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Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade


Historical Outline of Afghanistan

Cycles of Empire

2000 BCE:

Indo-Aryan tribes invade Indian subcontinent through Khyber Pass of contemporary Afghanistan. The region's remote, rugged mountains (especially lateral Hindu Kush range) will become a barrier between the Aryan cultures of India and Persia to the south and the Turkic and Mongol/Hunnish peoples of Central Asia to the north. Khyber Pass into India will serve as an invasion and migration route for many peoples, leading to a multi-ethnic society. Afghanistan is peopled by both Aryans (Pashtuns, Heratis, Tajiks--the last two closely related to Persians) and Turkic peoples (Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kyrgyz).

600 BCE:

Persian Achaemenid Empire brings first centralized rule to region, but fails to pacify tribes in interior.

520 BCE:

Prophet Zoroaster proclaims a new religion in city of Bactria (now Balkh). To become official religion of Persian Empire.

332 BCE:

Alexander the Great passes through, incorporates region into his empire, establishes Kandahar as local capital; faces constant revolts. Invades India through Khyber Pass but is driven back.

275 BCE:

Greek-led Seleucid Empire, ruled from Syria by Alexander's successors, loses grip on region. Local Bactrian Empire emerges in north, still under Greek ruling class. South comes under control of Maurya Empire, ruled from Pataliputra (now Patna) in India, which introduces Buddhism under the reign of Asoka.

130 BCE:

New Aryan invaders from north establish Kushan (Kouei-Chouang) Empire. More indigenous Gandharan Empire (local successor state to Maurya rulers) south of the Hindu Kush brought under Kushan rule, and expansion continues south to Arabian Sea. Caravan routes with China and India bring prosperity, unique Greek-Buddhist culture thrives.

100 CE:

Emperor Kanishka extends Kushan rule into north India. Imperial capital established at Peshawar.


White Huns invade from north, destroy Kushan rule and Buddhist culture. The Huns (Hiung-nu) establish local dynasty, invade Gupta Empire of India through Khyber Pass.


Weakened by over-reach and rebellions, Hunnish rule collapses. Local Sahi dynasty (claiming lineage back to Kushan rulers) establishes power around Kabul. Persian Sassanid Empire reasserts claim to region but still fails to subdue tribal resistance. Persians call region province of Khorasan.

The Islamic Era


Arabs (having already conquered Persia) invade from west, introduce Islam. Khorasan incorporated into empire of the Caliphate, ruled from 661 by the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus.


Khorasan is seat of revolt by local Arab administrators who recognize a rival line from the Prophet Mohammed and claim to the Caliphate. Drawing from Persians and other subjugated peoples, revolt sweeps west and within three years topples the Umayyads, establishing the Abbasid dynasty and moving the capital to Baghdad.


Arabs lose control, leave Persian Samanid dynasty to rule Khorasan (with nominal loyalty to Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad).


Samanid embrace of Shi'ite Islam, considered heretical by the Caliphate, is a source of local strife. Samanids lose control of Khorasan, local Turkic-led Ghaznavid dynasty takes power, restores Sunni Islam.


Mahmud of Ghazni extends Ghaznavid rule north to Caspian Sea, launches first Muslim raids into India, conquers Lahore.


Ghaznavids succeeded by Ghorids (Pashtuns from central mountains), who vigorously extend empire.


Muhammed of Ghor invades India through Khyber Pass, imposes Muslim rule, establishes Sultanate of Delhi.


Ghorid lands incorporated into vast Uzbek-led Khwarazmian Empire, ruled from Herat with nominal loyalty to Caliphate of Baghdad (despite Khwarazmian embrace of Shia). Empire stretches from the Indus to the Euphrates, oversees brief renaissance of Persian culture--but draws region into rivalry with Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan to the east.

The Mongol Irruption


Genghis Khan invades, razes Herat, wrecks centralized rule, picks up tribes to help destroy Persian (Khwarazmian) and Arab (Abbasid) empires. (Remnant Mongol population becomes Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan's central mountains.)


Mongols lose control following death of Genghis. Il-Khan Empire, established in Persia by his successors, fails to impose effective rule.


Ghorid dynasty re-consolidates rule after chaos of Mongol invasion.


Timur Leng (Uzbek-Mongol chieftain and alleged descendant of Genghis--but now ostensibly embracing Islam) passes through from north, wrecks centralized rule, picks up tribes to help destroy Sultanate of Delhi.


Uzbek-Mongol Timurid Empire, based in Samarkand to the north, fails to maintain effective rule after the founder's death.


