be dropped from a plane at 13,000 metres. The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, the withdrawal of US air-power, the intimidation of Afghan soldier's families by the Taliban undermined the Afghan Army who negotiated their withdrawal from a situation in which they could not win.


The chaos in Kabul airport August 2021, could have been averted by the US holding Bagram military airport to the north of Kabul, which could be readily defended. Kabul airport, despite blast walls, is not easily defended. The presence of civilians invited a car bomb with c.200 casualties. A US Colonel, suggesting Bagram airport, was removed from his duties.


Afghanistan, a disparate country of tribes, was created by arbitrarily drawing the Durand line the boundary established in the Hindu Kush in 1893 running through the tribal lands between Afghanistan and British India, marking their respective spheres of influence, thereby creating Afghanistan and Pakistan. The British Empire on turning one fifth of the world red with blood, decided the fate of these two countries by divide and rule. This crude policy was repeated in Cyprus c.1,000 casualties and Northern Ireland c.3,900 casualties, and, in 1947 India and Pakistan were created incurring one million casualties.


40 million (2021) Afghans reside in Afghanistan with 42% Pashto speaking Pashtans to east and south; 23% Dari speaking Tadjiks to north and west, along with Mongol descended Hazaras, Kuchi and Aimaq nomads, Persians, Baluchis, Turkic speaking Uzbeks and Turkomen, many of them refugees from Stalin's Russia and Nuristanis of unknown origin.


Afghanistan was established in 1747 by the Pathan king, Ahmad Shah Durrani. Afghanistan is Moslem in religion, culture and everyday life. Predominantly Sunni there is a 15% Shia minority. Invasion and bloody battles dictate Afghan history. Russia and Britain vied to control Afghanistan with bloody invasions. When Britain withdrew from India, Afghanistan came under Russian influence. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan 1979/80 to prevent an Islamic republic was characterised by destroying agricultural areas, large scale depopulation, maximum use of firepower - air and artillery, emphasis on intelligence (aircraft, ground patrols, agents and informers), combined arms mechanised forces often helicopter borne.


Russia established the DRA, the Afghan Army, fully functional in 1980, and a government that endured for three years after the dignified Russian withdrawal in 1989. Afghan resistance groups, Moslem Islamists, led by Mullah Omar the Taliban leader countered the Northern Alliance led by Ahmad Shah Masoud who was killed by a suicide bomber 9/9/2001 two days before the 11/9/2001 attack on the World Trade Centre and took over Afghanistan 1996 -2001.


The US/NATO invasion of Afghaistan 2001-2021 displaced and depleted the Taliban. US forces habitually alienated local people by bombing wedding parties and gatherings of innocent civilians. The torture of detainees at Bagram airport revealed US insensitivities to detainees and their civil rights. The US withdrawal is undignified and unplanned with essential Afghan cadres left to the cruel Taliban. Terrorism is the hallmark of the Taliban, yet, 70,000 drug dealing, gun toting Taliban are not capable of governing modern oriented Afghanistan with civil liberties for women. At present resistance to the Taliban is growing.


Now, following this debacle, the US will no longer act a World Policeman, no 7th Cavalry to the rescue.


Source: Russia's War in Afghanistan, David Isby, Osprey Publishing, 2000; Irish Times daily news reports.

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