In December 1979, the Soviet Union launched an invasion on Afghanistan or, more precisely, on the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan. The Soviet intervention was mostly to support the communist lead government of Afghanistan. The Soviet operation was not the start of a war, per se. But in response to the civil war that was ravaging the country for the last 18 months — ever since the communist government took control of the country — a war that the Afghan government was not winning. However, this intervention will bring international “attention” to this poor land-locked country and will have some long-lasting effects on world diplomacy.
Big Brother is Watching (and supplying arms)
With the Soviets in Afghanistan, it was not long before the United States got interested. They just wanted to do whatever they can do to make life miserable for the Soviets. Pakistan supported the Mujahideen rebel groups ever since their inception, and now the United States was supporting Pakistan. This was a beautiful arrangement for the United States because, with all the arms they provided, the Mujahideen groups were giving real tough time to the Soviets. Although the Soviets were largely successful with their campaigns, in a war like this, the longer the war drags, the more they would get defeated, and defeated they were. In 1985 they gave up and pulled the army back from Afghanistan. This war — apparently a Jihad against atheist and progressive Soviets-also attracted a bunch of fighters/financiers/warlords from all over the world, one such individual was Osama Bin Laden.
The Soviets left, but the war did not. The Soviets were merely aiding the Afghan government if you remember, and now the government had to fight without their direct support. They backed the government with material for a while. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aid dried up, and soon the Mujahideen groups took control of most of Afghanistan by 1992. This might seem like the end of the war, for better or for worse. However, as they were deciding on how to share the power among themselves, there were disagreements. Most groups under the leadership of Rabbani and Massoud agreed to share power, but Hekmatyar and his Pakistan backed militia wanted Kabul for themselves, and a new war commence. By 1996 a new group of militia called Taliban, also backed by Pakistan, emerged as the strongest force. Soon they conquered Kabul. Massoud and his supporters, often called the Northern Alliance, were facing tough odds.
What About the War?
On September 9, 2001, Massoud was assassinated by Taliban fighters disguised as journalists. With their leader gone, defeat was imminent for Northern Alliance. Two days later — 7000 miles away, in a world completely different from the barren hills of Afghanistan — something happened. As tragic and terrible as war. Soon a new military will join the fight, with drones and Kevlar vests and aircraft careers.
As for war, war will continue.