The Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan


Charles Wilson was a U.S congressman most known for supporting the Mujahideen fighters. Early in the invasion however, he stated that it was unimaginable that the "mujahideen could chase the Russian Army out of their country." 'The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and, with minimal effort, were able to control major cities and garrisons with their large numbers of organized, trained troops. The Afghans who in the vast majority opposed the Soviet communistic invasion formed as the Mujahideen or "freedom fighters." The mujahideen were unorganized and did not have the weapons nor the infantry to challenge the Soviet Air Force. What the Afghans did have was hundreds of millions of dollars of support as well as C.I.A. aid, stinger rockets, and other lethal weapons from the United States. Afghanistan and the mujahideen could not have defeated the well-organized and funded Soviet government without American funding, weapons, and propaganda. 

The Soviet Union was a socialist state in Eurasia containing Russia and fourteen other surrounding countries. The union also went by the USSR and existed from 1922 to 1991. They were a communist party that advocated for a society in which all property is publicly owned, and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. Having the longest coastlines and most extended frontiers, the Soviet Union was a national power and threat to democratic nations such as the United States. Democratic nations differed in many beliefs, a few being freedom of speech and privately owned property. Afghanistan then and now was a slightly larger than Texas landlocked country in the middle east. Afghanistan has a long history of empires and countries attempting to invade from the Mongol Empire to the Myura Empire and then finally the Soviet Union. However, each of these invasions ended in nothing but ruins as the landscape and the people's tireless resistance has gotten the country the reputation of being the "graveyard of empires." 

The Soviet Union had many enemies who opposed their communistic government, which left the Soviets vulnerable. At this time, in the 1900's U.S. had strong ties with China, and the Soviets feared that the U.S. had plans to turn Afghanistan into a new regional base. Around 1795 a communistic party arose in Afghanistan, which went by The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). According to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, this party had strong opposition from the "fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan." In search of allies, the Soviet Union, after long debates, decided to enter and support the PDPA. They called this action an intervention which differed from the worldview of the act which called it an invasion. While they were supporting the party, many also believed they wanted to control Afghanistan to gain more authority and influence further south. 

Once the Soviets decided to invade, they took many actions to limit the resistance they would face. In April 1979, General Aleksey of the central political office of the soviet armed forces began to evaluate Afghan forces. He conducted a similar evaluation for Czechoslovakia in 1968 before the Warsaw Pact Invasion. After this, General G. Pavolsky of the USSR and many other experts traveled the country in secrecy, scouting out invasion routes. Once the forces were evaluated and deemed beatable, and an exact invasion route was identified, soviet advisors began to remove batteries, fuel, and ammunition from Afghan equipment, claiming they were replacing them. Along with this, once Soviet troops began to move, the Soviet government claimed it was merely a training exercise. Finally, on December 24th, Nikolai Vladimirovich Talyzin, the Soviet minister of communication, made final arrangements for disrupting communications within Kabul and other large provinces. All of this work assured a smooth, peaceful, and relatively painless invasion. On December 25th, Soviet troops began crossing into Afghanistan, and by December 27th, they had 50,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 5,000 of them being at the capital, Kabul. The Soviets disabled Kabul's telephone infrastructure and seized radio stations to control the international narrative. During this time, Amin, the Prime minister of Afghanistan, was hiding in the Dural Aman palace with disguised Soviet Special Agents who executed him. Only 1,800 Afghan guards survived, and they were all executed in an effort to leave no witnesses. 

On December 27th, the Soviets gained complete military control, suppressing Afghan independence after sixty years. Once in full control, they quickly began efforts to depress Afghan citizens' anger. One method they had was using Islam in service of the state. Karmal, who was installed as president by the Soviets, called the Soviet invasion an "act of god." The first Department of Islamic Affairs in Afghanistan was assembled. The goal was to reign in the clery (who were now government employees) and take control of all endowment and private funds of mosques so the government could renovate mosques and build many new ones. Along with these actions, they also gave economic incentives to mullahs and ulemas. A Mullah is a Muslim who is versed in Islamic theology and sacred law, and ulemas are a group of Muslim scholars recognized as knowing Islamic sacred law and theology. The Soviet government also handed out thousands of copies of the Quran, and even though all these efforts, opposition intensified. Months after the invasion, a national movement began named Allah-U-Akbar or God is Great. This resistance saw through the Soviet's feeble attempts to turn Islam into a service to the state. They distributed underground literature and conducted religious processions that chanted anti-government slogans. The Soviets realized the threat of this resistance in 1980 when thousands of protesters violated curfew and shouted out the Muslim call to prayer. 

The world was forced to decide whether the Soviet's actions reflected an invasion or intervention. Most countries, such as the United States, decided on an invasion. During Jimmy Carter's State of the Union Address, he claimed that it was an "Attempt to subjugate the fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan." He went on to say that while the Soviets had been at bay, the Soviets now "[have] taken a radical and an aggressive new step. As they are using their military power against a "relatively defenseless nation." While the U.S. was not involved President Carter saw this as "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War." Large countries weren't the only supporters of the "freedom fighters" but individuals who believed in the message the mujahideen fought for. Thousands of men and women went to Afghanistan to fight alongside the mujahideen; these people were Arab volunteers. They came to Afghanistan and waged jihad, which is a struggle or fight against Islam's enemies.

Before much time, the United States already was backing the Mujahideen. They rapidly took many small actions including boycotting the Moscow Olympics and banning Soviet fishing in U.S waters. Most of these had little impact and actions such as not supplying the Soviets with grain only hurt American farmers. With nearly full support from Congress, the United States and other countries led an international operation for over eight years. This operation was the largest ever run by the C.I.A. to supply the Mujahideen with better weapons.

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