Afghanistan; the land of conflicts
chapter oneMany sources have been used in writing this article, some of them historically significant. One of these sources is a long analytical article published by a political/labor collective in Iran. Its revolutionary historical and class analysis led me to use it to write this collection of essays. The discussion of recent events in Afghanistan has important historical aspects, so I thought it necessary to describe them briefly. This series of articles on Afghanistan is a political analysis and a historical study to describe how the context of continuing proxy wars handed the country into the hands of the Taliban.
As many media outlets referred the rise of the Taliban as an “occupation,” Afghanistan in reality was handed over to the Taliban with logistical, weaponry, and diplomatic equipment from “abroad” and an “internal”-engineered surrender. It has been witnessed by local figures in the last few weeks that Taliban governmental allies have banned them from resisting and forced them to accept the Taliban as the new authority.
Many examples can be cited: Farah province representative in parliament narrated how Afghanistan’s national security adviser personally reached out to the governor in the face of the Taliban and ordered him not to resist their attack ; another example, Ghazni province, which was handed over to the Taliban with the cooperation of the governor while has smiled to the cameras ; Until the then Minister of Defense stated “our hands were tied behind our backs.“ 
By handing over billions of dollars worth of US military equipment to the Taliban  (while two years earlier in a similar situation the US had bombed its military equipment while withdrawing from the Kobane border ), the US had demonstrated that it wanted a quicke break down of any armed resistance against the Taliban even if happened in some cities.
However, this coalition, both from abroad and internally, did not take place overnight. The conspiracy was the result of ten years of secret and behind-the-scenes cooperation and negotiations between the United States, China, Russia, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran with the Taliban, which became official at the Doha conference.
Why was Afghanistan handed over to the Taliban? Why did regional and international powers, which rarely can be agree on a common ground, join hands to give power Taliban in Afghanistan this time?
Before entering into this discussion, it is best to look at the history of modern state-building in Afghanistan.
State-nation building from the outside
The contemporary history of Afghanistan is characterized by a narrative of engineered nation building that was formulated from Afghanistan’s multi-ethnic climate by British and Russian colonialism. [6 –Three-quarters of Afghanistan’s population is ethnically connected to a population outside its “national” borders. ] Two centuries ago, the territory between the borders of the two empires of British Raj (British Empire in India) and Russia made Afghanistan the land of proxy conflicts between the world superpowers: the three British wars (1839, 1878 and 1919); Later, the Soviet-US conflict over Afghanistan (1979-1989) and finally the 2001 NATO invasion of Afghanistan, turning the country into a US-Russia, Pakistan-India, Iran-US-Saudi proxy conflict, and the settlement of other sub-conflicts. It has been the main issue of this “land” for a hundred years to establish a “national government” to join the global capitalism.
If Abdul Rahman Khan in the late 19th century, by suppressing ethnic and religious minorities to the point of genocide, changing the demographic-ethnic context, etc., took the important step of this project – national unity and the surrender of “rebellious” tribes – then the governments after him (Amanullah Khan and Zahir Shah) tried to complete the next steps of this project by modernizing the army, judiciary, education, government institutions, etc., but due to the weakness of the central government and the deep gap between the city and the village, [7 – This gap was not only between the city and the village but also between the villages themselves. Afghanistan’s mountainous geography separates many villages like isolated islands.] forced Landlords and tribes ruled over the king, and most of these reforms were either abolished by the revolt of tribes and peasants from the countryside to the capital (overthrow of Amanullah) or at best confined limited to the capital and several large cities (Zahir Shah period).
