World: Unease over US exit in Afghan valley where Soviets were routed - PressFrom - US

WorldUnease over US exit in Afghan valley where Soviets were routed

05:30  12 february  2019
05:30  12 february  2019 Source:

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The Soviet – Afghan War lasted over nine years, from December 1979 to February 1989. Insurgent groups known collectively as the mujahideen, as well as smaller Maoist groups

The War in Afghanistan (or the U . S . War in Afghanistan ), code named Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (2001–14) and Operation Freedom's Sentinel (2015–present)

Unease over US exit in Afghan valley where Soviets were routed© WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images This photo taken on February 7, 2019 shows an Afghan woman wearing a burqa walking near the remains of Soviet-era tanks along a road at Gorgote in Panjshir Province, north of the capital Kabul.

The last time Abdul Karim saw Soviet forces he was a teenage mujahideen fighter shivering on an Afghan mountainside, clutching his Kalashnikov and wondering if winter or the Russians would bring death first.

"But then I heard (mujahideen commander) Ahmad Shah Massoud over the walkie talkie saying the Russians had withdrawn, and we could come down," Karim told AFP in Afghanistan's legendary Panjshir Valley, where the Red Army was bled into retreat.

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The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979. They were invited by the then prime minister of Afghanistan , Hafizullah Amin, for With development work coming to a halt soon after the Nato exit it will all be left upon Afghanistan and its neighbouring friends, most importantly Pakistan

The United States invasion of Afghanistan occurred after the September 11 attacks in late 2001, supported by close US allies. The conflict is also known as the U . S . war in Afghanistan . Its public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda

It would be several more years before the Soviets left Afghanistan for good on February 15, 1989 having suffered the loss of 15,000 men -- many in the unforgiving mountain passes of Panjshir.

But for Karim, peace was short-lived -- Afghanistan fractured into a ruinous civil war, and the young fighter was back on the frontlines.

Thirty years later, Afghans who experienced the bloody aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal fear a repeat of that chaos as another invader -- the United States -- negotiates an exit from its longest war.

The parallels are not lost on veterans whose dogged resistance brought a superpower to its knees.

It was in the stronghold of Panjshir, north of Kabul, that Massoud lured the Soviets into high, narrow mountain passes where his loyal mujahideen lay in wait.

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Understanding that the Soviet Union's troublesome economic and international situation was complicated by its involvement in the Afghan War The withdrawal was complicated, however, by the rapid deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan . While the US was not bound to stop arms

It was taken over under the NATO administration since then. Due to the multiple damage encountered in the […] Camp Dwyer is a United States Marine Corps installation and airfield located in the Gamir district of the Helmand River Valley in Afghanistan .

Massoud, dubbed the "The Lion of Panjshir", is venerated not just in the valley -- where his mujahideen rebuffed nine Soviet offensives -- but across Afghanistan, where he is a celebrated national hero.

His death at the hands of al-Qaeda assassins, two days before September 11, 2001, is mourned every year and is marked by an official holiday.

The road through Panjshir is punctuated by towering images of his likeness and the rusted skeletons of Soviet tanks, helicopters and heavy guns -- "a graveyard of empires", another former mujahideen, Mohammad Mirza, told AFP.

- 'Nine times they failed' -

Three decades on, talk of Massoud's military cunning -- outmanoeuvring tanks and fighter helicopters through ambush and attrition -- still evokes immense pride from his devoted foot soldiers.

"Nine times they tried (to take the valley), and nine times they failed," boasted another former mujahideen, who asked not to be named because he is now an Afghan police commander.

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While the US supported Afghani rebels against the Soviets , their prescience did not reach far enough in the The United States ' original goal in Afghanistan was to provide aid and work with the Taliban as if they were another political faction.[25] The CIA stated that it had expressed concern over Bin

Afghanistan – United States relations can be traced to 1921 but the first contact between the two occurred further back in the 1830s when the first recorded person from the United States was visiting

Flicking open his phone, he scrolled through grainy photographs of his younger self at a feast with fellow mujahideen after the Red Army's capitulation.

"Of course we celebrated, like all countries celebrate their great victories," he said, gazing wistfully at the photos.

"But always I remember those we lost. I cannot forget."

Wali Mohammad was 14 when he joined the mujahideen. He said every anniversary was "a reminder that anyone who invades this country will face the same fate".

But the victory was bittersweet: it failed to deliver the lasting peace that has eluded Afghanistan for four grinding decades.

"After the Russians left, we were sure peace was coming. But our neighbours, and regional powers, had their own agendas," the 52-year-old told AFP.

Karim, today burly and with a snowy beard, was also circumspect about the mujahideen's fabled victory, even before a crowd of admiring young Panjshiris reared on tales of their invincibility.

"We were happy that one enemy had left, but we also knew that war was not over," Karim said, twirling prayer beads and dressed in a traditional wool 'pakol' hat and heavy scarf to shield him from the cold.

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During the war in Afghanistan (2001–present), over 31,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence have been documented; 29,900 civilians have been wounded. Over 111,000 Afghans , including civilians, soldiers and militants, are estimated to have been killed in the conflict.

Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the mujahideen, in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of its client, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan .

- Ominous signs -

Overlooking a sweeping ravine, the corroded hulk of a Russian troop carrier lies semi-submerged in snow, spray-painted with a rousing slogan: "Long live Afghanistan. Death to the Taliban".

Panjshir, with its fierce warriors and natural defences, was largely spared the violence that plagued Afghanistan after the Soviet expulsion, and remains one of its most peaceful provinces.

But the looming prospect of a US withdrawal and Kabul riven with infighting and uncertainty as the Taliban takes centre stage, has stoked worry that history could repeat itself.

Massoud's son, Ahmad, said his father "had his doubts" about the haste of the Soviet withdrawal, fearing the country was too divided and the government too weak to keep Afghanistan together.

"He was concerned that this might actually lead Afghanistan into a greater chaos, which is exactly what happened," 29-year-old Massoud told AFP via WhatsApp.

"He strongly believed that the Russians were leaving Afghanistan too soon."

Graeme Smith, from the International Crisis Group, said the mujahideen understood that without a solid plan once the enemy leaves "the inferno of violence that follows might be much worse".

"They remember the brutal civil war of the early 1990s, and they don't want to repeat that," he told AFP.

Sitting atop a Russian tank abandoned on the roadside, Mirza bitterly recalled the violent legacy that trailed the vanquished Soviets.

"The day they left was both a sad and happy day for us," the softly-spoken former mujahideen said.

"Now that the US has decided to leave, we fear the same thing could happen again."

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