Babar (Uzbek-Mongol chieftain and descendant of Timur) passes through from Ferghana Valley to the north, establishes temporary capital at Kabul, picks up tribes to help destroy reconstituted Sultanate of Delhi for last time. Considered final "barbarian" invasion of India, although Uzbek-Mongols have by now thoroughly accepted Islam and Persian culture.


Afghanistan incorporated into Mogul Empire, established in India under Babar. Moguls face prolonged resistance in interior mountains.


Resurgent Persian Empire under Safavid dynasty reasserts control in the west. Afghan national consciousness begins to emerge, especially among Pashtuns, as country is divided by rival empires.

The Emergence of Nationalism


Pashtun "warrior poet" Khushal Khan unites several tribes in national uprising against Moguls in east.


Pashtun leader Mir Wais Khan revolts against Persians in west; establishes independent state at Kandahar under his Hotaki Ghilzai tribe.


Mir Mahmud, Wais' son, drives Persia from Herat, then invades Persia itself, occupies Isfahan.


Persia drives back Mahmud, re-takes Kandahar.


Afghans rise under Pashtun tribal leader Ahmad Shah Abdali, liberate Kandahar, drive Moguls back into India. Victorious Ahmad Shah establishes Kingdom of Afghanistan and Durrani dynasty. At its height, kingdom stretches from Delhi in the east to the Arabian Sea in the south. New capital established at Kabul.

The Great Game


"Great Game" begins as Russian empire to the north in Turkestan (which had conquered local fuedal states) and British empire to the south in India (which had gained effective control over the Moguls) both plot to annex Afghanistan, or use it as a buffer against the rival.


First Anglo-Afghan War. Amir Dost Muhammed unites tribes to drive back British invasion, declares himself king. British puppet ruler Shah Shuja overthrown. Dost Muhammed's rule conferred by Loya Jirga, or tribal summit.


Second Anglo-Afghan War. This time Britain succeeds in imposing conditions for peace; Afghanistan forced to accept British troop presence and cede control over foreign affairs.


Britain imposes Durand Treaty, setting line between Afghanistan and British India (contemporary border with Pakistan). Millions of Pashtuns, the dominant group in Afghanistan's Durrani dynasty, are left outside the country's borders. Within Afghanistan, Pashtuns are encouraged by the government to colonize the predominantly Tajik and Uzbek lands in the north.


Amir Habibullah mysteriously assassinated. His son Amanullah becomes king, reasserts Afghanistan's independence, recognizes Soviet Union, launches Third Anglo-Afghan War.


King Amanullah throws out the British, re-establishes Afghanistan's full independence--but faces tribal revolts following "modernization efforts" (centralized administrative control).


Amanullah overthrown; Tajik rebel Bacha-e Saqao takes power.


Pashtun revolt dislodges Bacha, puts Nadir Khan on throne, restoring Durrani rule. Nadir Khan reverses modernization program, cuts peace deals with tribal leaders.


Nadir Khan assassinated by radical student. His son Zahir Shah, 19, takes throne.


Zahir Shah declares Afghanistan neutral in World War II; kingdom retreats into isolation.

Groping Towards Modernity


Zahir Shah's cousin Muhammed Daoud Khan becomes prime minister and power behind throne; builds army, roads, dams, imposes limited modernization.


Cold War resurrects "Great Game." US launches South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to block Soviet ambitions in Asia. SEATO invoked to justify US military intervention in Vietnam. Pakistan is key SEATO member. Afghanistan, again caught between hostile powers, pressured to militarize.


Daoud asks US for military aid. US refuses, needing to appease SEATO ally Pakistan, which is at odds with Afghanistan over claims to Pashtun territory. Daoud turns to USSR for military aid.


Crisis with Pakistan over Pashtun territory; war threatens.


Zahir Shah ousts bellicose Daoud. Under "New Democracy" program, king grants limited powers to a parliament.


Marxist and Islamic fundamentalist opposition to monarchy emerge.


Daoud Khan ousts Zahir Shah in coup d'etat with support of Communist Party (officially the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan-PDPA). Monarchy abolished, parliament dissolved, Republic of Afghanistan proclaimed.


New constitution imposes modernization, recognizes women's rights. Daoud puts down Islamic fundamentalist uprising, purges Communists from his government, distances himself from USSR and seeks peaceful relations with Pakistan.

The Contemporary Crisis


Daoud and his family killed in bloody Communist-backed coup. PDPA boss Nur Muhammed Tariki becomes president, signs treaty of "friendship and cooperation" with USSR; mass arrests and torture of opponents. Fundamentalists launch Mujahedeen guerilla movement.