|1880 – 1973: —————
|Absolute monarch – Abdur Rahman Khan 1880-1901 Popular absolute monarch – Amir Habibullah Khan 1901-1919 Interregnum monarch – Nasrullah 1919 Constitutional monarch – Amanullah Khan 1919-1929 Reformist monarch – Mohammad Nadir Shah 1929-1933 Modern monarch – Mohammad Zahir Shah 1933-1973
|1973 – 1979:
|First Republic – Mohammad Daoud 1973 – 1978 Second Republic – Noor Mohammad Taraki & Hafizullah Amin 1978-1979
|1979 – 1989:
|Second Republic continued – Babrak Karmal 1979-1986 “Third” Republic – Najibullah 1986-1992
|1992 – 1996:
|Sebghatullah Mujaddidi 1992 Burhanuddin Rabbani 1992-1996
|1996 – 2001:
|Taliban – Mullah Omar 1996-2001
|2001 – 2004:
|Interim Administration – Hamid Karzai 2001-2002 Transitional Administration – Hamid Karzai 2002-2004
|2004 – 2021
|Reconstruction in Afghanistan – Hamid Karzai 2004-2009 Hamid Karzai re-election 2009-2014 Ashraf Ghani 2014-2019 Ashraf Ghani re-election 2019-8/2021
|constitutionally – Amrullah Saleh 8/2021-
The Land Reform Project and the People’s Democratic Party
In spite of Amanullah Khan’s efforts, Afghanistan remained a predominantly peasant and tribal society with a deep rift between urban and rural society until Daoud Khan implemented land reforms in 1975 to change this situation.
At that time, 2% of large landowners owned more than 70% of Afghanistan’s agricultural land. Daoud Khan‘s position was shaken as soon as the reform began because the mullahs and lords opposed it, and less than two years later, the People’s Democratic Party became the government through a coup. Probably no other event in recent Afghanistan history has had as much influence on the country as the coup of the People’s Democratic Party. Mohammadzai family’s two centuries of traditions of governance, leadership, and struggle were ended by this coup.
Daoud’s land reforms were accelerated (including confiscation of land beyond the ownership of houses and surplus land of religious institutions without compensation). By claiming that the policies were meant to destroy religion, the mullahs advised the peasants to resist. Against the capital, riots broke out once again in villages.
While the two periods of Daoud Khan and the People’s Democratic Party introduced important reforms, especially in the field of women (e.g., compulsory literacy for women, abolish forced marriage, etc. ), which these reforms were not implemented successfully in the villages. Some female teachers who went to the villages to educate student were killed at the instigation of the Mullahs.
There are narrations that many peasants refused to even accept the divided lands because of their mental and emotional allegiance to the Khans (prominent family). On the other hand, it was reported that many government officials who went to the villages to enforce the land reform law could not even speak the language of the villagers. Contrary to expectation, these actions resulted in a revolt against the government instead of garnering the peasants’ support.
The reasons for the failure of the land reform program and other similar reforms can be divided into internal and external factors. The first reason has to do with the class nature of the People’s Democratic Party. Despite its name, this party was actually not a mass party (of the workers’ or peasants’ type). The party was born from the heart of Kabul’s intellectual community, government officials, the military, and even some of Kabul’s weak business capitalists. Teachers were perhaps the most pro-party working class in the city, considering less than five percent of urban residents and less than two percent of rural residents were literate.
People’s Democratic Party founders were so close to the Afghan monarchy that they participated for many years in the executive body of the political system and the reforms of the Zahir Shah-Dawood Khan period. The party’s influence in Daud Khan’s government (due to Daud’s proximity to the Soviet Union) had grown several years ago. It is not an exaggeration to say that the coup was an extension of the policies of the Daud Khan era. In a sudden shift, the party came to power by a coup d’etat thanks to its influence in the military.
Just as Amanullah Khan’s “constitutionalism” and Zahir Shah’s “parliamentarism” and later Daud Khan’s “republicanism” (all members of the Mohammadzai royal family) were not the result of class struggle and pressure from below, so the People’s Democratic Party rise to power and plans was not due to the struggle and dynamism of Afghanistan society. [8 – Influence on the army and Soviet support were the two main reasons for the rise of the People’s Democratic Party.]
The Revolutionary Land Decree Of 1978The stated aim of the Land Decree of 1978 was “to abolish the feudalist and pre-feudalist relations of the country’s social and economic system; to free people of class distinctions and to increase production [Article1]. No family (defined as a nuclear family by Article 2) was to occupy more than 30 jeribs of first- grade land or its equivalent [Article 3]. Excess lands above this were not to be sold, leased or mortgaged [Article 4]. Government was to fix fair water-sharing [Article 5]. No payment was to be made for excess lands. Government was to pay for houses and other fixed improvements [Article 9]. Land was to be distributed to landless farmers free of charge [Article 17]. Recipients were to promise to develop the land and they were prohibited from inheriting additional land [Article 23]. This was to be either five jeribs of garden, six jeribs of two-season, irrigated land, eight jeribs of one-season, irrigated land, 12 jeribs of lower grade, one-season irrigated land, 25, 33 or 50 jeribs of rain-fed land depending upon quality [Article 12]. Land was to be allocated by public lottery [Article 16]. Fragmentation and over-subdivision was to be limited, and sub-divisions at time of inheritance could not fall below five jeribs of Grade 1 land [Article 20]. It was also compulsory to register land ownership; if a person gave more than 20 percent incorrect information on the registry, he would lose a portion of his holdings in proportion to the amount of incorrect information given and that land would fall to government for redistribution [Article 31].
