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Author Topic: Afghanistan: Slicing Up a Traditional Buffer State: Regional Repercussions of th  (Read 2394 times)
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« on: January 14, 2009, 02:30:46 PM »

Here is a great article published on the eve of Massoud's take over of Kabul - hinting at the Tajik ethnic factor it represents and the reprecutions of that in the region...... it is not the whole article though....for that a subscription is needed....if anyone has this article in full or has access to it via their library/university/college - then make the effort to post the whole thing on here...

Afghanistan: Slicing Up a Traditional Buffer State: Regional Repercussions of the Mujahideen Takeover in Kabul

Author: Khalid Duran

Publication: The World & I Online

Issue Date: 12/1/1992

Size: 5,781 Words, 35,756 Characters

After the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan witnessed a war of liberation that led not only to the withdrawal of the Red Army but to the collapse of the Soviet empire as a whole. Nevertheless, the disappearance of the Soviet-installed regime, with the Soviet withdrawal in 1988, did not bring peace to this Muslim nation; on the contrary, it ushered in a process of ravaging dissolution and complex war that may well lead to the disappearance of the state of Afghanistan, analogous to the breaking asunder of Yugoslavia in the middle of a multidimensional civil war.

In April 1978, a successful coup by pro-Soviet army offices unleashed a multitude of centrifugal forces. Accompanied by much bloodshed and a total disruption of traditional values, this tragic event destroyed the delicate balance of power that had kept this nation of many nationalities together.

The fall of Kabul to an alliance of mujahideen from northern Afghanistan in April 1992 was brought about chiefly by General Dostam, a warlord of Afghanistan's small Uzbek minority. He commands an efficient tribal militia said to number ten thousand men.

In January 1992, Dostam and his elite troops were the central pillar of Dr. Sayid Mohammed Najibullah's communist regime. After switching sides, they became the pillar holding up the fractious mujahideen government, headed by the powerless mullah Sibghatullah Mojadidi. For the time being at least, Dostam eclipsed his partner in power, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the guerrilla leader idolized in some two dozen books and innumerable press reports.

Rival Cousins: Tajiks And Pashtuns

The fall of Kabul symbolizes, more than anything else, the ascendance of the Tajiks, long regarded as a minority under the heel of a majority of Pashtuns.

Both Tajiks and Pashtuns are branches of the Iranian family of nations, along with the Baluch in the south and the Kurds in the west. In their vast majority, all of these Iranian cousins are Sunni Muslims, which distinguishes them from the Shiite Persians. The Tajiks are said to have evolved as a separate nation, due to heavy racial mixing with Arabs who settled there after the Muslim invasions in the seventh and eighth centuries.

The Pashtuns, who speak a different language (though related to Persian), call themselves Afghans and have given their name to this country of many nationalities. Some of the non-Pashtuns in Afghanistan still prefer to call the country by its ancient name, Khorassan.

The Pashtuns inhabit mainly the southeastern regions, along the border with Pakistan. There are probably three times more Pashtuns in Pakistan, some 17-19 million out of nearly 120 million Pakistanis. Chauvinists claim that Pashtuns constitute 60 percent of Afghanistan's roughly fifteen million inhabitants; but the real percentage is no more than 34-35 percent, and Tajiks are just as many. They might even have a slight edge over the Pashtuns now. In the fifties, the demographic situation changed in favor of the Tajiks, and this is one reason why some of their radicals founded a liberation movement called Setam-E Melli (National Oppression), which stands for "struggle against the oppression of nationalities in Afghanistan by the dominant Pashtuns."

While there are a little more than five million Tajiks in Afghanistan, in Tajikistan there are a little less than five million. Another almost five million Tajiks live as minorities distributed over Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. In other words, today the chief country of Tajiks is Afghanistan, whereas ...


.......to themselves, Afghans have usually found ways to get along with one another, despite their ethnic and religious differences.

The problem is the time factor. How long will it take for this conclusion to dawn upon the opponents? At the moment, it looks like it is too late for any such compromise, like Afghanistan is in for an all-out war, as a testing ground for competing regional powers.


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