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 taking office.
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 total population in Afghanistan is 38,928,357 people in 2020. 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 A’s GDP.
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 Soviet troops.