Soviets in Afghanistan Lesson 75
Background • Since 1945, Afghanistan had been firmly in the Soviet sphere of influence • Both the USA and USSR had aided a succession of Afghan governments • Because of its geographical proximity, USSR had a vested interest in the security of its southern neighbour • In 1973, the monarchy was overthrown by the king’s cousin, Mohammad Daoud Khan. • Daoud was supported by a faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) – Parcham, led by BabrakKarmal • The Parcham believed collaboration with other political forces was necessary to instigate change and promote democratic reforms that might possibly, but not inevitably, lead to socialism • The other faction of the PDPA was the Khalq, led by Hafizullah Amin. • The Khalq was composed of social classes lower than those of the Parcham. • Amin opposed collaboration with other political groupings and was determined to effect social change • Amin began to recruit support from the army
Daoud in Power • Daoud established a dictatorship • He began a program of economic development • He repressed all opposition, including the leftists that had supported his bid for power • Dauod attacked Islamic fundamentalists and moved his country closer to the pro-American shah of Iran • Out of fear, Members of the two factions PDPA attempted a reconciliation • By the spring of 1978, Daoud had begun to arrest members of the PDPA • Anti-government demonstrations followed • In response, Daoud arrested PDPA leaders on April 26 • Amin, leader of the Khalq faction, was able to alert his army supporters before his arrest, and on April 27-28, a coup d’etat forced Daoud from office
Result of the Coup D’etat • Members of the PDPA formed the government • Daoud, his family, and his top government officials were executed • In December 1978, the Soviet government signed a treaty of friendship with the new Afghan government, thus signaling its support of the PDPA
The New Regime • They began a program of radical reform aimed at dismantling Afghanistan’s still-feudal society • Internal squabbling within the PDPA hampered its efforts to institute reform • The chief stumbling block proved to be land reform: the urban roots of the PDPA made it ill-equipped to deal with rural issues.
Resistance to the new Regime • A resistance movement began within a month of the coup • The movement was backed by most of the country’s 320,000 mullahs (Muslim religious leaders) • The government also suffered from factional competition (between the Khalq and Parcham) • There was a rivalry between Amin and Nur Mohammad Taraki for leadership • Tarakicollaborated with the Soviets but was arrested and executed by Amin when his duplicity was discovered • Taraki’s death meant the death of the regime • Soviets distrusted Amin • feared the continuation of civil turmoil and the loss of their potential satellite
The Soviet Invasion • On Christmas Eve 1979, Soviet paratroopers of the 195th airborne Division descended on Kabul. • By December 27, some 5000 Red Army soldiers were in control of the Afghan capital • A revolutionary tribunal sentenced Amin to death, and on January 1, 1980, BabrakKarmal was installed as leader of the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan • By early 1980, Soviets had 1850 tanks and squadrons of MiG-21s, MiG-22, and SU-17 fighter bombers in Afghanistan • 90% of the countryside was in the hands of rebel troops (the Mujaheddin)
The Course of the War • The war lasted from 1980 – 88 • It was a guerrilla war • The war would create: • Tensions between east and west • A huge refugee problem for neighboring states such as Pakistan • By 1985 Soviet troop strength had risen to 120,000, but the mujaheddin refused to surrender • In May 1986 Karmal was replaced by Major General Mohammed Najibullah(director of the secret police and in league with the KGB) • Early in 1987, Najibullah announced a unilateral cease-fire, a gesture rejected by resistance leaders. • On April 14, 1988, the Geneva Accords on the war in Afghanistan were signed by the USA and the USSR. • The Accords came into effect on May 15, 1988 • Provided a timetable for Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989 and an end to the war • They also called for the voluntary return of 3.5million Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan
The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan • Some 15,000 Soviet soldiers lost their lives in the Afghan war • Although the Soviets did not disclose how much the war cost them, it is estimated they had spend $12 million per day. • Soviet citizens were not totally informed about activities in Afghanistan • Soviets were accused of practicing methods of warfare that were brutal and against the Geneva Convention.
Impact of the War on Afghanistan • Of 22,000 villages, an estimated 15,000 were destroyed and 5,000 made uninhabitable • Millions of farm animals were slaughtered, homes were reduced to rubble. • Irrigation systems were destroyed, and agricultural areas were riddled with hundreds of thousands of land mines.
Questions • Why did the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan in 1979? • Explain how the Afghan landscape and its people affected the Soviet attempt to control the region. • What were the results of the war in Afghanistan? • Evaluate the Soviet Union’s success in Afghanistan. • Compare and contrast the Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan with the American experience in Vietnam.