Soviet war in Afghanistan
|Soviet war in Afghanistan|
|Part of the conflict in Afghanistan and the Cold War|
Mujahideen fighters in Kunar Province of Afghanistan in 1987
| Soviet Union
|Commanders and leaders|
| Leonid Brezhnev
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Qadir Dagarwal
| Ahmad Shah Massoud
Abdul Rahim Wardak
Fazal Haq Mujahid
Osama bin Laden
|Casualties and losses|
14,453 Killed (total)
75,000–90,000 killed, 75,000+ wounded (tentative estimate)
5 million refugees outside of Afghanistan
2 million refugees in Afghanistan
Around 100 dead
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a war fought between the forces of the Soviet Union, and Islamic tribes of Afghanistan who were against the Communist government set up by the Soviets. The war began in December 1979, and lasted until February 1989. About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed, and about 35,000 were wounded. About one million Afghans were killed. The anti-Communist Afghan forces had support from many countries, mainly the United States and Pakistan.
The war started when the Soviet Union sent its 40th Army to fight in Afghanistan. They began to reach Afghanistan from 25 December 1979. The fighting continued for about ten years. Then, from 15 May 1988, the Soviet troops started to leave Afghanistan. This continued until 2 February 1989. On 15 February 1989, the Soviet Union announced that all its troops had left Afghanistan.
Arabs moved into this area in 642, and they were Muslims. Almost all the people of Afghanistan also started to follow Islam after that. The country has many mountains and deserts that make movement difficult. The population is made up mainly of Pashtun people, along with Tajiks, Hazara, Aimak, Uzbeks, Turkmen people, and some other small groups.
The Soviet deployment[change]
In 1979 Hafizullah Amin was the ruler of Afghanistan. The Soviets were told by its KGB spies that Amin's rule was a threat to the part of Central Asia that was Soviet. They also suspected that Amin was not loyal to the Soviet Union. They found some information about Amin's attempt to be friendlier with Pakistan and China. The Soviets also suspected that Amin was behind the death of president Nur Muhammad Taraki. Finally, the Soviets decided to remove Amin. About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed and 35,000 were wounded. About 1 million Afghanistans were killed.
Assassination of Amin[change]
On 22 December 1979, Soviet advisors to the Army of Afghanistan took many steps. They stopped all telecommunication links in Kabul. No message could come inside the city, or go outside the city. Troops of the Soviet Air force also reached Kabul. Amin saw some dangers. He moved to the Presidential palace for better safety. The palace was named Tajbeg Palace.
On 27 December 1979, about 700 Soviet troops took over major government and military buildings at Kabul. The troops wore uniforms similar to the army of Afghanistan. At 7:00 pm, the Soviet troops destroyed Kabul's communication. This stopped all communication among Afghan troops. At 7:15 pm, Soviet troops entered Tajbeg Palace. By morning of 28 December, the first part of the military action was over. Amin and his two sons were killed in the fighting by this time. The Soviets announced freedom of Afghanistan from the rule of President Amin. They also said that all the Soviet soldiers were there to fulfill their duty as stated in the "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborliness of 1978."
Rise of Babrak Karmal[change]
An announcement came from the Kabul radio station about the killing of Hafizullah Amin. The Pro-Soviet Afghan Revolutionary Central Committee (ARCC) took the responsibility for this killing. Then, the ARCC chose Babrak Karmal as the head of government of Afghanistan. He asked the Soviet Union for military assistance.
Moscow's decision for the Occupation[change]
The Communist government of Afghanistan asked the Soviet Union many times to send troops. The Soviet Union said this was not an "invasion", because the troops were asked to come by the Communist Government of Afghanistan. But the United States said this was just an excuse by the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan.
The Soviet soldiers did many things in Afghanistan. But they could never control all parts of Afghanistan. Several Afghan groups continued to attack and fight with the Soviet troops.
People in most countries around the world did not like what the Soviet Union was doing in Afghanistan. But they liked the way the Afghan people were fighting them. Some reactions were very serious. US President Jimmy Carter said that the Soviet action was “"the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War.”
By mid-1980s, many groups in Afghanistan had organized themselves. They fought the Soviet troops. These groups received help from many countries like United States, United Kingdom, China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Pakistan thought that the Soviet war in Afghanistan was also a threat to it. It also started its active support to Afghans fighting the Soviet troops.
The Soviet war in Afghanistan seemed like a war that would never end. The Soviet Union looked very bad in the eyes of the world for trying to control this country. Inside the Soviet Union also, most people did not support this war. Finally, after ten years with no end in sight, the Soviets decided to get out of Afghanistan.
After the war[change]
The Soviet war in Afghanistan badly affected the rule of Communist Party. Many thought that the war was against Islam. This created strong feelings among the Muslim population of Central Asian Soviet Republics. The Soviet army was really in very low spirits or "morale" because they were unable to control the people and were treated only as invaders everywhere they went. Andrei Sakharov openly said the action of Soviet Army in Afghanistan was wrong.
Over 15,000 Soviet troops got killed in Afghanistan from 1979 until 1989. In the war, the Soviet Army also lost hundreds of aircraft, and billions worth of other military machines. Around a million Afghan men, women and children died in the war.
Even after the Soviet Army left Afghanistan, civil war continued in Afghanistan. For about three years, the Communist government of Najibullah couldn't defend itself from the mujaheddin forces opposing it. Many groups had arisen within the government itself, and some of them supported the mujaheddin forces. In March 1992, General Abdul Rashid Dostam and his Uzbek militia stopped supporting the Najibullah’s government. Soon, mujaheddin forces won Kabul and started to rule most parts of Afghanistan.
During this war lasting for about ten years, Afghanistan's economy suffered badly. Grain production came down to 3.5% per year between 1978 and 1990. The Soviets also tried to bring commercial and industrial activities under state control. This also had a bad affect on the economy. With the break-up of the Soviet Union in many countries, Afghanistan’s traditional trade also suffered.
At the beginning, many people and countries had praised the USA for supporting groups fighting the Soviet forces. But after the September 11 attacks, people started to question the US policy of supporting and giving money to such groups.
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- Mark N. Katz (March 9, 2011). "Middle East Policy Council | Lessons of the Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan". Mepc.org. http://www.mepc.org/articles-commentary/commentary/lessons-soviet-withdrawal-afghanistan. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
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- Russia's War in Afghanistan – David C. Isby, David Isby – Google Libros. Books.google.es. 1986-06-15. ISBN 9780850456912. http://books.google.com/?id=k86jifnA3oYC&pg=PA5&dq=osprey+russia+afghanistan#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- Antonio Giustozzi (2000). War, politics and society in Afghanistan, 1978–1992. Hurst. ISBN 1-85065-396-8. http://books.google.com/?id=Hz5NzJtg48kC&pg=PA115&dq=soviet+afghan+war+safronov#v=onepage&q=soviet%20afghan%20war%20safronov&f=false. "A tentative estimate for total mujahideen losses in 1980-02 may be in the 150–180,000 range, with maybe half of them killed."
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