Insurgency in Afghanistan (Post-Soviet), 1992–1996
Mujahideen’s Afganistan 1992-1996
Afganistan is a territory which was a battleground between the great powers for centuries. It had a war history since the 3rd Century of Ashoka’s Maurayan Empire and becomes a buffer state between British and Russian empire by the end of the 19th Century resulted production of great warriors of history like Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and Babur [1, 2]. Multiple civilisations influenced the diverse culture of Afganistan which could be a potential cause of conflict in modern day Afganistan. The focus of this article is the Afganistan under Jihadi rule.
With the establishment of “Democratic Republic of Afghanistan” by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) in 1978, the socialist agenda was implemented, including equal rights for women, changing the national flag from traditional green colour to red colour and new credit system in the countryside resulted agriculture crisis. In response to these radical changes and the Soviet invasion of 1979, angered the conservatives who considered the new shift as an attack on Islam. The resistance groups were organised with an aim to fight for: removal of an imperialistic foreign power and preserve Islam and traditional Afghan ways. These groups and their fighters were known as Mujahideen (insurgents during communist government) or ‘fighters in a holy war (Jihad)’ (Afghan resistance fighters adapted this designation, as they were fighting a jihad against a non-Muslim (Communist/’infidel’) enemy). The most famous groups were those of the Peshawar Seven. This conflict ended with the power shifts within the Soviet Union and its ultimate dissolution in December 1991. As Moscow and Washington agreed to cease military aid to their respective clients.
The UN sought agreement from the Afghan parties to a political settlement, Mujahideen positioned themselves as a leaders. Under pressure from the UN, on 18th March 1992, President Najibullah announced his intention to resign, but he was blocked from leaving the country at the airport and took shelter in the UN compound. By 25th April 1992 forces of the newly formed “Northern Alliance” of non-Pashtun Mujahideen with former regime militias from Northern Afghanistan entered Kabul and took control of he major government institutions, while other Mujahideen and militia forces dominated various neighbourhoods. Finally, with the fall of the Communist government a transitional government started after the signing of a peace and power-sharing agreement know as the Peshawar Accord. Sibghatullah Mojadeddi (leader of the Afghan National Liberation Front and Islamic scholar) becomes a first president of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. Rabbani became president in June 1992 with the agreement that he would serve until December 1994. He refused to step down at that time, saying that political authority would disintegrate without a clear successor. That decision was strongly opposed by other Mujahideen leaders and the leader of the Islamist conservative Hizb-e-Islam Gulbuddin Mujahideen party. Hikmatyar and several allied factions fought unsuccessfully to dislodge Rabbani. Rabbani reached an agreement for Hikmatyar to serve as Prime Minister, if Hikmatyar would cease shelling Kabul. However he never formally took office as Prime Minister because of distrust with Rabbani and started a bombardment campaign, which marked a beginning of this new phase of war. This new conflict was between rural and urban dwellers. Unknown numbers of civilians were killed in the attacks of rockets and artillery . Over the next four years, efforts by the UN and neighbours to forge a lasting peace settlement failed, and the rival Mujahideen factions continued to sell each other’s territory, engage in arbitrary detentions, torture, rape and summary executions. Kabul became a key battleground, and the rest of the country was carved up into fiefdoms controlled by various warlords and smaller commanders. The bombardment of Kabul during the factional conflict of 1992-96 is frequently cited as one of the most serious human rights violations of the Afghan war. It devastated the capital and left a generation of residents traumatized. All of the major armed factions contending for control of the city were responsible for the indiscriminate use of a full range of heavy weapons, causing destruction and the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
In 1993-1994, Afghan Islamic clerics and students, mostly of rural, Paxton origin, formed the Taliban (new insurgent during the Mujahideen’s government) movement. Many were former Mujahideen who had become disillusioned with conflict among Mujahideen parties and had moved into Pakistan to study in Islamic seminaries (“madrassas”). The Taliban leadership comprised a twenty-two-member council (Shura), with Mullah Omar (Commander of Believers) at the head. Their leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, had been a fighter in Khalis’s Hezb-i-Islam party during the anti-Soviet war—Khalis’ party was generally considered moderate Islamist during the anti-Soviet war. However Khalis and his faction turned against the United States in the mid-1990s. The group emerged out of the chaos of this period and considered Rabbani government as weak, corrupt, and anti-Pashtun. The previous years of civil war between the Mujahideen groups created popular support for them as they are able to pitch stability. Then they dominated the southern city of Qandahar in November 1994 driving out the feuding commanders who had divided it among themselves. They closed schools for girls and prohibited women from working. They also decreed that women could not go out alone without a male escort. Later they captured other provinces, like Zabul and Uruzgan, with little fighting. By this time the group had attracted the support of Pakistan and benefitted from considerable military assistance. They took charge of Helmand in January 1995. By February 1995, the movement’s fighters were approaching Kabul. In September 1995, the Taliban captured Herat province, bordering Iran, and imprisoned its governor who later escaped and took refuge in Iran. In September 1996, Taliban victories near Kabul led to the withdrawal of Rabbani and Masoud to the Panjshir Valley (north of Kabul); After concurring Kabul on September 27, 1996 an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was announced.
The Insurgent Mujahideen in Democratic Republic of Afghanistan formed government in Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1992 and insurgent Taliban in Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, then again insurgent Northen Alliances of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan formed a government in a current Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This is a quite interesting cycle and very difficult to understand who is wrong and who is right, but the confrontation history of Afganistan definitely taught one lesson to world that harmony and peace can not be achieved in Afganistan without great power influence.
1. Tanner, S., Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban. 1 ed. 2009: Da Capo Press. 392.
2. Tomsen, P., The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts and Failure of Great Powers. 1 ed. 2010: Public Affairs. 912.
3. Background Paper Afghanistan: Political Parties and Insurgent Groups 1978-2001. 2014, Australian Government.
4. Susana SáCouto, B.J.K. 1992-1996: Islamic State of Afghanistan 2008; Available from: http://www.afghandocproject.org/index.php/english/23-1992to1996.
5. Katzman, K., Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy. 2014, Congressional Research Service. p. 88.
6. Marsden, P., Country of Origin (COI) Information Service Report on Afghanistan of the UK Border Agency. 2013, UK Border Agency. p. 68.