Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 

"Terrorism" and Blowback

Part Two: "Terrorism," Blowback and US Foreign Policy, 1953-1992

 

August 19, 1953    A CIA coup in Iran overthrows the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and re-installs Reza Pahlavi as Shah of Iran. Over 300 people are killed and many hundreds are wounded in the nine hours of fighting. [Plans had been brewing to oust the nationalist Mossadegh ever since he and his party had passed a bill in 1951 to nationalize the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The coup, however, was increasingly proclaimed in the years following as essential to prevent "the obvious threat of Russian takeover."   Its cost to the US taxpayers was about $19 million.

The future cost to the people of Iran was incalculable. Thousands were executed during the next twenty-five years of the Shah's reign. SAVAK, the secret police created and trained by the CIA, was described by Amnesty International in 1976 as having a "history of torture which is beyond belief. No country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran." Matchbox, Fall, 1976.

The United States got many military installations in Iran, bases for surveillance flights over Russia, and radar and electronic listening posts that completed the encirclement of the USSR. American oil firms gained a 40% interest in the new international consortium for Iranian oil. The US would spend over a billion dollars to support the Shah's regime and the military in Iran. (The CIA distributed about $400 million a year to placate the ayatollahs and the mullahs from 1953 until President Carter ordered a stop in 1977, a move that undoubtedly contributed to the 1978 revolution.) Blum, William, The CIA: A Forgotten History (1986), pp. 67-76.]

September, 1953    Mohammed Daoud Khan becomes prime minister in an intra-family transfer of power that involves no violence. [His ten-year tenure was noted for the foreign policy turn to the Soviet Union, the completion of the Helmand Valley project which radically improved living conditions in southwestern Afghanistan, and tentative steps towards the emancipation of women.  (He required his wives and those of his cabinet members to appear in public unveiled.) His obsession with Pashtunistan and his hostility to Pakistan proved disastrous to the economy.  (The grape and pomegranate harvests had to be air-lifted to markets in India in 1961 and 1962, thanks to Daoud's severance of diplomatic relations with Pakistan.)  Nyrog, p. 58-62.]

1956    Having been rebuffed by the US for both sales of arms and loans, Afghanistan turns to the Soviet Union for aid to equip and train the army and air force as a defense against provocations by the Pakistanis. [Within a few months the USSR had sent jet airplanes, tanks, heavy and light artillery for a heavily discounted price tag of $25 million. By 1973 the Soviet Union had invested a billion dollars in the army and infrastructure of Afghanistan. They built a modern highway from Kabul to Soviet Tajikistan, a giant air base at Bagram, and pipelines for natural gas. Afghan officers received training in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and Russian became the military language of the country. Nyrop, p. 293; Cooley, pp. 10-11.]

September 27, 1962    President Kennedy meets with Afghanistan's Foreign Minister, Prince Naim, and tells him "the United States is a long way off [from Afghanistan] and even though it is very anxious to help it can at best play a limited role." Anshutz, J. Bruce, Afghanistan: The First Five Years of Soviet Occupation (1986), p. 28.

March, 1963    King Zahir Shah ousts Daoud as prime minister, as his anti-Pakistan policies have ruined the economy and the family agrees that Daoud must go.  Zahir Shah takes control of the government himself and institutes a parliamentary democracy.  [The Afghan constitution of 1964 gave women equal rights, including the right to vote and the right to an education. Wearing of the veil was discretionary. (The Loya Jirgah that approved the constitution included six women.) There was partial freedom of the press, and the country's infrastructure was transformed thanks to the influx of foreign aid. Family-planning clinics for women were opened in 1968. The constitution also mandated that all inhabitants of Afghanistan of whatever ethnic origin were "Afghans."  Before that only Pashtuns were known as "Afghans." Nyorg, pp. 62-65; Griffin, pp. 64, 88; Goodwin, Jan, Price of Honor, p. 89; Richter, "Revolutionary Afghan Women", zmag.org; Cooley, p. 11.]

January 1, 1965    Twenty-seven Afghans, mostly university lecturers and civil servants who have been meeting clandestinely for some time, take advantage of the more liberal atmosphere to form the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). A nine-man central committee is elected with Nur Mohammad Taraki as Secretary General and Babrak Karmal as his deputy. The platform and suggested reforms are very similar to those of King Amanullah. [In the autumn elections half of the PDPA candidates standing for election were elected. All four were from what would become the Parcham faction; one was a woman, Dr. Anahita Ratebzad, the close companion of Babrak Karmal. Only twenty progressive candidates were chosen for the 218-seat parliament unlike the "liberal parliament" of 1949. The tribal warlords, two-thirds of them illiterate, had recognized the political advantage of a parliamentary seat and had campaigned vigorously.   Edward Girardet, Afghanistan, The Soviet War (1985), p.96]

1972    Drought and famine cause the deaths of over 100,000 Afghanis. Relief funds from abroad are mishandled by the king's son-in-law, General Abdul Wali. Cooley, p. 11.

