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Afghanistan is not a friendly place to outsiders. Especially the outsiders who execute their leader and place an unwanted one in his place. Ironically enough Afghanistan’s ally, the USSR did just that in 1980. Lets step back though to 1979 when the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (Hafizullah Amin) was asking the Soviet government for military aid. This plea for help was the result of attacks by the Islamic extremists (mujahideen) who wanted to oust Hafizullah Amin and Nur Mohammad Taraki and end the progressive reforms they wanted for Afghanistan. Some of these reforms included equal rights for women, secular education and new land laws. (SMSH) However these changes would never see the light of day, not because of the extremists but because of the USSR.

The USSR answered Afghanistan’s call for help on December 25, 1979. They sent a small contingent of Soviet troops to help out with the fight against the extremists. Yet this “invasion” as the Western powers perceived it was just the USSR helping out a friend in need. The USSR’s next move would be the move that would lead to the start of the downfall of communism. That move was the execution of Hafizullah Amin and implanting Babrak Karmal as the president. The reason for this execution as stated in SMSH was because of Amin’s execution of Taraki who was friends of Brezhnev and he felt betrayed by Taraki execution. Yet the blatant interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs was not seen as a justified action by the international community.

Things only got worse for the Soviets as the Mujahideen moved into the mountains and began a fierce ten year guerrilla war that ultimately ended with the Soviets withdrawing. The USSR sent thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan and many returned in caskets. As the war dragged on its toll on the economy back in Russia worsened until their was no economy. This coupled with civilian opposition to the war started the Soviets toward their own destruction. On top of all that the Mujahideen got the help of the US by weapons and ammo which greatly increased their effectiveness against the Soviets.

Overall the decision to help out in Afghanistan was not a bad idea, it was the personal decision by Brezhnev to execute Amin and place Karmal at the head of an already very unstable government. As a result of this more men joined the ranks of the Mujahideen and bloody ten year guerrilla war took place resulting in terrible conditions back home in Russia that would ultimatelylead the USSR down the road of collapse.

 

Sources:

Picture: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1980afghanistan&Year=1980&navi=byYear

Text: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1980afghanistan&Year=1980&navi=byYear

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1980appeal1&SubjectID=1980afghanistan&Year=1980