Afghanistan. A council assembly, Loya Jirga, adopted a
new constitution in early January that gives Afghanistan a
strong presidential office. A. is described as an Islamic
republic, but the word "sharia" (Islamic law) is not
mentioned. Women have explicitly the same rights as men. In
Parliament's second chamber, women are guaranteed at least
two terms for each of A's 32 provinces.
Struggles between rival private militias in several
provinces in central and northwestern Afghanistan demanded
hundreds of casualties and underlined President Hamid
Karzai's weak control over the country. In three cases, the
appointed governors were chased away, or prevented from
When Karzai dismissed Governor Ismail Khan in Herat in
September - a leading warlord -, riots erupted, forcing UN
personnel and aid workers to leave the city quickly.
According to CountryAAH, the remnants of the old Taliban regime continued to
oppose US forces and the new Afghan army, often targeting
their assailants and aid workers.
MSF suspended its operations in Afghanistan after five
employees were killed. MSF and other NGOs criticized the US
military's mix of military and civilian activities in
so-called provincial reconstruction groups (PRTs), which,
according to them, exposed high-risk personnel.
In June, around 45 Swedish soldiers were sent to a
British-led PRT in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan
under the NATO-led ISAF force.
Economically, Afghanistan had major problems. Only a
small portion of promised grants were paid. The only
industry that flourished was opium cultivation, which grew
by over 60% from 2003, when the crop became 3,600 tonnes,
worth US $ 2.3 billion or the equivalent of more than 60% of
Opium is now grown in all 32 provinces and is estimated
to support every ten residents. Afghanistan accounts for 87%
of world production and the UN warned that Afghanistan would
be transformed into a state that is both economically and
politically controlled by the opium trade.
During the summer and autumn, voter registration was
conducted throughout the country ahead of the presidential
election which was announced until October 9 after being
postponed in rounds. The level of registration was so high
that it became evident both that no one had any correct idea
of the number of residents and that many had succeeded in
registering more than once.
Despite the major deficiencies in preparation and Taliban
sabotage threats, the election could be carried out with UN
assistance without more serious disruptions. President
Karzai clearly defeated his 17 counter-candidates and
received just over 55% of the vote. The big question then
was whether he would be able to free himself from the
warlords he himself identified as the great threat to the
country alongside the opium trade.
Among the highlights during the year were that large
parts of the priceless art treasures that were assumed to
have been stolen from Kabul's museum during the war years
were found. They had been hidden away by prospective museum
staff already during the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.
1979 The Soviet invaders
Amine introduced reforms such as abolishing dowry, he
launched literacy campaigns on the maintenance of religious
values, and shrugged off the traditional power structures
dominated by feudal lords and clergy. In February 1979, the
US ambassador to Kabul was abducted and murdered. The US
interrupted its financial aid programs and introduced a
stricter tone of relations with Afghanistan, which it was
accused of being prosovetian. Amin survived several
assaults, but ended up being hanged anyway.
He was replaced by Babrak Karmal with support from the
Soviet forces, which in December 1979 had intervened in
Afghanistan for strategic reasons. The presence of the
Soviet forces was legitimized by a friendship and
cooperation agreement signed by Karmal. The Soviet
intervention marked the beginning of a sharpening of "the
Second Cold War", begun a few months before with the US
decision to slow the SALT negotiations on the reduction of
strategic nuclear weapons. It served as motivation for the
Muslim fundamentalists who, in solidarity, traveled to
Afghanistan to participate as volunteers in the fight
against "the great Satan" - these groups were largely funded
by Saudi Arabia. The Afghan people who assisted the
"mujahedins" - the Muslim guerrillas - fled to the
metropolitan cities or neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
After fierce fighting that killed 200 Pakistani soldiers
while 2000 were wounded, in April 1986 the Afghan-Soviet
forces managed to occupy the largest of the insurgent bases,
close to the Pakistan border; one has no figures on the loss
of government forces. A few days later, on May 4, for health
reasons, Babrak asked Karmal to be exempted from his posts
in the party after returning from several weeks of medical
treatment in Moscow.
The new secretary general of the PDPA, a younger pushtu
doctor Mohammed Najibullah, who was at the same time the
chief of political police, KHAD, was appointed president. In
January 1987 he proclaimed unilateral ceasefire, later
followed by guarantees from the part of the opposition that
wanted negotiations with the government; he issued amnesty
to imprisoned rebels and promised a swift withdrawal of