“Each Fed governor likes to live on the edge, further out on a limb where she can see more, then hope against hope that limb will not break until she leaves office.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Alexander the Great conquest of Afghanistan after defeating the Persians. Alexander the Great arrived in the area of Afghanistan in 330 BCE after defeating Darius III of Persia a year earlier at the Battle of Gaugamela. His army faced very strong resistance in the Afghan tribal areas. Although his expedition through Afghanistan was brief, Alexander left behind a Hellenic cultural influence that lasted several centuries. Several great cities were built in the region named "Alexandria," including: Alexandria-of-the-Arians (modern-day Herat); Alexandria-on-the-Tarnak (near Kandahar); Alexandria-ad-Caucasum (near Begram, at Bordj-i-Abdullah); and finally, Alexandria-Eschate (near Kojend), in the north. After Alexander's death, his loosely connected empire was divided. Seleucus, a Macedonian officer during Alexander's campaign, declared himself ruler of his own Seleucid Empire, which included Afghanistan.
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom, founded when Diodotus I, the satrap of Bactria (and probably the surrounding provinces) seceded from the Seleucid Empire around 250 BCE. The Greco-Bactria Kingdom continued until c. 130 BCE, when Eucratides I's son, King Heliocles I, was defeated and driven out of Bactria by the Yuezhi tribes from the east. The Yuezhi now had complete occupation of Bactria. It is thought that Eucratides' dynasty continued to rule in Kabul and Alexandria of the Caucasus until 70 BCE when King Hermaeus was also defeated by the Yuezhi.
The Kushan Empire expanded out of Bactria (Central Asia) into the northwest of the subcontinent under the leadership of their first emperor, Kujula Kadphises, about the middle of the 1st century CE. They came from an Indo-European language speaking Central Asian tribe called the Yuezhi, a branch of which was known as the Kushans. By the time of his grandson, Kanishka the Great, the empire spread to encompass much of Afghanistan, and then the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketa and Sarnath near Varanasi (Benares). Emperor Kanishka was a great patron of Buddhism; however, as Kushans expanded southward, the deities of their later coinage came to reflect its new Hindu majority.
After the Kushan Empire's rule was ended by Sassanids aka Empire of Iranians - the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. From circa 370 towards the end of the reign of Shapur II, the Sassanids lost the control of Bactria to invaders from the north. These were the Kidarites, the Hephthalites, the Alchon Huns, and the Nezaks: The four Huna tribes to rule Afghanistan.
From the Middle Ages to around 1750 the eastern part of Afghanistan was recognized as being a part of India while its western parts parts were included in Khorasan. Two of the four main capitals of Khorasan (Balkh and Herat) are now located in Afghanistan. The countries of Kandahar, Ghazni and Kabul formed the frontier region between Khorasan and the Indus. This land, inhabited by the Afghan tribes (i.e. ancestors of Pashtuns), was called Afghanistan, which loosely covered a wide area between the Hindu Kush and the Indus River, principally around the Sulaiman Mountains. The earliest record of the name "Afghan" ("Abgân") being mentioned is by Shapur I of the Sassanid Empire during the 3rd century CE which is later recorded in the form of "Avagānā" by the Vedic astronomer Varāha Mihira in his 6th century CE Brihat-samhita. Ancestors of many of today's Turkic-speaking Afghans settled in the Hindu Kush area and began to assimilate much of the culture and language of the Pashtun tribes already present there. Among these were the Khalaj people which are known today as Ghilzai.
The Mongols invaded Afghanistan in 1221 having defeated the Khwarazmian armies. The Mongols invasion had long-term consequences with many parts of Afghanistan never recovering from the devastation. The towns and villages suffered much more than the nomads who were able to avoid attack. The destruction of irrigation systems maintained by the sedentary people led to the shift of the weight of the country towards the hills. The city of Balkh was destroyed and even 100 years later Ibn Battuta described it as a city still in ruins. While the Mongols were pursuing the forces of Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu they besieged the city of Bamyan. In the course of the siege a defender's arrow killed Genghis Khan's grandson Mutukan. The Mongols razed the city and massacred its inhabitants in revenge, with its former site known as the City of Screams. Herat, located in a fertile valley, was destroyed as well but was rebuilt under the local Kart dynasty. After the Mongol Empire splintered, Herat eventually became part of the Ilkhanate while Balkh and the strip of land from Kabul through Ghazni to Kandahar went to the Chagatai Khanate. The Afghan tribal areas south of the Hindu Kush were usually either allied with the Khalji dynasty of northern India or independent.
