«MASTER OF MILITARY STUDIES TITLE: AHMAD SHAH MASSOUD: A case study in the challenges of leading modern Afghanistan. SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT ...»
Massoud joined the newly formed Coalition of the North as well. The aim of the Coalition was to overthrow the Najibullah government and establish a new government consisting of Massoud as President, Mazari-a Shia as Prime Minister, and Dostum as Defense Minister. The Coalition drew support from many of the non-Pushtun factions such as the Shia, Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks.
While personal gain cannot be discounted in Massoud’s decision to join the Coalition of the North, Najibullah’s nationalities policy which many groups felt oppressed the non-Pushtun populations is commonly cited as the main reason for the coalitions popularity. 53 Once again ethnicity was central to the formation of alliances in the post Soviet-Afghan war period, but the desire for power cannot be completely discounted when examining Massoud’s decision either.
government on the outskirts of Kabul and called on the leaders of the different factions to come together and set up an Islamic government, further stating he desired no position for himself. On the same date, however, Dostum’s militia was airlifted into Kabul and took positions within the city under the pretext of defending it against Hekmatyar, who having been alienated by the Coalition of the North arrangement, was massing troops to the south of the city. UN Special Envoy Benan Sevan had been called in to defuse the situation, but proved unsuccessful. Najibullah attempted to escape with Sevan, but was stopped at the airport by the Uzbek militia and took refuge in the UN compound in Kabul. 55
into the northern part of Kabul. Massoud confiscated the vast majority of arms from the military installations in the city as the Parchamis felt most comfortable and safe turning their arms over to him. Four days later, Hekmatyar entered Kabul from the south and by 24 April, 20,000 Mujihadeen from a variety of
and factions, not the government took control. For example, Muhammed Nabi Mohammadi’s Islamic Revolutionary Movement seized more capitals than any other group. In the west, Ismail Khan’s forces acted as the de facto government, with Dostum filling a similar role in the north. To make matters worse, there Kakar, 274.
were eleven different armed groups in Kabul alone. Massoud controlled the central part of the city, with Dostum in control around the airport, and Hekmatyar controlling the south. These groups were responsible for implementing the peace and supporting the government, but inter-factional
disintegrate because of problems between Massoud's and Dostum's newly independent ethnic homelands of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Dostum’s patron, President Karimov of Tajikistan, had reinstalled a communist coalition in Tajikistan with Dostum’s assistance. Massoud, an ethnic Tajik, began to take in Islamist and Tajik nationalist refugees. Karimov directed Dostum to close the Tajik and Uzbek borders with Afghanistan, bringing him into direct contact with Massoud’s forces. These clashes caused Dostum to break ranks with Massoud in the fall of 1993 and realign himself with Hekmatyar’s forces. 58
Supervisory Council and Islamic Union fought Islamic Unity in Chindawal and Khusal Maina. Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party fought Jamiat and the Supervisory Council, while Jamiat fought Dostum’s Uzbek Jawjan militia. The factional commanders needed to be held responsible for the actions of their men, but instead they incited the fighting and stood by while the citizens of Kabul were raped, robbed, kidnapped, and killed. The biggest factor in the government’s inability to deal with these excesses was the disintegration of the national army
backed Ittihad-I-Islami for control of west Kabul. Massoud’s forces joined the fight on the side of Ittihad. The fighting took a heavy toll on the civilian populace with hundreds killed and reports of over 80 women sold into slavery.
Massoud’s alliance with Ittihad was unusual in that he backed the Pushtun dominated Ittihad over the more ethnically similar Hazeras backed Hisb-IWahdit. Massoud’s move appears to have been an olive branch to the Afghan Pushtuns whom he felt had been disenfranchised by the Peshwar Accords. 60 The February 1993 fighting, and its alleged human rights abuses, probably did more to damage Massoud’s reputation as a legitimate national leader than any other period. Although Massoud claims he neither ordered nor knew about these abuses61, the responsibility ultimately rests with the commander. Throughout the civil war period all the major factional commanders, to include Dostum, Hekmatyar, and Massoud, completely abrogated their leadership responsibilities as commanders especially as those responsibilities related to human rights abuses. Reports of rape, looting, murder and slavery were commonplace during the civil war period and all the factions were responsible. Because of the excesses of his Mujihadeen, and the distaste these abuses caused both internal to Afghanistan, and internationally, Massoud could never be a legitimate national
Massoud attacked Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party in November of 1993, in the Tageb Valley, 40 miles northeast of Kabul. Massoud’s intent was to capture the Sarobi region, which linked Jalalabad and Kabul and provided hydroelectric power to the region. By capturing this region, Massoud would effectively cut Islamic Party lines of communications with Kabul.
smaller force, but was able to employ air support and destroyed Islamic party positions in Tageb, Sarobi, Lataband, and Laghman. The fighting was fierce with the Tageb changing hands ten times and over 800 killed and 1500 wounded between the two sides. Ultimately, however, Massoud was driven from the
support, advanced on the airport, media centers, and the presidential palace in Kabul. Rabbani, with the help of the Islamic Union launched a counterattack against Dostum and was able to retake portions of the airport. Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party attacked into the central part of the city, but neither Dostum nor Hekmatyar was able to overthrow the government. Both sides launched air and rocket strikes against heavily populated Kabul during the fighting and civilian casualties were heavy. By 21 January, almost 10,000 people had been admitted
Sebastian Junger, Fire. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2001), 216.
leading Afghanistan with only a 14 percent ethnic base. A bigger problem for Massoud, or for any future leader of Afghanistan, however, will be the forging of long-term alliances and/or co-opting factions or warlords to participate in a democratic form of government.
