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Short History of Afganistan


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Modern Afghanistan, located at the crossroads of Central, West, and South Asia, incorporates partially or wholly the ancient regions of Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, and Drangiana?part of the Achaemenid empire (559?330 BCE) and more recently the empire of Alexander of Macedon and his Hellenic successors (c. 330 BCE?150 CE).


The territory was also a part of the Parthian, Yueh-chih/Tokharian, Saka, and Kushana polities and the Sasanid empire (c. 224/228?651 CE) and was incorporated into the lands conquered by the Arab Muslims about 700 CE. Portions of Afghanistan remained under the Abbasid caliphate into the ninth century and then under the temporary control of a series of polities: the Samanids, Kerts, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Mongols, and the Timurids and successor states.


In the sixteenth century, the Mughal empire of India and the Safavids (Persians) were political rivals with Afghanistan as a frontier until the emergence of the native Afghan Durrani dynasty. This dynasty began rule in 1747 and continued nominally under Pashtun Abdali ethnic-group rulers until the Communist coup in 1978. Afshar Persian sociopolitical influence began in the 1720s and remained into the nineteenth century, when Afghanistan was thrust into the geopolitical arena of Britain versus Russia (initially through the British East India Company) in the Great Game.


Three Anglo-Afghan wars (1838?1842, 1878?1879, and 1919) served to help establish Afghan independence in the twentieth century under a succession of rulers: Abdur Rahman Khan (1880?1901), Habibullah (1901?1919), King Amanullah (1919?1929), Muhammad Nadir Shah (1929?1933), and Muhammad Zahir Shah (1933?1973), with a republic being established by Muhammad Daoud (1973?1978).


The 1978 leftist coup led to a Soviet military presence until 1989, when the Afghan Islamic resistance movement (with U.S. and Pakistani aid) caused the Soviets to abandon the conflict and withdraw 100,000 troops. The mujahideen (Afghan guerrillas who fought against the Soviets) were composed of many ethnic Afghans and foreign warriors from throughout the Islamic world (particularly Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Pakistan), who began to fall out with one another, precipitating internecine rebellions and attacks on Kabul.


Beginning in 1990, a violent civil conflict raged. On one side was the Pashtun fundamentalist Taliban militia, with seventy thousand soldiers, politically led by Mullah Muhammad Omar since 1993, who had supported the international terrorist Osama bin Laden since 1995. On the other side was the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. The fragile Northern Alliance, whose fifteen thousand soldiers had been led by the charismatic Ahmad Shah Masood (an ethnic Tajik who assembled Tajik, Uzbek, and Shiʿite Muslim Hazara support), survived Masood's assassination in September 2001. The war precipitated a critical refugee problem?perhaps one-third of Afghan inhabitants had been displaced by the autumn of 2001? as the Taliban, who had once controlled 90 percent of the nation, faced a reinvigorated Northern Alliance aided by Western powers seeking to bring bin Laden to justice for the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.


The drought, a decimated sociopolitical infrastructure, the destruction of cultural patrimony (library and museum collections and archaeological treasures, such as the Buddha?s of Bamian), and health and human rights issues (particularly concerning women and minority groups) exacerbated the military and political scene.


There are so many reasons why Afganistan is a hotbed of unrest, above is just a short history for those who may be interested.

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Judging by the lack of response to your post Mary it would appear that our forum members are more concerned with the state of pavements in Warrington (556 and rising) or immigration (44861 and rising). Thank you for the interesting information I certainly have become more informed regarding Afghanistan.

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Mary, In my younger days I read everything James Michener wrote -- he liked to weave history into contemporary romantic stories. One of them, I can't remember the title was about Afghanistan -- narrated by a young man in the American embassy there, who knows a young college woman who moves there via marriage to an Afghan, leaves him for life with a nomad -- talks about using camel dung for cook

fires, wait -- I'll look up Michener and find the title:


Oh, yeah - it was CARAVANS. To the mountain fastness of Afghanistan comes Mark Miller, an American diplomat attached to the Embassy in Kabul. He is investigating the disappearance of Ellen Jasper, an independent young woman in search of the freedom offered by the wildest and weirdest land on earth.


It was a good page turner.

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