Understanding Afghanistan’s History


The country of Afghanistan and it’s flag.

On May 1st, 2021 the United States pulled out of the longest war in US history. The Afghanistan war left thousands dead and a lot of damage. Afghanistan has had a very turbulent history. The country has been on the news for over 20 years. War has claimed their country since 1978, and government problems have been bubbling since the Cold War. Terrorist groups have taken full control and their economy has crumbled.


The Soviet-Afghan war that began in 1979, was the starting point for all of the terror that now runs the county. The war with the Soviets was brutal, with well over one million Afghanistan deaths. The war was between anti-communist Islamic militia groups and the Afghan communist government. The USSR, who were communists at the time, aided in helping the Afghan government. Within a few days of invading, the Soviets had secured Kabul, the capital city. They entered the country, “under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978,” according to History.com. The Afghanistan rebels saw the Soviets as a “defilement of Islam” and declared a holy war. 


In December 1979, Americans decided that it was time to get involved with the war. US personnel trained anti-communist soldiers, supplied them with weapons, gear, and resources. In a couple of years, those very same people that the United States trained, joined major terrorist groups. Over one million Afghan civilians were killed by terrorist acts. The Soviets controlled the larger towns and cities throughout the war, bombing the rebels multiple times to try to make them surrender. By 1982, over four million citizens had fled Afghanistan to escape the violence. The war lasted nine years before the Soviet government decided it was time to leave and they withdrew their troops. The Soviets lost a lot of money from the war, which contributed to the fall of the Soviet empire. 


Once the Soviets withdrew their troops, the Afghani military extremists wanted the United States out of their country, they believed that the US should have no jurisdiction in their country.  Afghanistan turned against the US and created organizations that have grown to be known as the major terrorist groups– Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. The troops that the United States had trained to win the war used their training to commit horrific attacks.


When terrorists attacked the United States on September 11th, 2001, leaving nearly three thousand dead and over 25,000 injured, the US panicked, blaming al-Qaeda, an Afghanistan-based terrorist group, for the attacks. While none of the nineteen hijackers were Afghan nationals, Afghanistan was still blamed for a big part in it. President George W. Bush told the Afghanistan government, “…deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land.”


During wartime, it was very hard for Afghan civilians to survive and over one million civilians were killed. The Soviets had a major role in the war, they controlled the larger towns and cities, and they bombed the rebels multiple times to convince them to surrender. By 1982, over four million citizens had fled Afghanistan to escape the violence.


After a long two decades of fighting, the Taliban surged back to power and took over the Afghan government, causing U.S. troops to slowly pull out of the war. The British Broadcasting Corporation said, “the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.”


The Taliban is a major terrorist group made of Islamic religious people who seek “…international legitimacy and the acquiescence or non-resistance of the major powers,” according to the Middle East Institute. The Taliban began to take over the government on Saturday, May 1st, 2021, and they succeeded on Sunday, August 15 later that year. 


The capital of Kubal fell in a matter of hours. Civilians now fear for their lives every day. The country could once again become a training ground for terrorism. Women fear for their freedoms now, because when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan, they banned women from working and even stopped allowing girls to go to school. 


According to Brown University, 7,057 US service members died in post 9/11 operations, and 30,177 US service members and veterans had committed suicide post 9/11. The war took a major toll on the US and Afghanistan and now holds a deathly uncertain future. Afghanistan could face severe economic problems and they could have a humanitarian catastrophe on their hands.