July 17, 1973    While King Zahir Shah is abroad in Italy in one of his many absences (this one for medical treatment), he is deposed by a coup, a relatively peaceful one with only eight fatalities.   Daoud Khan, the former prime minister, is installed as leader of the country. [Junior officers of the Afghan army who had been trained in the Soviet Union carried out the coup, with some assistance from the Parcham (the flag) wing of the Afghan communist party, but Daoud was in the background pulling the strings. King Zahir Shah was not unhappy to be able to remain in Rome where he became a pensioner of some unnamed Arab state. Daoud immediately abolished the monarchy and named himself the president of a one-party republic.  Reneging on his promise to make progressive reforms, he ran a repressive regime with hundreds of arrests and  political executions of leftists (including members of the Parcham who had helped him gain power) and Islamists (religious extremists.) He lessened the country's dependence on the Soviet Union and went to India, Saudi Arabia and newly-oil-rich Iran for aid.  Surprisingly, he did not renew the Pashtunistan issue; relations with Pakistan improved thanks to interventions from the US and Iran. His administration and the army squelched a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement whose leaders fled to Pakistan. There they were supported by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and encouraged to continue the fight against Daoud. These men --- Gulbuddin Hekmetyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Ahmad Shah Massoud --- would later be major leaders of the mujaheddin. Nyorg, pp. 67-72; Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2000), pp. 12-13; Griffin, pp. 17, 88; Cooley, pp. 11-12.]

Late 1977    As part of a worldwide review of Embassy categories, the United States downgrades its embassy in Kabul to the lowest category of mission, Class 4. [Obviously the State Department felt that Afghanistan was a country of little relevance to US interests. Amstutz, p. 29.]

April 19, 1978    The funeral of Mir Akbar Khyber, a key leader of the Parcham party who had been assassinated two days before, turns into a rally with close to 30,000 communists from both factions of the PDPA (Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan) attending and listening to stirring speeches by Nur Muhammed Taraki (Khalq) and Babrak Karmal (Parcham).    [This was the third political assassination in nine months.  Daoud, concerned both by the size of the crowd and the reconciliation of the two formerly warring factions of the PDPA, ordered wholesale arrests of the leadership of both factions.  Nyorg, p.72. Girardet suggests that Khyber was murdered by the Khalqis to provoke revolt and also get rid of a prominent Parchami. Girardet, p. 103.]

April 27-28, 1978    Afghan soldiers sympathetic to the Khalq (the masses) faction of the Afghani communist party overthrow the government and release the arrested PDPA members. Daoud and most of his family are killed resisting the coup; several thousand people die in the fighting. Nur Muhammad Taraki is installed as president; his two principal deputies are the Columbia University-educated politician, Hafizullah Amin (Khalq), and Babrak Karmal.  This ends the control of the country by the Durrani clan who had been in power (with one very brief interruption) since 1747.

[Daoud's police had been so slow in making the arrests that Amin, by using his children as couriers, had been able to arrange this coup which had already been planned for a later date. (Historians differ on whether the Soviet Union was taken by surprise or whether the USSR was aware of the plot and did nothing to stop it.) The PDPA quickly instituted a number of reforms: The mortgage debts of the peasants were canceled. (A third of them were were tenant farmers who were obliged to turn over half of the year's crop to the landowner.) A major literacy program was begun in Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. (The illiteracy rate for rural inhabitants was 90.5%; for women, 96.3%, meaning that a woman was four times less likely to be able to read than a man.) Bride-price was prohibited and women were given freedom of choice in marriage. There was universal free education and schooling for girls became compulsory.  Many hospitals were built (an 80% increase by 1985) and health services were provided to the peasants for the first time. Daoud's 1977 constitution was annulled and a series of decrees were substituted.  One called for "revolutionary military courts," another declared the equality of all Afghan ethnic groups and took away citizenship for all surviving members of the royal family.   Nyorg, pp. 213- 234; Girardet, pp. 103-104; Cooley, p. 12; Rashid, p. 13; Workers World, October 10, 1996.]