In 1504, Babur, a descendant of Timur, arrived from present-day Uzbekistan and moved to the city of Kabul. He began exploring new territories in the region, with Kabul serving as his military headquarters. Instead of looking towards the powerful Safavids towards the Persian west, Babur was more focused on the Indian subcontinent. In 1526, he left with his army to capture the seat of the Delhi Sultanate, which at that point was possessed by the Afghan Lodi dynasty of India. After defeating Ibrahim Lodi and his army, Babur turned (Old) Delhi into the capital of his newly established Mughal Empire. From the 16th century to the 17th century CE, Afghanistan was divided into three major areas. The north was ruled by the Khanate of Bukhara, the west was under the rule of the Iranian Shia Safavids, and the eastern section was under the Sunni Mughals of northern India, who under Akbar established in Kabul one of the original twelve subahs (imperial top-level provinces), bordering Lahore, Multan and Kashmir (added to Kabul in 1596, later split-off) and short-lived Balkh Subah and Badakhshan Subah (only 1646–47). The Kandahar region in the south served as a buffer zone between the Mughals (who shortly established a Qandahar subah 1638–1648) and Persia's Safavids, with the native Afghans often switching support from one side to the other. Babur explored a number of cities in the region before his campaign into India. In the city of Kandahar, his personal epigraphy can be found in the Chilzina rock mountain. Like in the rest of the territories that used to make part of the Indian Mughal Empire, Afghanistan holds tombs, palaces, and forts built by the Mughals.
The Emir Dost Mohammed Khan (1793–1863) gained control in Kabul in 1826 and founded (c. 1837) the Barakzai dynasty. Rivalry between the expanding British and Russian Empires in what became known as "The Great Game" significantly influenced Afghanistan during the 19th century. British concern over Russian advances in Central Asia and over Russia's growing influence in West Asia and in Persia in particular culminated in two Anglo-Afghan wars and in the Siege of Herat (1837–1838), in which the Persians, trying to retake Afghanistan and throw out the British, sent armies into the country and fought the British mostly around and in the city of Herat. The first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842) resulted in the destruction of a British army; causing great panic throughout British India and the dispatch of a second British invasion army. The Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880) resulted from the refusal by Emir Shir Ali (reigned 1863 to 1866 and from 1868 to 1879) to accept a British mission in Kabul. In the wake of this conflict Shir Ali's nephew, Emir Abdur Rahman came to the Afghan throne. During his reign (1880–1901), the British and Russians officially established the boundaries of what would become modern Afghanistan. The British retained effective control over Kabul's foreign affairs. Abdur Rahman's reforms of the army, legal system and structure of government gave Afghanistan a degree of unity and stability which it had not before known. This, however, came at the cost of strong centralisation, of harsh punishments for crime and corruption, and of a certain degree of international isolation. Habibullah Khan, Abdur Rahman's son, came to the throne in 1901 and kept Afghanistan neutral during World War I, despite German encouragement of anti-British feelings and of Afghan rebellion along the borders of British India. His policy of neutrality was not universally popular within the country; however, and Habibullah was assassinated in 1919, possibly by family members opposed to British influence. His third son, Amanullah (r. 1919–1929), regained control of Afghanistan's foreign policy after launching the Third Anglo-Afghan War (May to August 1919) with an attack on India. During the ensuing conflict the war-weary British relinquished their control over Afghan foreign affairs by signing the Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 1919. In commemoration of this event Afghans celebrate 19 August as their Independence Day.
