Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011
On Dec. 27, 1979, Afghan President Hazifullah Amin is assassinated by Soviet forces, two days after Russian paratroopers land in Kabul. For months, the Marxist-Leninist Afghan government requests troops from the Soviet Union to suppress Islamist rebels, the Mujahedeen, covertly supported by the United States. The USSR comes, but also takes over the country, setting up a leader under the Afghan Revolutionary Central Committee. The war, a key battleground of the Cold War, lasts until 1989, draining Russia of money, lives, and attention. The war is often referred to as the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War.” Amnesty International estimates that at as many as 1 million Afghans die between 1979 and 1989.
The current war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 after the United States launched an invasion into the country in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The main goal was dismantling the Taliban government and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which was based in the country. Over the past several years, the conflict has spread into Pakistan, as the Taliban and other militants have started operating in the country’s rugged north. The United States earlier this year announced it would pull troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.