Summer-Autumn, 1978    There are violent protests over some of the reforms which challenge Afghan cultural patterns, especially land reform and the emancipation of women.  The Khalq faction takes over all the important government posts; the Parcham cabinet members are sent abroad as ambassadors.  (Babrak Karmal goes to Prague.)  Nyorg, pp. 231- 234.

February 14, 1979    US Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs is kidnapped by several armed members of a Maoist group and held hostage for the release of several of their imprisoned colleagues.   [Afghan security forces attacked the hotel room where Dubs was being held. Both he and his captors were killed in the crossfire.  President Jimmy Carter, who had been demanding that the situation be negotiated, was indignant, slashed the aid progam from $27 million to $5 million, and further reduced the diplomatic representation to chargé d'affaires.  Prior to this Amin had been trying to increase US participation in the country as a counter-balance to the Soviet influence.  Girardet, p. 114; Nyrog, p. 237.]

March 28, 1979    There is a major revolt in the province of Herat against the Taraki regime possibly fomented by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, capitalizing on the resistance to the enforced participation of women in the government literacy programs. (Herat is predominantly Shi'ite Moslem; the rest of Afghanistan is mostly Sunni.)  [The Soviet military advisors were major targets of the outraged mobs; 50-100 Soviets were killed, some tortured exquisitely.  The government recaptured the city, killing nearly 5000 Afghans. Most of the air force had defected by this time. When Taraki called out the air force, only a few pilots were willing to bomb the people of Herat. Those who refused were executed.  

Taraki and Amin asked the Soviet Union for "two or three battalions" to protect communication lines and the Bagram airfield. The USSR attempted to tamper the Khalqis' radicalism, urging attendance at mosques, inclusion of Parchamis and non-communists in the government, and a halt to the unpopular land reform movement. Most of this advice was ignored; the insurrections and the political executions continued.  There were all the trimmings of a police state— curfew, foreigners restricted to a radius of 35 miles around Kabul, and a secret police, AGSA, trained by the East German SSD. As a result, fewer and fewer UN technicians and other internationals were willing to remain in Afghanistan. In March, 1979 Amin took over as prime minister, but Taraki remained in the government as president. Nyrog, p. 234-238; Girardet, pp. 115-121; Amstutz, p. 39; Cooley, p. 12.]

April 4, 1979    In Pakistan the somewhat populist president, Zulfilcar Ali Bhutto, is overthrown and hung on the orders of General Zia al-Haq. [Zia initially canceled elections indefinitely, but was soon forced to allow local elections of individuals but without party labels. Ali Bhutto's western-educated daughter, Benazir, took over the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and was able to get many of the party faithful elected. She traveled abroad and promoted international aversion to Zia. The discovery that Pakistan was secretly constructing a facility to enrich uranium (in violation of the 1976 Symington Amendment) caused President Carter to stop military aid and impose economic sanctions in April. Zia, thus isolated, was ripe to find a "good war" to regain American support. He and the chief of ISI, his secret service, General Akhtar Rahman Khan, would find that opportunity with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Cooley, pp. 52-54.]

Friday, April 20, 1979    Afghan armored troops accompanied by 20 Soviet advisors move into the small farming community of Kerala in eastern Afghanistan. They call the men, all unarmed, to assemble in a field for a jirga to discuss the recent mujaheddin attacks on a military garrison. The women and children are sent into the mosque. When the men refuse to shout pro-communist slogans, the shooting begins. Bulldozers appear and proceed to plow the bodies into the soft earth; some are still alive and visibly moving. All the while a photographer is taking pictures that will be shown to demonstrate what happens to peasants who collaborate with the mujaheddin. (The people of Kerala are suspected, correctly, of furnishing food, shelter and ammunition to the rebels.) Next the soldiers enter the mosque and rip the chadors off those men who had thought to disguise themselves as women. [An estimated 1170 unarmed males were massacred— a larger number than the massacres at Lidice or My Lai. All the women and children plus the 100 men who managed to avoid the massacre, left within hours for Pakistan, across a river and over some mountains. The community of Kerala, once numbering 5000, was deserted. Girardet, pp. 107-110.]

July 3, 1979    President Carter, at the urging of his national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, signs a secret directive for clandestine assistance to enemies of the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. Cooley, pp. 13, 19-22.  [This, of course, was six months before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Brzezinski admitted this in 1998 to a rather shocked French interviewer: "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we consciously increased the probability that they would .... Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. You want me to regret that?"  When the interviewer asked if he regretted having supported the Islamic fundamentalists and given arms and advice to future terrorists, Brzezinski replied: "What is more important to the history of the world... the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" Interview with Vincent Javert in Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, January 15-21, 1998, p. 76, translated from the French by Bill Blum.]

