The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan


Historical background

Afghanistan, a crossroads in Central Asia, it has a long history of military conflict. In the fourth century BC Alexander the Great entered the region, which was then part of the Persian Empire, to control Bactria (today Balkh), and subsequent controls by the people of Skodia and Turks in the subsequent centuries. In AD 642, the Muslim Arabs dominated the entire area, bringing Islam into the region.

Afghanistan is one of the most rugged countries in the world, with its rugged mountains, desert terrain, and ethnic composition, like the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic groups, accompanied by Tajiks, Hazar, Aymak, Uzbeks, Turkmen and other small groups, which is a difficult environment to deal with.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan

The Soviet war in Afghanistan or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the name of a decade-long war. The Soviet goal was to support the Soviet-friendly Afghan government, which was suffering from anti-Soviet rebel attacks and who received support from a group of anti-Soviet states. Including the United States of America, Pakistan, and China. The Soviets entered the 40th Army on December 25, 1979. Soviet forces withdrew from the country between15 May 1988 and 2 February 1989. The Soviet Union declared the withdrawal of all its forces formally from Afghanistan on 15 February 1989.

The upheaval of April 1978

Muhammad Zahir Shah inherited the throne and ruled between 1933 and 1973. His cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan assumed the post of prime minister between 1953 and 1963. During this period, the popularity of the Marxist Party – the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan – increased. In 1967, the party split into two competing factions, creating the masses led by Nur Mohammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, And Al-Bayraq, led by Babrak Karamel.

Former Prime Minister Mohammed Dawood Khan came to power with a bloodless coup on July 17, 1973, with accusations of political corruption and poor economic conditions. Dawood thus put an end to the monarchy but his attempts at economic and social reform failed. The intense divisions with the Afghan People’s Democratic Party (PDP) divisions have been overshadowed by the repression of the regime of Mohammed Dawood Khan. The party reunited with the aim of putting an end to the rule of Dawood. On April 27, 1978, the party ousted and executed Mohammed Dawood with his family. Noor Mohammad Taraki, secretary-general of the Afghan Democratic People’s Party, became president of the Revolutionary Council and prime minister of the newly established Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

Soviet intervention

In December 1978, Moscow signed a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty with Afghanistan allowing for Soviet intervention if Afghanistan requests. Soviet military aid grew and the Amin government became a more reliable government depending on Soviet military equipment and advisers. But in October 1979, the relationship between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union changed when Amin ignored Soviet advice to make his government more stable.

Islamic fighters harassed the Afghan army in the mountainous areas that the government of hafz alah amin has gone to the Soviet Union by asking to increase support. The Soviet Union decided to provide this support to preserve the revolutionary government, but they felt that Amin is an Afghanistan leader who is not able to play this role. Soviet leaders, based on information provided by the Soviet intelligence service (KGB), felt that Amin was weakening the situation in Afghanistan. The latest suggestion to get rid of Amin was information obtained from the KGB agents in Kabul, which concluded that the supposed guards of Amin’s security guards killed former President Noor Mohammad Tarki , and that the suspicions were about the fact that Amin is an agent of the CIA. But there were doubts among the Soviet military advisers to the Afghan army. For example, General Vasily Zablatin, who was a political adviser at the time, claimed that a heap of Taraki ministers was behind the instability. Another strong argument against being a CIA agent is that he has always officially shown friendship and closeness to the Soviet Union.

On December 22, soviet advisers of the Afghan armed forces referred to the Afghan armed forces to work on the maintenance of tanks and other forms of critical and important equipments. In the meantime, the network of connections to the areas outside Kabul has been cut off, isolating the capital. With a deteriorating security situation, large numbers of Soviet troops joined forces stationed on the ground and began to land in Kabul. At the same time, Amin transferred Presidential Offices to the Tajbak Palace, believing that this would be safer than the potential dangers.

On December 27, 1979, 700 of them, 54 KGB Special Forces agents from the Alpha and Zenith Group, dressed in Afghan uniform, occupied the main government, military and radio buildings in the capital Kabul, including their main objective – the Tajbek presidential palace, where they get rid of the president, hafz alah amin. That process began when Soviet special forces from the Zenith group detonated the main communications division in Kabul, paralyzing the Afghan military command. Then, the battle began in the Tajbak castle and lasted for 45 minutes. At the same time, other sites were occupied (for example, the Ministry of the Interior). The operation was completed on the morning of the 28th of December. The military command in Kabul symbolizes the liberation of Afghanistan from Amin’s rule.


