Afghanistan: what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name of this country? Of course, such as: the war; terrorism; all kinds of human disasters; a set of common answers of average citizens. Few people know about beautiful buildings, which are decorated with tiles and mosaics. Not many of you may know about masterpieces of woven carpets and rugs, their poetry and song traditions. So what is the reason of such notorious fame? Michel Foucault, a famous French philosopher and a social theorist, once said that, “In order to know how to act now and how to create the future, one should learn how to understand his own past.” Thus, briefly speaking, the historical retrospective might throw the light on it.
The official name of the country is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It is located on the crossroad of the most important European trade routes. They have been very important for the country from the first day of its existence. The situation of Afghanistan in the heart of the Far East, Middle East, Asia and Europe has been and remains strategic for the country. As a result, such position has provoked a century-long battle for the territory being a corner stone in relationships between the Russian and British Empires. The conflict has lasted for a century.
Europe and China have been connected during the middle century with the Silk Road. Its route went through the whole Asia, connecting the southern and central parts of this region. The Silk Rode helped to preserve a multinational communication in Afghanistan. As a result, this caused the nascence of different ethnic groups. Among them there such as: Persians, Kirghizs, Uzbeks, Chahar Aimaks, Turkmens, Baluchs, Tajiks, Nuristanis, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Arabs and Pashais. Despite such a variety of tribes, the majority of Afghan population is Muslims. Most of pious are the followers of Sunni, “an Orthodox” branch of Islam. It has become the foundation of such notion as “Badal”. Badal means “the right”. Every enemy, according to the rights of Pashtuns, can organize vengeance. The consequences are never taken into account. The main thing is the right to do this and an idea supporting it. Badal can be organized for one individual or the whole group. According to the beliefs, the most important thing for Afghans is honor. As soon as it is restored, the honor is restored as well. That is the reason, why an act of murder or adultery must be washed away by blood of an offender. The act of ultimate killing is often made in order to save or restore the honor of the whole family or even the nation.
There is no limitation in time and space for using Badal. In addition, as long as there are the survived, still the obligation of Badal remains. It should be kept in mind that it is not an occasional killing, as, for example, in India, Far East or Middle East. Often, its roots are seen deeply in the centuries. There is a Pushtun saying, which demonstrates the idea of Badal perfectly, “I have taken my revenge after a hundred of years; and people say I have hurried.” This proverb is the evidence of Damocles’ Sword, which is still hanging above the nation’s head. The reason for punishment from people has been caused by numerous wars desorbing the nation. Religion has helped to find the ways out; so did everyone have a tool to preserve or save his own honor, the honor of the family and even of the nation? This is an immortal and immemorial part of being.
The Great Game is a name of the conflict between Russian and British Empires, which started in the 19th century, dragged Afghanistan too. The British Empire had an aim to set the total control in Afghanistan. The action was aimed at achieving this purpose causing the first Anglo-Afghan War. It had lasted almost four years from 1839 to 1842. In 1878-80, the imperial leaders made one more attempt and succeeded. Almost all Afghanistan’s territory was controlled by Britain. Moreover, the right to manage its external affairs also belonged to the British Empire.
Britain has put all its forces to develop the weapons and then send with an annual subsidy to Afghanistan. This way, it has created a wall to keep Russia away. The subsidy was strictly for its authorities. To one of them, Abdur Rahman Khan (1881-1901) belonged. He was also known as ‘Iron Amir’ and a ‘Unificator of Afghanistan’. Under his rule, there was a powerful army created. He fixed a border in 1893 with India, being at that time British. The border was called as a Durand line. However, he did not manage to unite the territory of tribes. Almost half of it today belongs to Pakistan.
Thus, such an unstable political situation has entailed a failure of the population census. Nowadays, there is no exact suggestion concerning the number of people living there. During such periods, a lot of people died every day; so no one could hold a census. Also, the reason of such uncertainty is the fact that there were many people who migrated or even escaped. However, they returned after the periods of stabilization.