September 9, 1979    An Amnesty International report claims there is widespread torture of prisoners in Afghanistan and that 12,000 political prisoners have been held without trial since the April, 1978 coup. Amin denies these charges.  Nyrog, p. 241.

September 14, 1979    After a second failed attempt by Taraki and the Soviets to assassinate him, Amin enters Taraki's office with a band of soldiers and has him arrested.  [Two days later it was announced that Taraki had resigned his posts for "health reasons." A small newspaper notice on October 10th indicated that he had died of a "serious illness."   According to Arnold, he was strangled and suffocated by three members of the presidential guards service. Nyrog, pp.238-239; Arnold, Anthony, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Perspective (1981); Cooley, p. 17.]

September 26, 1979    A secret report prepared for President Carter describes the deteriorating political situation in Pakistan and questions whether the rule of General Zia al-Haq will last out the year. Much of Pakistan's GNP is going to their nuclear development program, yet the country is asking for a rescheduling of their huge international debt. "Another problem in the US-Pakistani relationship is in the unchecked expansion of opium poppy cultivation in the tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border."  [Despite this negative assessment the Carter government continued the covert funneling of arms and supplies to Pakistan's ISI (secret service) which then sent about 50% to the seven principal Islamic fundamentalist guerrilla groups in Afghanistan which they were training and equipping. Cooley, pp. 58-59.]

November 4, 1979    Blowback in Iran: Islamic militant students invade the US Embassy in Tehran and hold 52 personnel hostage in retaliation for the US extension of hospitality to the deposed Shah Reza Pahlevi. [It would be 444 days before they were released.]

December 12, 1979    At a secret meeting in the Kremlin the decision is made to invade Afghanistan at Christmas despite the strenuous objections of the three key generals. [The leaders believed that Taraki, before his overthrow and murder, had been undermined by Amin's "personal dictatorship," that Amin was in cahoots with the US Embassy, and that Pakistan and the CIA were encouraging and equipping the ultra-right Muslim opposition. They were afraid that the Americans would try to destabilize their Muslim republics of Central Asia and that they wanted Pakistan and Afghanistan as anti-Soviet bases to replace those in Iran (lost earlier that year with the overthrow of the Shah.) Cooley, pp. 13-19.]

December 24, 1979    The Soviet Army enters Kabul and installs a puppet government. Babrak Karmal, the leader of the Parcham faction, is made president. Rashid, p. 13.

December 27, 1979    The Soviets assassinate Amin, as planned at the Kremlin meeting. (They first reported that he had been "accidentally killed.") Cooley, pp. 17-18

January 4, 1980    President Carter announces some measures to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—   a partial embargo on US grain sales to the Soviet Union, a major cutback on fishing rights in US waters, and no more licensing of American technology. He tells the Senate to shelve consideration of the SALT II arms reduction treaty. He hints that the US may boycott the Olympic games to take place that summer in Moscow. The next day Brzezinski leaves for Cairo and Islamabad to secure agreements:

  •   Egyptian President Anwar Sadat agrees to allow US cargo planes to fly from Egyptian air fields. He will also scour warehouses for old Soviet weapons including Kalashnikoffs.
  •  With the understanding that all weapons are to be funneled though his secret service, the ISI, General Zia al-Haq agrees that Pakistan will establish training camps and train Afghans and other Muslim volunteers.
  •  Saudi Arabia agrees to help financially. [Their contribution ultimately matched that of the US, dollar for dollar.]
  •  The Sultan of Oman contributes the use of air bases and naval harbors.
  •  Secretary of Defense Harold Brown negotiates a deal with China: The US will sell them a ground station for satellite reception which contains some coveted "dual-use" technology. China will allow the US to build two electronic intelligence posts in Xianjiang (to replace the ones lost in Iran.)
  •   Israel will very covertly supply the mujaheddin with Soviet weapons confiscated from the Palestinians. [It is also possible, but not proven, that Israel's special forces trained some Afghani volunteers.] Cooley, pp. 15-16, 59, 65-69, 100, 95, 108-110.