King Amanullah Khan moved to end his country's traditional isolation in the years following the Third Anglo-Afghan war. After quelling the Khost rebellion in 1925, he established diplomatic relations with most major countries and, following a 1927 tour of Europe and Turkey (during which he noted the modernization and secularization advanced by Atatürk), introduced several reforms intended to modernize Afghanistan. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, Amanullah Khan's Foreign Minister and father-in-law — and an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's first constitution (declared through a Loya Jirga), which made elementary education compulsory. Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional Muslim veil for women and the opening of a number of co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders, which led to the revolt of the Shinwari in November 1928, marking the beginning of the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929). Although the Shinwari revolt was quelled, a concurrent Saqqawist uprising in the north eventually managed to depose Amanullah, leading to Habibullāh Kalakāni taking control of Kabul.
Prince Mohammed Nadir Khan, cousin of Amanullah Khan, in turn defeated, and executed Habibullah Kalakani in October and November 1929 respectively. He was soon declared King Nadir Khan. He began consolidating power and regenerating the country. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favour of a more gradual approach to modernisation. In 1933, however, he was assassinated in a revenge killing by a student from Kabul. Mohammad Zahir Shah, Nadir Khan's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. The Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1947 saw Zahir Shah's reign being challenged by Zadran, Safi and Mangal tribesmen led by Mazrak Zadran and Salemai among others. Until 1946 Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle Sardar Mohammad Hashim Khan, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Khan. In 1946, another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Sardar Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. In 1953, he was replaced as Prime Minister by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud looked for a closer relationship with the Soviet Union and a more distant one towards Pakistan. However, disputes with Pakistan led to an economic crisis and he was asked to resign in 1963. From 1963 until 1973, Zahir Shah took a more active role. In 1964, King Zahir Shah promulgated a liberal constitution providing for a bicameral legislature to which the king appointed one-third of the deputies. The people elected another third, and the remainder were selected indirectly by provincial assemblies. Although Zahir's "experiment in democracy" produced few lasting reforms, it permitted the growth of parties on both the left and the right. This included the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), which had close ideological ties to the Soviet Union. In 1967, the PDPA split into two major rival factions: the Khalq (Masses) was headed by Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin who were supported by elements within the military, and the Parcham (Banner) led by Babrak Karmal.
Amid charges of corruption and malfeasance against the royal family and poor economic conditions created by the severe 1971–72 drought, former Prime Minister Mohammad Sardar Daoud Khan seized power in a non-violent coup on July 17, 1973, while Zahir Shah was receiving treatment for eye problems and therapy for lumbago in Italy. Daoud abolished the monarchy, abrogated the 1964 constitution, and declared Afghanistan a republic with himself as its first President and Prime Minister. His attempts to carry out badly needed economic and social reforms met with little success, and the new constitution promulgated in February 1977 failed to quell chronic political instability. As disillusionment set in, in 1978 a prominent member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), Mir Akbar Khyber (or "Kaibar"), was killed by the government. The leaders of PDPA apparently feared that Daoud was planning to exterminate them all, especially since most of them were arrested by the government shortly after. Nonetheless, Hafizullah Amin and a number of military wing officers of the PDPA's Khalq faction managed to remain at large and organize a military coup.
