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Do Empires End In Afghanistan?

By Gulam Mitha

25 May, 2010

There are some interesting similarities between the Soviet and American led occupations of Afghanistan over the past 30 years from 1979-2009 but first a look at the historical brief about the country of interest to all empires including among others that of Alexander in 330 BC and the Mongols in the 13th century.

The word Afghan is a Persian word. Historian-traveller Ibn Battut while visiting Kabul in 1333 AD wrote that “the town is inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans”. –Stan in Persian means place. Afghanistan in Persian, therefore, means the place of the Afghans. Pashtuns (originally called Afghans) are the major tribe of modern Afghanistan. 45% (or 13 million) of Afghanistan’s 30 million population are Afghans and another 28 million live in the northwest and tribal belt (FATA) of Pakistan which part of Afghanistan was annexed by the British into India in the late nineteenth century. Historically, Afghanistan was also been known as Ariana in 275 BC. Later on Eastern Iran, north-western Pakistan, the tribal belt of FATA, all of Tajikistan and southern parts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan was known as Khorasan. The second Muslim Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab defeated the Persian Sassanids in 637 AD and by 640 AD it became a part of the Islamic Empire along with the region of Khorasan. Under the Islamic empire, this region continued to be known as Khorasan with the other two regions being Eraq-e-Arab (Arabic Eraq) and Eraq-e-Ajam (Iran or non-Arabic Eraq).

Geo-strategically, Afghanistan, a landlocked nation is the gateway connecting Middle East, Europe, Russia, China and the Indian Ocean. The objective of the great game was originally to control the gateway as a trade route but it has now become crucially important as a passage to the Indian Ocean for the vast energy reserves of the Caspian basin via Pakistan or Iran. Control of the Caspian would provide the west of energy monopoly and a future stranglehold on both Russia and China.

Afghanistan’s history is too rich to be detailed here but the point to be made is that it has been a part of Persia since the pre-Islamic Sassanid Empire from 224 AD and that the Afghans are originally Persian.

The US-NATO alliance has labelled the Afghans as Taliban. The Taliban was an ideological movement established in Pakistan in 1979 with the assistance of the Americans to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Most of the Taliban who fought the Soviets were Afghans from north-western Pakistan, FATA and Afghanistan along with some Arabs as well as Uzbeks and Tajiks from northern areas of Afghanistan (the Northern Alliance). The Taliban, now victims of Zionist genocide, sans the Arabs and Northern Alliance, have now turned upon the US-NATO occupiers of Afghanistan.

Superpowers crumble from within. There are two important factors which cause the internal collapse. Consider these factors as balloons; a balloon can only stretched to the limits of its elasticity or only a specific volume of air can be introduced in it before it will burst.

The first factor is stretching the political and military control sphere of an empire. The Soviet sphere stretched from its southern Russian borders as far south into Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in Asia and then from its western borders deep into Czechoslovakia in Europe. Half of Europe was under the Communist influence including Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Albania and Romania. These countries were economically, militarily, industrially and politically subservient to the Soviet Union. The Kremlin made the strategic error of an adventure into Afghanistan in 1979 knowing very well the licking every empire has suffered by this misadventure. The Soviet Union was confident that if not sooner then certainly later, it’d be at the warm waters of the Indian ocean. The Kremlin faced its political and military defeat in Afghanistan in 1989. The US should be thankful to the Afghans for this defeat.

The second factor is stretching the economic control sphere of an empire. The Soviet Union suffered a huge economic setback as it undertook the military misadventure into Afghanistan. Internally Moscow started crumbling as it could not economically, politically and militarily sustain the 10 year war from 1979 – 1989. And as Moscow’s economic crutches started to weaken, the US-NATO wolf pack alliance moved in to politically kill the enemy in its far defences of Poland and Czechoslovakia in Europe. The European Communist bloc was left with no option but to align with the western capitalist system and with NATO. By year 2000, there was nothing left of Soviet Communism and Russia was considerably weakened. The Zionists then planned the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext of ridding Afghanistan of al-Qaeda, Osama bin-Laden and Mullah Omar who were held responsible for the 9/11 attack on USA.

We now have a historical lesson which can be offered to US and its European partners in NATO. Whether or not the west sees the historical writings on the wall, the fact of the matter is that the capitalist west is militarily, industrially, politically and economically considerably weakened by its nearly 9 year misadventure into Afghanistan and Iraq. The economic malaise which hit the US has now crossed the eastern Atlantic shores of the US into Europe and is causing fissures in the military control sphere in Afghanistan. Just as the west moved in to kill the Soviets in Europe, there is another wolf pack lingering in the shadows waiting for the kill. The world can only discern the blurring images of these non-uniformed wolves howling in the mountains of Khorasan. Another year and the US-NATO alliance will match the 10 year Soviet record of its strategic mistake into Afghanistan. Russia or Britain did not become extinct as countries but their existence as empires exist only in the history books. Similarly future generations may well read about the American empire in history books even as it continues as a nation on the geographical map.

Interesting that the great British Empire too faced its partial defeat in Afghanistan and the end of an empire in the economic jewel called the Indian sub-continent. Is it that the Afghans (of Khorasan) are waiting to provide the final defeat to the British, part of NATO, also?