In the 1980s the conflict in Afghanistan was essentially a struggle between the forces of modernization versus traditional Islamic fundamentalism. In 1979 the Soviet Union intervened militarily to support a government that was seeking to modernize while being threatened by Islamic guerilla activity. The U.S. and other nations provided support to the anti-government guerillas, which included Osama Bin Laden and his followers. U.S. leaders today are blaming Bin Laden for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
The Reagan-Bush team and their allies in Congress saw the struggle only in Cold War terms of communism versus anticommunism. They were willing to support Bin Laden and other Islamic extremists because they were useful allies against the USSR, seen by the Islamics as a land
of "Western infidels."
Islamic resistance, with U.S. support, was eventually successful in driving the Soviets out and bringing about the collapse of the Afghan government in 1992. This opened the door for the Taliban to emerge and take control of the capital in 1996. At this time the Taliban are sheltering Bin Laden and his network of terrorists.
1978: Leftist coup after which People's Democratic Party (PDPA) leader Taraki became President. The Taraki government initiated a program of land reform and women's emancipation and a campaign against illiteracy.
1979: Taraki assasination after Islamic fundamentalist guerillas take control of the countryside. Soviet troops entered Afghanistan to support the PDPA government.
Over the decade, the Islamic traditionalists' rebellion intensified and was aided by the U.S., China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. provided money, arms, and training to the rebels, among which were Omasa Bin Laden and his followers.
1989: Soviets forced to withdraw; rebels continued their insurgency against the PDPA government and terrorized the civilian population.
1992: PDPA government fell.
1994: Taliban movement emerged.
1996: Taliban took control of the capital and provided shelter to Bin Laden.
With gratitude for the sources above, this brief summary was prepared by Michael P. Wright, of Norman, Oklahoma, USA.
For more information about Michael Wright, see the biographical summary here:
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