Army massacres peasants in countryside. US ambassador killed; PDPA intrigues between Tariki's Khalq (Masses) faction and rival Parcham (Banner) tendency shake Kabul regime.Tariki and his successor Hafizullah Amin both killed, and the more Moscow-loyal Parcham leaderBabrak Karmal installed in power. Year ends with massive Soviet military intervention to put down Mujahedeen and prop up Karmal regime. Covert CIA aid to Mujahedeen begins--through Pakistan's secret police.


Soviets soon mired in counterinsurgency quagmire. Aerial bombardment of countryside, crops burned, villages destroyed, thousands perish in massacres, millions flee country for refugee camps in Pakistan.


CIA provides $2 billion in military aid to Mujahedeen, including $750 million in Congressionally-approved aid. Mujahedeen also turn to the heroin trade to fund their war. Afghanistan-Pakistan "Golden Crescent" becomes top global heroin source as Mujahedeen warlords establish vast opium plantations in their zones of control. Massive guns-for-opium trade through Khyber Pass, with the crop processed in heroin labs at Peshawar, the northern Pakistan city where Mujahedeen resupply is coordinated. Pakistan secret police agency Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) establishes smuggling network to deliver heroin to global markets. CIA continues to work with ISID to support Mujahedeen.


President Reagan's National Security Decision Directive 166 calls for efforts to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan "by all means available."


Following a bid by CIA Director William Casey before Congress, US provides military advisors and hundreds of Stinger missiles to Mujahedeen. CIA also approves Mujahedeen guerilla attacks into Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Soviets respond by imposing KGB-trained secret police chief Najibullah as president of Afghanistan. Soviet troop presence peaks at 115,000.


Mujahedeen warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar sends troops across border into Tajikistan to launch first attacks on Soviet territory.


UN-mediated accords call for Soviet withdrawal, neutral Afghan state, repatriation of refugees, but Mujahedeen pledge to continue resistance against Moscow's "puppet government."


Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan, having suffered some 15,000 troops KIA. Nearly 2 million Afghans had been killed and 6 million displaced since 1979. Mujahedeen fight on against Najibullah regime.


Najibullah flees as Mujahedeen take Kabul. Islamic state declared; Islamic Jihad Council organized by victorious warlords, elects Tajik Mujahedeen leader Burhanuddin Rabbani president. Secular democrats, now all in exile, charge betrayal and predict further disaster.


Rabbani government in new war against rebel Pashtuns and dissident Mujahedeen factions under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, as well as Russian-backed Uzbek militias under Abdul Dostum in the north. Kabul is nearly reduced to rubble. Ultra-fundamentalist Taliban militia is born in Pakistan, recruiting from the refugee camps and pledging to restore order. Taliban wins base of support, mostly among Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan. ISID backs Taliban, with some covert CIA support--because Russia backs their Uzbek and Tajik enemies in the north.


Taliban take Kabul. Najibullah seized from UN compound where he had been hiding and publicly executed. Harsh fundamentalist rule imposed. Rabbani joins Dostum and Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Masoud in anti-Taliban resistance now known as Northern Alliance.


February earthquake leaves over 4,000 dead in northeast. August US cruise missile strikes on alleged terrorist training camps in retaliation for destruction of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. September crisis with Iran as Tehran sends thousands of troops to Afghan border, threatens invasion to halt Taliban's "ethnic cleansing" of Shiite religious minority (mostly Hazaras).


UN Security Council Resolution 1267 imposes sanctions on Taliban for their support of terrorism.


Taliban gain ground against Northern Alliance, winning control of some 80% of Afghanistan. Only Pakistan and Saudi Arabia recognize it as legitimate government. Rabbani contnues to hold UN seat. However, UN applauds Taliban opium-eradication campaign, pledges assistance.


In March, giant Kushan-era stone Buddhas at Bamiyan destroyed as "idols" by Taliban artillery, despite global protest. Part of Taliban campaign to eradicate all traces of pre-Islamic culture.

On September 9, Northern Alliance military leader Ahmad Shah Masoud killed by suicide bombers posing as journalists. Two days later, terrorists attack World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands. President George Bush declares new War on Terrorism; hundreds of thousands more flee Afghanistan anticipating air strikes. US switches sides, sending arms and Special Forces troops to back up Northern Alliance. Russia opens its military bases in Tajikistan to US and British troops in preparation for assault on Taliban. Exiled Afghan dissidents once again protest that the US is backing fundamentalist warlords.

Post-9-11 events chronicled at World War 4 Report

See also Afghanistan Online

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