September 22, 1980    President Saddam Hussein of Iraq resurrects some old boundary differences as an excuse to go to war with Iran.  [Iraq had been nervous about its Shi'ite neighbor ever since their Islamic revolution the preceding year. Two-thirds or more of Iraqis were Shi'ites, although most of the government heads were Sunnis (and usually from Hussein's home town of Takrit.) The agreement made with the shah in Algiers in 1975 for both sides to refrain from fomenting the Kurds against the other nation was no longer in force under the new regime. Hussein anticipated a brief war that would result in Iraq's hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Initially Iraq was successful, but Iran was able to regroup its forces and the war became a stalemate with fearful numbers of casualties on both sides. Unwilling to see the Shi'ite state become the victor, both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia gave huge sums of money to support secular (but Sunni-dominated) Iraq. Toward the end the United States supplied weapons and the intelligence that served to defeat their enemy, Iran. Additionally, the US signed a five-year economic and technical agreement and granted Iraq $1 billion in food aid. In July, 1988 Ayatollah Khomeini was forced to accept the UN terms for a cease-fire without conditions. Farouk-Sluggett, Marion and Peter Sluggett, "Iraq and the New World Order" in Ismael, Gulf War and the New World Order (1994), pp. 278-279.]

January 20, 1981    Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th president. (Television gives the American public the split-screen spectacle of the inauguration ceremony plus the arrival of the Embassy captives just released by Iran.)   William Casey, the new head of the CIA, enthusiastically adopts the covert operation in Afghanistan started by Brzezinski, Carter, and Carter's DCI, Stansfield Turner. [The Black Budget cost of the first year under Carter had been $100 million. Rep. Charles Wilson (D-TX) of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee called this "peanuts" and, with several other anti-communist hawks, saw to it that Black Budget funds for the covert operation in Afghanistan quickly quadrupled. More weapons and better weapons were procured. Under a super-secret SOVMAT program (probably unknown to Pakistan's Zia) phony corporations bought huge quantities of weapons from Eastern European governments, including latest-model Soviet tanks and radar systems for fighter planes. The New York Times has estimated that the US and Saudi Arabia supplied nearly $6 billion worth of weapons to the Afghani "freedom fighters." (Other countries supplying funds or arms were Egypt, France, Israel, Great Britain, Iran, China and Japan.) Large sums went to the recruitment, training and maintenance of Muslim zealots from many countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Great Britain, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and the United States. An early and enthusiastic recruit was the wealthy Saudi national, Osama bin Laden, who had been suggested to the CIA by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Ibn Faisal Ibn Abdelaziz. Bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, set up recruitment centers in the major Arab countries. He paid for the transportation of these recruits to training centers in Pakistan and Afghanistan and subsidized their support. His construction and engineering skills were utilized to build roads, tunnels, hospitals, storage depots and secure bases hollowed into the mountains. Most of the training was done by Pakistan's ISI in camps built by the CIA in Pakistan and border areas of Afghanistan. The trainers were trained at the CIA "farm" in Virginia where they learned the latest techniques of arson, demolition, and assassination.] Cooley, pp. 60, 106-119; New York Times, 24 August 1998; Reeve, Simon, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism.

June 30, 1981    General Maxwell Taylor, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refutes the notion that the Soviet Union is planning to go to war against the United States: "They have conventional forces in close proximity to virtually all their national interests that may require defense. From their World War II experience, their leaders know how devastating conventional war can be. They also know that nuclear war would be many more times destructive, that they would lose in a few hours more than they lost in four years fighting the Germans. They could not afford to fight or even win a strategic war with the United States. In so doing they would so paralyze the nation as to make it easy prey to nearby neighbors-- wolves ready to take advantage of a stricken bear. Such enemies would include Chinese, Afghans, Turks, Germans and Poles beyond Soviet borders and non-Russians within."

September 23, 1981    The Afghani covert operation is blown to the American public when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat brags on the Today show about Egypt's contribution. When asked why he was doing this, he replies "because they are our Muslim brothers and are in trouble." Cooley, p. 38.

October 6, 1981    Blowback in Egypt: Despite the presence of his CIA-trained bodyguards President Sadat is assassinated while watching the annual military parade in Cairo. [An ambiguous fatwa had been issued against the Egyptian president earlier in the year by blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Islamists were angry with Sadat for signing a peace treaty with "the Zionist project" and for the lavish life style of the administration. Tensions had been heightened when, on September 2, Sadat arrested 1536 individuals, the key leaders in all the opposition groups—  al-Gihad, Islamic Group, Coptic priests, communists and Nasserites.     A plot was formed by army members of al-Gihad and the execution was carried out by young Lieutenant Khaled al-Islambuli who shouted, "I killed the Pharaoh!" The group's 54-page document, "The Neglected Duty," contained an extensive theological justification for their actions. It is, they said, a holy duty to rebel against one's rulers if the rulers are not following the true Islam. Beattie, Egypt during the Sadat Years (2000), pp. 272-277; Cooley, pp. 38-41; New York Times, October 13, 2001.]