Afghanistan has remained in the midst of violence since the coup in 1978. Clashes between the majorities of current participants of the conflict began after a fall of the Soviet regime. In 1994, there was a movement called “Taliban”. It was controlling the capital Kabul and 80-90% of the whole territory. Taliban received its financial resources from an opium trade, which still is one of main sources of the financial supply in the country. Nearly, 92% of the world’s heroin comes from the poppies grown in Afghanistan. Its government called itself as the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. However, it was not recognized by the UN. Having established its power by 2/3 of the country, Taliban began to impose the Sharia law, i.e. the rules of Islamic morality. Women were forbidden to work and study; all appliances were destroyed. Men had to wear a beard and a turban. Only religious education was allowed. In the foreign policy, Taliban announced Russia, the USA, Iran, and India as the main enemies of all Afghan people. This declaration became the reason for the isolation of Afghanistan from the top world’s countries. The Northern Alliance, in other words the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, also was standing against this. Taliban had 45-50 thousand fighters; among them eight thousand volunteers came from Pakistan and the Arab countries. It was supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Hopes for a peaceful settlement arose when Taliban and the Northern Alliance agreed on a ceasefire and power-sharing. However, then the parties resorted to recrimination; and in April and May, there were ongoing battles. Taliban refused to stop fighting despite the pressure from the European community. Afterwards it even launched a brutal attack by capturing a large territory. The Northern Alliance held a counter-attack and quickly regained the control of its lost territories. During the two weeks of fighting, about 1.2 thousand soldiers of Taliban, 600 of the Northern Alliance’s fighters and two thousands of civilians were killed. More than 100 thousand people left their homes. The events associated with the U.S. counterterrorist operation in 2001 have led to the removal of Taliban from power. This has stopped the bloodshed and started a new period in the history of Afghanistan.
In the post-Taliban period, the liberal regime of Hamid Karzai proclaimed the equality of men and women, which was enshrined in the new Constitution of 2004. These measures contributed to further steps towards the new future of the state. Currently, girls are studying at schools and other educational institutions; women are working in various sectors of the economy. They also participate in the political life and create some social organizations. However, the equality of rights still remains as a declaration. Under the influence of the Orthodox clergy, women continue to be at the degraded status in the family and are forced to live in traditional family relations. Thus, the practical advancement of this proclamation should mark the further steps for its improvement.
A war in a Muslin country is an extremely complicated task. Moreover, all ten years of war were the main way of existence for making the living to many Afghans. They were paid for murdering and killing. By getting this “bloody salary”, they bought food and fed their families. The war was a kind of the “stable place for working” for most of them. Thus, under such circumstances, the average life expectancy among birth males is 44.79 years and – 45.25 years among females. To compare, in the European countries, the life expectancy is, in general, higher. In 2009, it was 79.7 years: 82.6 years and 76.7 years for women and men accordingly. The gap of more than 30 years is striking. The reasons of such a low rate are obvious: constant conflicts and the shortage of a proper medical treatment as well as good medical care. There is only one doctor per 5,000 people. These factors, consequently, have led to a high level of deaths.
Besides, the literacy rate of the entire population is extremely low. One in five women can read. One in two men is able read. In order to change the situation for better, the United States has started to establish educational learning centers in Afghanistan. The aim of these centers is to create a platform for learning English, to create different libraries, to provide an Internet access for educational reasons and to organize some counseling services. According to the calculations, around 4,000 of citizens every month can participate in the activities in these centers per every location. The mandatory literacy courses are also launched for the military forces and national police. In addition to this, different programs were proposed launched in 2011 in order to help all children of Afghanistan to learn from a preschool and onward. Therefore, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs has established six offices in Afghanistan. The aim of offices is to teach and explain to common citizens about the fair elections and political campaigns. Other group is currently instructing locals on the Internet and provides the media courses to give the freedom of expression. This is done in order to contribute to and facilitate the current situation.
Restoring Afghanistan’s independence has laid the foundation for reforms aimed at eliminating the remnants of the most archaic forms of pre-capitalistic relations. It has accelerated the development of the country to the path of a bourgeois evolution. The reforms were at the emerging “new landlord” and national commercial bourgeoisie, using a proper legitimate system to fix the private ownership of land, transform it from a state-feudal into private property and to make as an object of sale. The reforms included the protection of national merchants, merging the national capital with a joint stock; the promotion of the industrial development; the purchase of equipment, machinery and other things, including technology; the introduction of universal conscription. Also, they involved such as: the creation of social justice; secularization of education and many other aspects of social and family life and re-certification of clergy. The reforms have claimed the religious equality of the population professing Islam and other religions, fighting against corruption, bribery, and smuggling. An active role was played by some frontier tribes in this. Being equally important, during those years, there was the development of trade and economic ties with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan as the conclusion of the first country’s agreement with great powers, called as the Soviet-Afghan Treaty of 1921.
In 1919, after the Anglo-Afghan War, King Amanullah decided to provide a modernization according to the European model. However, this attempt was stopped by ultra-conservatives. The political situation in the world changed rapidly. In 1947, India became free from the British Empire. The Cold War gained a momentum from its beginning. As a result, both states: the USA and the USSR turned their approach towards Afghanistan. This change caused the war between mujahedeen, supported by the United States and Afghan government, which was Soviet oriented. Millions of people died in this war. It had lasted till 1990 and finished with the fall of Taliban government. Despite this fact, in 2001, a new war started, which had been actual till now. The Security Council of United Nations has created the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in order to encourage security.
