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The Taliban Takeover: Who Are the Afghans?

Modern History of Conflict

The Taliban Takeover:  Who Are the Afghans? - About Islam

1978 Soviet Invasion

Afghanistan modern wars started in April 1978 when the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in a bloody coup d’état against then-President Mohammed Daoud Khan in what is called the Saur Revolution.

The new government, which had little popular support, forged close ties with the Soviet Union, launched ruthless purges of all domestic opposition, and began extensive land and social reforms that were bitterly resented by the devoutly Muslim and largely anticommunist population.

Insurgencies arose against the government among both tribal and urban groups, and all of these—known collectively as the mujahideen.

In December 1979, Soviets invaded the country, sending in some 30,000 troops and toppling the short-lived presidency of Hafizullah Amin. The US started sending aid to these emergent groups as both Moscow and Washington tried to invest in the future of the country by backing particular groups to shape the future.

With the crucial backing of the US and especially the covert operations of the CIA, the Red Army found itself flummoxed by the guerrilla tactics of the mujahideen, so decided to withdraw in 1989.

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As a coalition, the mujahadeen seized power in 1992 in Kabul and declare an Islamic state.

After 1992

A transitional government, sponsored by various rebel factions, proclaimed an Islamic republic, but jubilation was short-lived as President Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the Islamic Society, refused to leave office in accordance with the power-sharing arrangement reached by the new government.

Other mujahideen groups, particularly the Islamic Party, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, surrounded Kabul and began to barrage the city with artillery and rockets. These attacks continued intermittently for several years as the countryside outside Kabul slipped into chaos.

Partly as a response, the Taliban (Pashto: “Students”), an Islamic group led by a former mujahideen commander, Mohammad Omar, emerged in the fall of 1994 and systematically seized control of the country, occupying Kabul in 1996.

Taliban controlled all but a small portion of northern Afghanistan, which was held by a loose coalition of mujahideen forces known as the Northern Alliance.

Taliban took its name from its membership, consisting largely of students trained in madrasahs (Islamic religious schools) that had been established for Afghan refugees in the 1980s in northern Pakistan.

The Taliban Takeover:  Who Are the Afghans? - About Islam

2001 War

In October 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power after they refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect of the September 11 attacks, whom the Taliban considered a “guest” and was allowed to operate his al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan.

Subsequently, US special operations forces, allied with Northern Alliance fighters, launched a series of military operations in Afghanistan that drove the Taliban from power by early December.

After a period of transitional interim government, a republic was established in 2004, but the new government struggled well into the 21st century to secure centralized authority over the country against a powerful Taliban insurgency.

The Taliban Takeover:  Who Are the Afghans? - About Islam

2021 Taliban Resurgence

On 14 April 2021, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had agreed to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Soon after the withdrawal of NATO troops started, the Taliban launched an offensive against the Afghan government, quickly advancing in front of collapsing Afghan government forces.

On August 15, 2021, as the Taliban once again controlled a vast majority of Afghan territory, the Taliban began capturing the capital city of Kabul, and many civilians, government officials and foreign diplomats were evacuated. President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan that day.

As of 16 August 2021, an unofficial Coordination Council led by senior statesmen was in the process of coordinating the transfer of the state institutions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Taliban.


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