Given the factors mentioned previously in this chapter, Afghan society was simply too fractious for Massoud, or anyone else, to build effective long term alliances. The lack of trust between the different warlords based on the inter-Mujihadeen warfare of the civil war and the Pakistani policy of pitting the factions against one another during the insurgency, ensured that the building of short term coalitions vice long term alliances, would be the best Massoud would be able to do. The zero sum nature of Afghan society also ensured no long term interest convergence between the various warlords. What was good for one would be at the expense of the others and was therefore unacceptable to those that perceived themselves disenfranchised. Finally, the only incentive that truly mattered to the other warlords was power. When Massoud as Defense Minister was unwilling and unable to provide such an unrealistic incentive to the other faction leaders, any coalition building was doomed to failure. This failure brought a new power on to the scene…the Taliban.
The fighters were down by the river, getting ready to cross over, and we drove out there in the late afternoon to see them off. We parked our truck behind a mud wall, where it was out of sight, and then walked one by one down to the position. In an hour or so, it would be dark, and they'd go over. Some were loading up an old Soviet truck with crates of ammunition, and some were cleaning their rifles, and some were just standing in loose bunches behind the trees, where the enemy couldn't see them. They were wearing old snow parkas and blankets thrown over their shoulders, and some had old Soviet Army pants, and others didn't have any shoes. They drew themselves into an uneven line when we walked up, and they stood there with their Kalashnikovs and their RPGs cradled in their arms, smiling shyly.
Across the floodplain, low, grassy hills turned purple as the sun sank behind them, and those were the hills these men were going to attack. They were fighting for Ahmad Shah Massoud — genius guerrilla leader, last hope of the shattered Afghan government — and all along those hills were trenches filled with Taliban soldiers. The Taliban had grown out of the madrasahs, or religious schools, that had sprung up in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion, and they had emerged in 1994 as Afghanistan sank into anarchy following the Soviet withdrawal. Armed and trained by Pakistan and driven by moral principles so extreme that many Muslims feel they can only be described as a perversion of Islam, the Taliban quickly overran most of the country and imposed their ironfisted version of koranic law.
Adulterers faced stoning; women's rights became nonexistent. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognize their government as legitimate, but it is generally thought that the rest of the world will have to follow suit if the Taliban complete their takeover of the country. The only thing that still stands in their way are the last ditch defenses of Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Masssoud’s confrontation with the Taliban and Al Queda centered on his belief that both were the products of outside influences, and bad for the long term future of Afghanistan. This Chapter will discuss the rise of the Taliban, examine Massoud’s campaigns against it, analyze the role of Al Queda, and finally analyze why Massoud was forced to retreat into the far north of the country in the face of his opposition.
The Taliban grew out of a turf battle between the ISI and the Interior Ministry of the Bhutto regime of Pakistan. The ISI opposed the formation of the Taliban because of their long-term sponsorship of Hezb-I-Islami and belief that Hekmatyar was capable of overthrowing the Rabbani government. The assumption could be made as well that by discontinuing their support for Hezb, the operation would be perceived as a failure by the government and the ISI
weaken the ISI control of Afghan affairs. One of the primary reasons for the rise of the Taliban, however, was economic in nature. Pakistan wanted to open trade routes into Central Asia and a destabilized Afghanistan made that impossible. In order to open these trade routes, Pakistan wanted the Taliban to open the airport at Kandahar, open the Kandahar to Herat highway, and reestablish banks and
the Afghan refugee community concerning the inter Mujihadeen civil war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Madrassas or religious schools were predominantly filled with Afghan refugees and provided General Babar a steady supply of fundamentalist warriors who, combined with some Pakistani and Arab cadres, comprised the Taliban. These students saw the Mujihadeen leadership as being sinful and their actions not in keeping with the spirit of Jihad.
commanders in order to weaken the Mujihadeen warlords from within rather Aabha Dixit, “Soldiers of Islam: Origins, Idealogy, and Strategy of the Taliban”, IDSA, (August 1997): 6.
than fighting set piece battles. This strategy was so successful that the Taliban captured 14 provinces in south and central Afghanistan with no real resistance.
The early successes of the Taliban convinced the ISI that the Taliban was a more effective instrument of Pakistani foreign policy than their surrogate Hekmatyar whom they subsequently deserted. From this point forward the ISI took the lead within the Pakistani government for the training and operational oversight of the
of Doorhai. From there the Taliban moved against Spin Bolak and then towards Kabul. Of special significance was the fact that the Taliban’s ranks went from 2,500 to 30,000 during this campaign. On 14 February 1995, the Taliban seized Hekmatyar’s main base at Charasyab, in Logar province. Hekmatyar retreated into the mountains in Sarobi province without firing a shot, leaving his heavy
moved into south Kabul, Massoud counterattacked, driving them out, but caused significant collateral damage in the process. 68 Massoud was able to hold the Taliban out of Kabul for over a year (1995-96) and pushed them back into Zabul and Hilmand provinces. Despite these successes, however, Massoud was forced to retreat from the city. The overwhelming desertions from his Pushtun militias, Dostum’s refusal to switch sides in order to relieve pressure from the northwest, and the cutting of his lines of communications to Jalalabad all caused Massoud