Due to the lack of revolutionary power of the masses, the People’s Democratic Party took advantage of military coercion as a means of enacting policies requiring “mass support.” During the Cold War, similar coups d’etat states (instead of revolutions from below) often occurred under Soviet leadership in its underdeveloped satellite countries.
The two superpowers were trying to support their allies. The more leftist forces sought to transform the infrastructure of traditional society into modern, the more bloody the US coups were, with the support of the most backward and violent political forces leading to the backwardness of the country. Which would not have been possible without the elimination, purge and killing of independent revolutionaries.
In the second half of the 20th century, in most of the underdeveloped countries that joined the side of Soviet Union or the United States in the same way, the “government” as a bureaucratic apparatus was in charge of the policies of one of the two powers and decisions were independent of the will of society. And top-down changes had been imposed. Some with violence and massacre (US-backed Indonesia-Chile) and some with cultural coercion (Soviet-backed Afghanistan).
Shortly, in Afghanistan, the “army” replaced the “class” and the “coup” replaced the “revolution”, just as in US-backed countries, the “army” replaced the “elected government” and the “coup” replaced “democracy”. Also, all sorts of disputes, assassinations, and power-sharing settlements were due to the ruling bureaucratic mafia, not to class struggles or principles differences (I should mention the Democratic Party’s elimination and internal settlement).
Consequently, when a coalition of landlords and mullahs mobilized large peasant masses to revolt, the “popular” regime, but without “popular” support could only rely on the army to maintain its power. The result of this political adventure was a crime that ended in the name of communism against the people and the opposition (including thousands of critical leftist figures). By inviting the Soviets to occupy Afghanistan, the regime was simply extending the policy they had implemented with the coup two years earlier.
Despite the Soviet role in Afghanistan, the United States (in the form of Operation Cyclone) also played a critical role as an external factor. In the late 1970s (especially after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), there was spontaneous resistance to Russian troops; But in the context of the Cold War, the United States reinforced these scattered resistances under “Jihad” flag.
Billion’s dollars of American money and weapons were allocated to the Mujaheddin fundamentalist forces through official and unofficial channels (as well as most Saudi Arabia dollars). Within a few years, all nationalist, republican, constitutionalist and leftist forces were erased from the Afghanistan political scene, and instead the jihadist fundamentalists (Mujaheddin) grew like mushrooms inside and outside, equipping, arming, training, promoting and highlighting the jihadist ideas, they managed to get stuck the Soviet Union in Afghanistan land.
When the Mujaheddin seized power in an area, they set fire to the ownership documents of the distributed lands and returned them back to the lords. An examination of the statistics of landless peasants 9 (who were the biggest beneficiaries of land reform) from the 1970s to the 1990s shows a picture of how this policy was reversed:
|Percentage of landless peasants
The Mujaheddin’s methods of warfare were quoted by a Washington Post reporter (and before their whitewashing project was dubbed “Freedom Fighters” [10 – A description given by US President Ronald Reagan of the Afghan Mujaheddin in the 1980s.]) in 1979 as follows: The favorite tactic of the Islamic tribesmen is to torture victims by first cutting off their noses, ears and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another. .
Any sect of the Mujaheddin that fought more violently and brutally received greater financial and logistical support from the United States and its allies, including the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar sect, which for years had been known for its serial acid attacks on women.
US support for the Mujaheddin was widely attributed to the post-Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but it is now clear that this support began six months “before” the Soviet invasion  and [13 – In a 1998 interview, Brzezinski also described how the strategy of aiding jihadists opposed to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime was an excellent idea and It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap ].
In short, this ten-year war was a struggle to create a monstrous version of political Islam that had never been seen before. After the Soviet Union was defeated by its war expansionist policies and withdrew, it was time to test this newborn political Islam: the Mujaheddin.