On 28 April 1978, the PDPA, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Amin Taha overthrew the government of Mohammad Daoud, who was assassinated along with all his family members in a bloody military coup. The coup became known as the Saur Revolution. On 1 May, Taraki became head of state, head of government and General Secretary of the PDPA. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992. In March 1979, Hafizullah Amin took over as prime minister, retaining the position of field marshal and becoming vice-president of the Supreme Defence Council. Taraki remained General Secretary, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and in control of the Army. On 14 September, Amin overthrew Taraki, who was killed. Amin stated that "the Afghans recognize only crude force." Afghanistan expert Amin Saikal writes: "As his powers grew, so apparently did his craving for personal dictatorship ... and his vision of the revolutionary process based on terror." Once in power, the PDPA implemented a Marxist–Leninist agenda. It moved to replace religious and traditional laws with secular and Marxist–Leninist ones. Men were obliged to cut their beards, women could not wear a chador, and mosques were placed off limits. The PDPA made a number of reforms on women's rights, banning forced marriages and giving state recognition of women's right to vote. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous New Kabul Times editorial (May 28, 1978) which declared: "Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country ... Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention." The PDPA also carried out socialist land reforms and moved to promote state atheism. They also prohibited usury. The PDPA invited the Soviet Union to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure (predominantly its exploration and mining of rare minerals and natural gas). The USSR also sent contractors to build roads, hospitals and schools and to drill water wells; they also trained and equipped the Afghan army. Upon the PDPA's ascension to power, and the establishment of the DRA, the Soviet Union promised monetary aid amounting to at least $1.262 billion. Ethnolinguistic groups in Afghanistan in 1982 At the same time, the PDPA imprisoned, tortured or murdered thousands of members of the traditional elite, the religious establishment, and the intelligentsia. The government launched a campaign of violent repression, killing some 10,000 to 27,000 people and imprisoning 14,000 to 20,000 more, mostly at Pul-e-Charkhi prison. In December 1978 the PDPA leadership signed an agreement with the Soviet Union which would allow military support for the PDPA in Afghanistan if needed. The majority of people in the cities including Kabul either welcomed or were ambivalent to these policies. However, the Marxist–Leninist and secular nature of the government as well as its heavy dependence on the Soviet Union made it unpopular with a majority of the Afghan population. Repressions plunged large parts of the country, especially the rural areas, into open revolt against the new Marxist–Leninist government. By spring 1979 unrests had reached 24 out of 28 Afghan provinces including major urban areas. Over half of the Afghan army would either desert or join the insurrection. Most of the government's new policies clashed directly with the traditional Afghan understanding of Islam, making religion one of the only forces capable of unifying the tribally and ethnically divided population against the unpopular new government, and ushering in the advent of Islamist participation in Afghan politics.
To bolster the Parcham faction, the Soviet Union decided to intervene on December 27, 1979, when the Red Army invaded its southern neighbor. Over 100,000 Soviet troops took part in the invasion, which was backed by another 100,000 Afghan military men and supporters of the Parcham faction. In the meantime, Hafizullah Amin was killed and replaced by Babrak Karmal. In response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Carter administration and Reagan administration in the U.S. began arming the Afghan mujahideen, thanks in large part to the efforts of Charlie Wilson and CIA officer Gust Avrakotos. Early reports estimated that $6–20 billion had been spent by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia but more recent reports state that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia provided as much as up to $40 billion in cash and weapons, which included over two thousand FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, for building up Islamic groups against the Soviet Union. The U.S. handled most of its support through Pakistan's ISI. Scholars such as W. Michael Reisman, Charles Norchi and Mohammed Kakar, believe that the Afghans were victims of genocide by the Soviet Union. Soviet forces and their proxies killed between 562,000 and 2 million Afghans and Russian soldiers also engaged in abductions and rapes of Afghan women. About 6 million fled as Afghan refugees to Pakistan and Iran, and from there over 38,000 made it to the United States and many more to the European Union. The Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan brought with them verifiable stories of murder, collective rape, torture and depopulation of civilians by the Soviet forces. Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Their withdrawal from Afghanistan was seen as an ideological victory in the United States, which had backed some Mujahideen factions through three U.S. presidential administrations to counter Soviet influence in the vicinity of the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), headed by Hamid Gul at the time, was interested in a trans-national Islamic revolution which would cover Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. For this purpose the ISI masterminded an attack on Jalalabad in March 1989, for the Mujahideen to establish their own government in Afghanistan, but this failed in three months. With the crumbling of the Najibullah-regime early in 1992, Afghanistan fell into further disarray and civil war. A U.N.-supported attempt to have the mujahideen parties and armies form a coalition government shattered. Mujahideen did not abide by the mutual pledges and Ahmad Shah Masood forces because of his proximity to Kabul captured the capital before Mujahideen Govt was established. So the elected prime minister and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, started war on his president and Massod force entrenched in Kabul. This ignited civil war, because the other mujahideen parties wouldn't settle for Hekmatyar ruling alone or sharing actual power with him. Within weeks, the still frail unity of the other mujahideen forces also evaporated, and six militias were fighting each other in and around Kabul.
