Afghanistan, several civil wars. The ruler of

Afghanistan, several civil wars. The ruler of

Afghanistan, often called the crossroads of Central Asia, has had a turbulent history. Through the ages, Afghanistan has been occupied by many forces. A separate Afghan nation came into existence in 1746 as the Durrani Empire, but control was ceded to the United Kingdom until King Amanullah acceded to throne in 1919. Since then, the country has known many governments and several civil wars.

The ruler of Afghanistan belonged to the Abdali tribal group, whose name was changed to Dorrani on the accession of Ahmad Shah. They belonged either to the Saddozay segment of the Popalzay clan or to the Mohammadzay segment of the Barakzay clan. The Mohammadzay furnished the Saddozay kings frequently with top counselors, who served occasionally as regents, identified with the epithet Mohammadzay.

The last period of stability in Afghanistan lay between 1933 and 1973, when the country was under the rule of King Zahir Shah. Violence was limited and the country became the main overland route between Australia and London for travellers. However, in 1973, Zahir’s brother-in-law, Sardar Mohammed Daoud launched a bloodless coup. Daoud and his entire family was murdered in 1978 when the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan lauched a coup and took over the government. Opposition against the new Communist government was immense, and with the government in danger of collapse, the Soviet Union invaded on December 24, 1979.

Faced with mounting international pressure and losses of approximately 15,000 Soviet soldiers as a result of mujahadeen opposition trained by the United States, Pakistan, and other foreign governments, the Soviets withdrew ten years later in 1989. Fighting subsequently continued among the various mujahidin factions, giving rise to a state of warlordism that eventually spawned the Taliban. Backed by foreign sponsors, the Taliban developed as a political force and eventually seized power. The Taliban were able to capture 90% of the country, aside from Northern Alliance strongholds primarily in the northeast.

The Taliban sought to impose an extreme interpretation of Islam–based in part upon rural Pashtun tradition. United States and allied military action in support of the opposition following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks forced the group’s downfall. In late 2001, major leaders from the Afghan opposition groups and diaspora met in Bonn and agreed on a plan for the formulation of a new government structure that resulted in the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) on December 2001. The AIA held a nationwide Loya Jirga in June 2002, and Karzai was elected President.

In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing military action to root out remaining terrorists and Taliban elements, the country suffers from enormous poverty, rampant warlordism, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines. Hamid Kazai was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt in September 5, 2002. In March 3 and 25 2002, a series of earthquakes struck Afghanistan, with a loss of thousands of homes and over 1800 lives. Over 4000 more people were injured. The earthquakes occurred at Samangan Province (March 3) and Baghlan Province (March 25). The latter was the worse of the two, and incurred most of the casualties. International authorites assisted the Afghan government in dealing with the situation.

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