As with most US-led invasions of Sovereign land, there are many questions that surround the purpose of such operations. In the case of the Operation Cyclone proxy-war against the Soviet Union on foreign soil, very little was achieved for the host nation of Afghanistan. Some considerations may be:
- The pro-Soviet PDPA Party of Afghanistan remained in power for a further three years following the withdrawal of US forces. Therefore the ‘fight against Communism’ failed, as it had done previously in Vietnam & Cuba.
- The USA’s funding strengthened Islamic Militant guerrillas in the region, arming the Mujahadeen with tens of thousands of munitions & artillery. The argument for ‘freedom of a nation’ would prove to be irrelevant.
- The post-war foreign aid into Afghanistan was funneled into the pockets of tribal warlords, creating factions within the Islamic Militant agenda, which would lead to the dissolution of the Mujahadeen and the formation of the Taliban as the majority influence over Afghanistan & it’s citizens.
- The dark years of fundamentalist oppression that would soon follow is a direct result of the USA’s financial & military support for a militia that was fighting for strict Islamic Sharia Law.
Following the USSR’s retreat, a sense of unrest was dictating the public psych, and created internalized civil struggles between the remaining supporters of the PDPA, the new heroes of the militant Mujahadeen, and an increasingly wary following of emergent militant groups who believed the Mujahadeen’s rise was a dangerous, oppressive path.
It is around this time that the seeds of the Taliban were germinated. The cloud of homelessness, poverty & death lingered over the nation, and the misappropriation of continued foreign funding allowed new leaders with fresh agendas to charm potential followers.
Unlike western political party allegiances (such as those who say “I’m a Democrat/Republican/Libertarian forever”), the culture of Afghanistan is for a more practical outcome. Basically, your typical Afghan citizen will follow the next leader with the most to offer – be it money, personal safety, religious conservatism or an agenda for a bright future. Defection is so common, that it simply isn’t spoken about, and it is this cycle of support that creates new civil majority groups in the nation.
To Western observers, this is where our understanding typically ends, and the confusion commences, quite simply because such political defection is unheard of in our culture, and difficult to fathom. However, it follows as such:
The PDPA had overwhelming support from it’s citizens, until the cashed up & well armed Mujahadeen strengthened. Previous PDPA supporters became Mujahadeen guerrillas. Fearing the new ‘hard line’ Islamic code of conduct, new factions formed against the Mujahadeen, made up of many former proxy-war soldiers, and banded together as what we refer to as The Taliban.
Or, to keep it simple, the PDPA is the Mujahadeen, and the Mujahadeen is the Taliban. Only the leaders of the movement remain unchanged, while the followers are fluid.
The Taliban’s rise to power in the early 1990’s was supported by Pakistan’s InterServices Intelligence Agency (the ISI), who only several years prior were intrinsically tied into the CIA’s arms shipments to Islamic militants. Such was Pakistan’s open support for the rise of the Taliban that Pakistan, along with the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only nations to give the Taliban diplomatic recognition.
Following on from the Mujahadeen’s theological agenda, the Taliban also adopted strict Sharia Law policy. With an almost limitless supply of land-based-conflict artillery & armaments (thanks to the CIA’s Operation Cyclone & post-war US foreign aid), it became easy to convince Afghanistan’s citizens that the future lay with them. The Taliban were the nation’s new heros.
Furthermore, their initial policy on the eradication of opium poppy farms (the pre-cursor to heroin, and the source of over 70% of the world’s supply chain) was applauded by the USA – in fact the eradication was used as a PR exercise by American politicians to show the world how effective their prior support for Islamic Militants had been. As recently as May, 2001, only four months prior to 911, US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a $40million aid package to the Taliban with the intention to subsidize farmers whose livelihoods had been destroyed by poppy eradication and drought conditions. The funding of course never reached the farmers, but was used to further strengthen the Islamic Militia+
Now holding the official seat of government (from 1994-2001), the relationship between the Taliban and the USA was never called into question prior to 911, and the arrangement was so cosy that, despite not being recognized internationally, US political and industry senior staffers hosted Taliban delegates in an all-expenses-paid meeting in Texas (the Bush family’s state of abode) to discuss a major engineering project+
The Taliban were entirely accepted by the United States that they occupied offices in Queens, New York between 1996 & 2001. Mysteriously, in the months leading up to the 911 attacks, the Taliban were requested to close their New York premises, with State Department Spokesperson Richard Boucher citing ‘United Nations sanctions’. It was quite odd that the UN envoy, when approached by the New York Times, had no such knowledge of the eviction.
These shifting agendas of the US Government are nonsensical. Some closing considerations:
- The USA have in effect created an Islamic Militia in Afghanistan since 1980, which was supported for 21 years by American taxpayer dollars.
- The USA have allowed Islamic Militants to operate a premises for the five years in New York leading up to 911.
- The USA have negotiated with Islamic Militants to fight the War on Drugs
- The USA have negotiated with Islamic Militants for significant engineering projects in the region.
Ultimately, the Taliban are a creation of the United States of America.