Civil war in Afghanistan

Civil war in Afghanistan

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Civil war in Afghanistan

caption=Sharbat Gula, photographed by Steve McCurry, on the famous cover of the June 1985 Edition of National Geographic Magazine. As her fate was unknown, her picture symbolised the plight of the Afghan people and became iconic for the Afghan Civil War.
date=1978–(conflict still ongoing)
result=Conflict ongoing
casualties3=1,500,000–2,000,000 civilians dead

The Civil war in Afghanistan, also known as Afghan Civil War, began in 1978 and has continued since, though it has included several distinct phases.


The Saur Revolution

April 27, 1978 A military coup d'état was led by the unified communist parties of Khalq and Parcham, after the death of one of Parcham's prominent members. President Mohammed Daoud Khan was killed along with members of his family as coup forces took the presidential palace. [p. 88 of Ewans, Martin (2002) "Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics" HarperCollins, New York, [ Page 88] ISBN 0-06-050507-9 ]

Soviet involvement

The newly installed communist government encountered resistance to its programs. At its request, the Soviet Union intervened with its armed forces. Even with Soviet support the government failed to effectively control the country and stop the rebellion, which had support from Pakistan, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union withdrew its forces in 1989.

Government collapse

After the Soviet withdrawal, the Republic of Afghanistan continued to deal with attacks from the Mujahideen. They received funding and arms from the Soviet Union for several years and actually increased their effectiveness past levels ever achieved during the Soviet military presence. But the government was dealt a major blow when Abdul Rashid Dostum, a leading general, defected to the Mujahideen.

Mujahideen divides

After taking power, the unity of the Mujahideen evaporated and fighting began between them. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was blamed for a devastating rocket attack on Kabul, prompting Dostum to launch a campaign against him. Dostum later joined forces with Hekmatyar and fighting destroyed much of Kabul as the nation was split along ethnic lines. In 1994, the Taliban Movement was formed in southern Afghanistan with Pakistani support. It made rapid gains for the next two years against both Dostum and Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Massoud; in 1996 the Taliban took the capital.

Taliban control

After the fall of Kabul, Dostum and Massoud joined forces to form the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Northern Alliance). During this time the Taliban continued to make gains against the Alliance, eventually taking up to 95% of Afghanistan. Dostum was forced out of Afghanistan, and Massoud was assassinated on September 9, 2001.

United States involvement

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, (known popularly in English speaking countries as the "Northern Alliance",) with the help of United States and allies overthrew the Taliban and established a new republic under president Hamid Karzai. The Taliban continues a resistance movement in the lawless and tribal southern part of the country, often using Pakistan as a safe haven to plan and reorganize for later operations.


External links

* [ Backgrounder on Afghanistan: History of the War October 2001]
* [ America's Jihad] by William Blum
* [ Ending Afghanistan’s Civil by James Dobbins, The RAND Corporation, Testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on January 30, 2007]
* [ Fueling Aghanistan's War-Press Backgrounder]

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