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Realities of a complicated society: Russian President’s Special Representative for Afghanistan – on the consequences of the April Revolution

Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

-What were the specific events that triggered the civil war? What role did the revolution of April 27, 1978 play in this process?

– The power in Afghanistan in 1978 was taken over by officers oriented towards social transformation who had earlier, in 1973, helped to lead the country to Daud-khan but were then dissatisfied with his policies. The leftist sentiments of the new authorities and their actions to “socialize” state life in Afghanistan caused strong discontent among the Islamists, who regarded the reformers as communists, although they were not.

The cliché: “If you’re a communist, you’re a godless bastard. This served as the ideological basis for the civil war. The real basis for the outbreak of hostilities was the West’s support for the mujahedin movements, which wanted to overthrow the Moscow-friendly regime.

in a state of division and intraparty struggle, acted very clumsily and sprawling. They got carried away with purely leftist actions and did not take into account the specifics of their own society. You had to understand that it was one thing for officers who had seen the USSR and other countries, and quite another for the bulk of the Afghan armed forces, who came from kishlaks, villages, the countryside. They were very religious and susceptible to propaganda. Such an army was not capable of effectively suppressing the mujahideen armed opposition. The Afghan leadership had to repeatedly appeal to the Soviet authorities to bring in troops. Eventually, in December 1979 they did.

– How can one assess the impact of the Soviet contingent on the internal political situation in Afghanistan? What did it manage to achieve? .

– The influence of the Soviet contingent was different at different stages of its stay in Afghanistan. In the early years the Soviet intervention stabilized the situation. However, the Americans mobilized their sympathizers among anti-Soviet forces in the international arena, including the Arab monarchies, after which they increased aid to the Afghan armed opposition, the Mujahideen.

– For what reason did Soviet troops leave Afghanistan? And why do historians and political analysts still disagree on whether it was a defeat or a victory?

– It was neither a victory nor a defeat. In the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was undergoing Gorbachev’s perestroika. Romantic notions blossomed that we would come to an agreement with the West, that convergence would happen, and that everyone would live happily ever after. Such sentiments, coupled with the fact that the USSR was exhausted by the arms race and faced with a shortage of resources, forced the Soviet leadership to sacrifice Afghanistan.

– How would you characterize the situation in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal? Why did it turn out this way?

– It turned out well at first. Much happier than one could have imagined. The regime that existed in Afghanistan during the presence of Soviet troops lasted almost three years after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, and it fought alone against numerous mujahideen gangs. Had the Soviet Union not cut off supplies of fuel and lubricants during the last phase of its existence, it might have survived for a long time.

– What prompted the American invasion of Afghanistan? How can we assess the activities of the Western contingent in the country?

– It was technically a reaction to the 9/11 attacks in New York. They had to urgently punish someone and demonstrate that the U.S. is the masters of the world and can not be treated as such. They ignored the fact that there were no Afghan nationals among the attackers in New York.

Later on, the Americans repeated many of the mistakes of the Soviet Union and managed to make a bunch of their own. Under the Communist Party of the Soviet Union there was a notion that socialism was expanding and Afghanistan was another of its outposts, so all social experiments of the ruling party were supported. The Americans, in fact, went the same way, only instead of socialism they began to build democracy, without taking into account the realities of the complex society in Afghanistan.

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– If we’re talking about the socio-economic situation, the situation there today is dismal. As for the military-political aspect, the current Taliban* authorities do not have a serious military rival who can challenge them. Nevertheless, this situation will not last forever, because the deteriorating socio-economic situation is working against the ruling regime. The future may see a withering of public and social support for the authorities.

– How do you see the future of Afghanistan? On what factors does it depend?

We also need to make the entire collective West, and the U.S. in particular, pay for its own mistakes in Afghanistan with social and economic aid, which will help to rectify the situation.

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