Backed by Saudi money and Pakistani intelligence and access to military hardware, the Taliban took Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They imposed strict sharie theocracy on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political. Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum, two former enemies, created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban, who were preparing offensives against the remaining areas under the control of Massoud and Dostum. The United Front included beside the dominantly Tajik forces of Massoud and the Uzbek forces of Dostum, Hazara factions and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq, Haji Abdul Qadir, Qari Baba or diplomat Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai. From the Taliban conquest in 1996 until November 2001 the United Front controlled roughly 30% of Afghanistan's population in provinces such as Badakhshan, Kapisa, Takhar and parts of Parwan, Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Samangan, Kunduz, Ghōr and Bamyan.
On 9 September 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers inside Afghanistan. Two days later about 3,000 people became victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States, when Afghan-based Al-Qaeda suicide bombers hijacked planes and flew them into four targets in the Northeastern United States. Then US President George W. Bush accused Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the faces behind the attacks. When the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden to US authorities and to disband al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in which teams of American and British special forces worked with commanders of the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban. At the same time the US-led forces were bombing Taliban and al-Qaeda targets everywhere inside Afghanistan with cruise missiles. These actions led to the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif in the north followed by all the other cities, as the Taliban and al-Qaeda crossed over the porous Durand Line border into Pakistan. In December 2001, after the Taliban government was toppled and the new Afghan government under Hamid Karzai was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security to the Afghan people.
While the Taliban began regrouping inside Pakistan, the rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan kicked off in 2002 (see also War in Afghanistan (2001–present)). The Afghan nation was able to build democratic structures over the years by the creation of an emergency loya jirga to set up the modern Afghan government, and some progress was made in key areas such as governance, economy, health, education, transport, and agriculture. NATO is training the Afghan armed forces as well its national police. ISAF and Afghan troops led many offensives against the Taliban but failed to fully defeat them. By 2009, a Taliban-led shadow government began to form in many parts of the country complete with their own version of mediation court.
The Kabul government, a collection of anti-Taliban fundamentalists, Tajik and Uzbek warlords, and pro-American Pashtun nationals, turned into a kleptocratic elite unable to meet the needs of the majority of Afghans. Foreign Policy magazine, back in 2014, noted that Afghanistan under the US/NATO occupation, had become the world’s most sophisticated kleptocracy.
American withdrawal. Chaotic scenes in Afghanistan. Media converges attacking pullout, beating the drum of eternal war (i.e. eternal honey pot). Afghanistan has witnessed the swift victory of the Taliban insurgency, and the complete disintegration of the United States-backed Afghan government. The evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul – which US authorities are rebranding as reducing its functions to a “core presence” – is an indication of the staggering defeat of US forces and its Afghan proxies. Highly reminiscent of the chaotic evacuation of US embassy personnel from Saigon in 1975, the fall of Kabul, and the disintegration of the Afghan security forces, occurred much faster than predicted by US intelligence. Taliban victory the product of US-NATO intervention Morrison has an obligation to increase Afghan refugee intake The ease with which the American-supported Kabul regime was defeated, and the ousting of Ashraf Ghani, points to the failure of US state-building and the fragile nature of the US occupation.
Government: Here is the Pro-NSA Surveillance Argument (10-Jun-2013) theblaze.com article, purged from their website but retained by the Wayback Archive.
Guardian UK: The NSA Files index of pages and sub-sections on the Guardian newspaper website relating to Snowden revelations and NSA (US) / GCHQ (UK) signals intelligence. Released and collated around November 2013.
NSA Scandal: Is Palantir's Prism Powering PRISM? (7-Jun-2013) @ ibtimes.com International Business Times website. Whoever the fuck they are. IBT Media based in NYC, owns Newsweek through a sister company (same shareholders). Dodgy money-laundering and other typical loose money play.
The Rise of the Biosecurity State - with Whitney Webb on Rokfin (20-Sept-2021) @ ROKFIN VIDEO on Whitney Webb's Rokfin channel.