According to the Soviet Political Bureau, the Soviets were implementing the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-Neighborliness of 1978 signed by former President Taraki. The Soviets believed that the removal of Amin would end the internal struggle for power within the Afghan People’s Democratic Party and reduce Afghan discontent.

The Soviets said the execution of Hafizullah Amin was carried out by the Afghan Central Revolutionary Committee. Then the Afghan Central Revolutionary Committee chose the former Deputy Prime Minister Babrak Karamal, who was chosen for the relatively insignificant position as consul in Czechoslovakia after the creation of power.

Military ground forces entered Afghanistan from the north on 27 December. In the morning, the Vitebsk battalions landed at an airport in Bagram.

In general, Brezhnev rejected 18 formal requests for military assistance from the Afghan government before the actual Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Legally, the process was not an occupation, and the Soviet Union claimed that the label was the result of American anti-Soviet propaganda.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan

Soviet operations

After the Soviet intervention, the Soviet forces could not extend their authority outside Kabul. About 80% of the country’s areas remained outside the effective control of the government. The first task of protecting cities and installations was expanded to include the fight against Mujahideen forces opposed to communism. Therefore, Soviet reservists were employed mainly.

The first military reports referred to the difficulties faced by the Soviets during the fighting in the mountain areas. The Soviet army was not accustomed to that form of fighting, had no training to counter irregular war and guerrilla warfare, and their military mechanisms, especially armored vehicles and tanks, were often inefficient and susceptible to attacks in the mountainous environment. Heavy artillery was used intensively during the fighting of the rebel forces.

The Soviets used helicopters (including Mi-23 miles) as the main air attack force, supported by fighter-bombers and bombers, ground troops and special forces. In some areas, the Soviets used the scorched earth style, destroying villages, houses, crops, cattle, etc.

International condemnation of the alleged killing of civilians in any area where the Mujahideen were suspected of being raised was raised. The operations to capture rebel groups were usually unsuccessful and had to be repeated in the same area more than once because the rebels could return to their hideouts in the mountains and to their villages while the Soviets returned to their bases.

The failure of the Soviets to get out of the military impasse, get the support and support of a large segment of the Afghans, or rebuild the Afghan army, forced them to increase direct intervention of their forces to fight the rebels. Soviet soldiers found themselves fighting civilians because of the elusive tactics of the rebels.

The reaction of the world

US President Jimmy Carter noted that the Soviet incursion was “the most serious threat to world peace since World War II.” Carter also imposed a ban on the export of goods such as grain and advanced technology to the Soviet Union from the United States of America. The growing tension and uneasiness in the West led to the presence of large numbers of Soviet troops close to oil-rich areas of the Gulf and quickly arrived at a hostile attitude.

The international reaction was strong, Ranging from the warnings Stern and the boycott of the Olympic Games for the summer of 1980 in Moscow. The Soviet occupation participated in addition to other events such as the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the crisis of American hostages that accompanied, The Iranian-Iraqi war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, and the rise of fundamentalist anti-Western fundamentalist movements used to make the Middle East a region of tension, violence and volatility during the eighties of the last century.

The Barbak Karmal government did not initially enjoy international support. The foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries denounced the Soviet occupation and demanded that the Soviets withdraw at a meeting in Islamabad in January 1980. The UN General Assembly also voted 104 to 18 and 18 abstained in favor of a resolution that “strongly condemns” the “latest armed intervention”, And called for “full withdrawal of foreign troops” from the country.

It was impossible for the Security Council to do any real work because the Soviet Union had veto power, but the General Assembly of the United Nations passed repeated resolutions opposing the Soviet occupation.

Afghan resistance

By the mid-1980s, the Afghan resistance movement, supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries, had inflicted heavy military losses and tense international relations. Afghan non-regular combatants were armed, financed and trained mainly by the United States and Pakistan.

Saudis and Gulfis were constantly sent to Afghanistan to take part in the resistance as mujahedeen, and this was entirely American.

Of interest was the donation of the American anti-aircraft missile system FIM-92 Stinger, which raised the volume of losses in the Soviet air force. The fighters can also target aircraft that fly from and land in air defenses









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