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Mar 18, 2013

Soviet Red Army Left Afghanistan

On this day in history, February 15, 1989, the Soviet Union announced the last of its troops had left Afghanistan almost ten years after entering the country. Soviet authorities hailed it as a victory, but most observers felt it was a major defeat for the USSR in the Cold War.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dispatched forces to support the struggling Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Islamist Mujahideen Resistance on December 24, 1979. The mujahideen was soon supported by the United States, Britain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Muslim nations.
President Sayid Mohammed Najibullah’s Soviet-backed Afghan regime acknowledged the complete withdrawal of the soldiers, stating: “I express my appreciation to the people and government of the Soviet Union for all-round assistance and continued solidarity in defending Afghanistan.”
During the Soviet occupation, about a million Afghans lost their lives as the Red Army tried to impose control, and millions more fled abroad as refugees. Soviet deaths were estimated at around 15,000.

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Item Reviewed: Soviet Red Army Left Afghanistan Description: U.S. support began in the Carter years, but expanded during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, when it became a focus of the Reagan Doctrine, under which the United States backed anti-Communist resistance movements in Angola, Nicaragua and other nations. The Reagan administration delivered several hundred FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Afghan resistance groups, including the Taliban. The mujahideen also received aid from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations. The Soviet occupation resulted in the death of 600,000 to two million Afghan civilians. More than five million Afghans fled the country to Pakistan, Iran and other parts of the world. Faced with mounting international pressure and heavy casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Victory for the United States The Soviet departure was seen as an ideological and military victory in the United States, which had supported the mujahideen through three presidential administrations in order to counter Soviet influence in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. After the removal of the Soviet forces, the United States and its allies lost interest in Afghanistan. The USSR continued to support Najibullah until 1992, when the new Russian government refused to sell oil to his regime. Conflict continued among the victorious mujahideen factions, which led to warlordism. The most serious fighting occurred in 1994, when 10,000 people were killed in Kabul. The Taliban developed as a political and religious force, seizing Kabul in 1996 and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. By the end of 2000, the repressive, anti-modern Taliban controlled more than 95 percent of the country. During the Taliban's seven-year reign, many Afghans experienced constraints on their freedom and human rights violations. Women were banned from jobs and girls were not allowed to attend school. Communists were eradicated and thieves punished by amputation. Opium production was almost wiped out by 2001. One day before the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush's administration agreed on a plan to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by force if it refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Operation Enduring Freedom In October 2001, following the September 11 attacks, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom, a military campaign to destroy al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. The U.S. military also threatened to overthrow the Taliban government for refusing to turn in Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda members. And the United States again joined with the former Afghan mujahideen to achieve its goals. The United States sent teams of CIA paramilitary officers to invade Afghanistan and assist anti-Taliban militias, backed by U.S. air strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda targets, culminating in the seizure of Kabul by the Northern Alliance and the overthrow of the Taliban. The hand of history weighed heavily on President Barack Obama in 2009 as he deployed 30,000 more U.S. troops to the country, with the aim of finally eradicating the Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan has a deserved reputation for thwarting ambitious military ventures and humiliating would-be conquerors. Sources: Borovik, Artvom. The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan. 1990 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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