The time and continuous wars have created an image of the most dangerous country in the world for Afghanistan. A lot of Afghan people are looking for refugees and asylum. The country is not able to provide anything sustainable for them receiving about 90% from aid. So the picture is the following: the world’s community tries to do its best in renovating everything destroyed by the war. Meanwhile, terrorism is involving the whole nation into Taliban and the circle of murders, attacks of terrorists and assassinations. The data provided by the United Nations claim that during 2011 and 2012 there were around 80% causalities against civilians done.
Osama bin Laden was one of those, who took the whole responsibility for the attacks that happened in September 11, 2001. The United States demanded to extradite him. But they received a refusal from Mullah Mohammed Omar, a leader of Taliban. Less than in few weeks, around 12,000 bombs fell on the country. There were also the horrible battles organized by the Afghan Northern Alliance forces. They received the support from the Coalition Special Forces. The Northern Alliance went into destroying and emptying Kabul on 13 November. Few days later, Colin Powell, the Secretary of the United States, claimed that Al-Qaeda was destroyed in Afghanistan. Moreover, he added that Afghanistan had lost its role as a terrorist number one in the world.
In March 2005, Al-Qaeda published one interesting document Al Qaeda’s Strategy to the Year 2020. There was an explanation of the main strategy routes and aims. The first was to start an immense attack in order to provoke the West World with the United States being in charge. The way to achieve this was definite in two words “civilian casualties”. The second was to incite local inhabitants against the U.S. forces. The following included the statement to involve the USA into a long-term war. The movement of Al-Qaeda must be turned into ideology. The principles must be operating. The fourth point was about behavior. There is no strict control and command while being in other countries whether this is the USA or an ally to the USA. The results were obvious after the events in Madrid in 2004 and then in London in 2005. The last statement in this document was that the American economy should have collapsed by the year 2020. The grounds for this are the engagement of the USA into different economic systems and the presence in a wide range of states. As a result, the political instability will be caused mainly by the USA and entail all allied countries. The above mentioned options were formulated according to all sorrow countries suffering from. It clearly reflected all the hardships Afghanistan had coped with.
The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America is the book written by Peter Dale Scott, the PD in 2008. There is an abstract, which contains the explanation of the political and economical position of the United States of America at that period of time. According to the author’s observations, no doubt that America has gone through a crisis, both political and economical. As a result, this has caused tension and misunderstanding in the military-financial structures being mainly based on the civilian economy and stable society. However, the idea described in the book expressed a far different understanding of the events and their consequences comparing to what has been said to the public.
There is a clearly definite gap between understanding the security and society. As a result, the point was moved to the influence on the world’s opinions. Thus, the CIA has increased the requirements to the policy of the national security. The private powers tried to take control of the security and be those that will decide when to push. This approach has caused the establishment of another unofficial government. One of the famous names for it is a “shadow government”, or, in other words, a parallel government. The new plan has beencreated. Its aim was to organize a totally new government of continuity, which would have a new secret strategy, its own parallel institutions and, what was the most important, is that everything had to be kept in secret. No one should have an access, only by permission. As a result, the ideas proclaimed by the newly formed institution were firstly used and implemented after 9/11. The government of continuity had all possibilities to make some changes in the defense strategies of the USA. However, often made decisions are not able to provide an adequate level of security and the terrorist attacks have turned into the small Pearl Harbor in a new version.
The lasting conflicts in Afghanistan have resulted into the default of its technological development. The state is in the list among the poorest states in the world. However, Afghanistan has rich natural resources with the main ones being natural gas and oil. Afghanistan is rich in the resources, which are not still minded. There are such as: salt, iron ore, coal, sulfur, gold, copper, silver, emeralds, zinc and uranium. There is the meaning that all these treasures in overall cost more than 1 trillion dollars. Despite having such enormous economical opportunities, there is only one telephone for every 333 people; and every 8 people only have one radio. There are no Internet hosts. For 85 people, there is only one television. Only one from 500 can afford to have a car; as a result, only ? of roads is paver.
The most difficult problems in Afghanistan, which have remained till nowadays, are its political and economic instability, the increased production and trafficking of drugs, the political violence and ongoing struggle for the division of spheres of influence on the north and west. Being equally difficult, this is an issue of reunification of the country, including many ethnic and religious differences, aggravated by years of war and insecurity in Afghanistan.
The Environmental Studies’ Professor from theVermontUniversity, who works at Rubenstein SchoolofEnvironmentandNatural Resources, SaleemH. Alihas stated that the current situation demands a fundamental change in the political, economic and military policies of the West. One of the solutions is to propose dividing the ideology between Afghanistan and other Islamic counties, which want to follow strict rules of Sharia. The radical proponents can immigrate to the regions with these regulations, while its opponents would take part in the referendum and move to other regions. The only way to stop Islamite is to take the weapon for the propaganda from them and use the advantage of the referendum. The peace treaty promotes the eradication of the Al-Qaida group. Maybe, some Taliban supporters will decline this offer. However, it will create a lot of possibilities for peace as a changing attitude towards this terrorizing group.