Sunday, 30 October 2011

Afghanistan in the 1970's

I thought this old documentary though blatantly biased and short would be of interest to some who have been appalled by Afghanistan's bloody recent history. Its from 1973 and aside from an outdated pronunciation of the Pashtun Tribes is an interesting look into a time when Afghanistan was relatively speaking at peace* and was slowly building its way to modernity.

Prince Daoud the establisher of Afghanistan's Republican days came to power in a coup aided the Afghan Army Officer Corps and by the Pro-Soviet Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) specifically the Parcham faction. And whilst officially improving Soviet-Afghan relations Daoud was not above getting funding from other quarters. Afghanistan had since the establishment of the USSR been considered like Eastern Europe to be client state of Moscow by the West, since it shared a direct land border with the USSR trying to force the issue wasn't really an option if the West wished the Cold War to remain Cold. However Daoud soon lost interest in his Parcham friends and isolated them from government, he also allowed himself to be courted by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan perhaps the most Anti Soviet nations in the Middle East at the time. Indicating to Moscow that he wished to break from the Soviet Union and embrace other hostile powers.

Happily for the Soviet Union the issue resolved itself in April 78 when Daoud tried to mobilise the Army to destroy the PDPA and secure the home front. This backfired for two reasons, 1) the PDPA's other faction Khalq lead by future Presidents Taraki and Amin had been hard at work recruiting military units to there cause as they'd been expecting a crackdown for sometime.
2) Even the Military Officers and units who hadn't been recruited by Khalq were as the documentary makes clear trained in the Soviet Union meaning they either where sympathetic to the PDPA or thought a close alliance to the USSR must be maintained so rebelled and by the 27th of April stormed the Presidential palace and killed him.

That event became known as the Saur Revolution and heralded the rise of the PDPA and the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Afghanistan. A year later Islamist groups threatened by the DRA's modernisation drives (the first time Soviet forces engaged the "Mujihadeen" once in retaliation for a riot in Herat that involved the butchering of two hundred civilian technical advisers and was sparked by the governments announcement that females were to be taught in schools too) would cause so much trouble for the DRA that the Soviet Union believed the only way to prevent its total disintegration and threaten its own Asian Soviet Socialist Republics was to intervene directly in December of 79.

The rest as they say is history.

Video download link

* Afghanistan has never really enjoyed complete peace, due to both the broken up terrain lack of roads and vibrant and diverse ethnic framework ensured even during the times free of major military campaigns there were always banditry, and clashes with remote tribes.

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