February 11, 1982    In a secret memorandum Attorney General William French Smith exempts the CIA from its legal requirement to report on drug smuggling by any of its assets or clients.  [Canny CIA Director William Casey, remembering the lucrative heroin tie-in with the Vietnam War, had fought a secret battle to secure this exemption. Almost from the beginning of the covert op in Afghanistan it had been "arms in, drugs out" despite the Carter administration's efforts to run a drug-free war. With Reagan that changed. The FBI, instead of the DEA, was put in charge of the anti-drug program in the United States, so any previous DEA-CIA information-sharing ended. A blind eye was turned to the Afghani warlords who controlled the Khyber Pass and other transit routes to Pakistan through which military supplies and newly-trained mujaheddin must pass. Western supplies of heroin from Central Asia increased ten-fold in the decade of the war, soon surpassing Southeast Asia as the principal source. And the drug was no longer coming out as raw opium or blocks of morphine; heroin-processing laboratories sprang up in both Pakistan and Afghanistan displacing Marseilles and Hong Kong as the principal refining centers.  (Casey also needed the exemption for the covert operation against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas to protect the CIA officials working with cocaine-dealing contras.  In 1995 the Clinton administration rescinded the exemption with no fanfare; this action did not become public knowledge until 1998.)

The war took a recess each year at poppy harvesting time when the indigenous soldiers on both sides would go home to help harvest their crops. Soviet soldiers, frustrated with fighting a guerrilla war for which they had not been trained, quickly became addicted to the easily available drug, just as American GIs had in Vietnam. It can't be proven, but possibly that was part of the CIA scheme (as had been suggested to Casey and Reagan by the head of the French CIA and even given a label--- "Operation Mosquito.")  Cooley, pp. 126-139, The Consortium, June 1, 1998, pp. 2-4.]

June 6, 1982    Israel invades Lebanon in "Operation Peace for Galilee." [The immediate goal of Menachem Begin's government was to destroy the infrastructure of the PLO terrorists in southern Lebanon who had been killing and harassing citizens of northern Israel. Begin's ultimate aim, however, was to force the Palestinians out of their refugee camps and into Jordan where he hoped they would overthrow the monarchy and take over that country as "Palestine." Then with Palestinian ambitions for statehood satisfied, Israel could annex the West Bank captured in the 1967 War. Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1996, B7.]

September 16, 1982    Massacre in Lebanon:  Militiamen from the Lebanese Christian Phalanque— allies of Israel— storm two Palestinian refugee camps, Sabra and Shatilla, slaughtering around 800 civilians as Israeli troops, commanded by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, stand by.  [The invasion of South Lebanon, "Operation Peace for Galilee," had escalated. Israeli troops laid siege to the capital, Beirut, to widespread international condemnation. After the massacre in the refugee camps, 400,000 Israeli citizens demonstrated to protest the protracted campaign and the many Israeli casualties and demanded an inquiry into the degree of Israel's culpability at Sabra and Shatilla. Protesters gathered daily outside the windows of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, shouting "Murderer" in a manner reminiscent of the American doves who hurled similar epithets at LBJ. Like President Johnson, Begin resigned office in August, 1983 saying, "I cannot go on."   The Kahan Commission concluded that Sharon was "personally responsible" for the massacres and forced him to resign as Defense Minister. Karpin and Friedman, Murder in the Name of God (1998), pp. 66-67.  In June, 2001 a suit was filed in a Belgian court by 28 survivors of the massacre charging Sharon with crimes against humanity. The case was buttressed by some Israeli documents sent anonymously to the attorneys that indicated that Sharon actively encouraged the Lebanese Forces. (The documents are believed to be a secret appendix to the final report of the Kahan Commission.) Israeli Defense Forces also oversaw and assisted in the interrogation of nearly 1000 Palestinian men after the massacre who were never seen or heard from again. www.ccmep.org/hotnews/belgian113001.html]   For more on the suit, see the entry for January 24, 2002.

November 10, 1982   Leonid Brezhnev dies; he is replaced by Yuri Andropov as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [Andropov tried to arrange a negotiated peace in Afghanistan with the United Nations. The Reagan administration was monumentally distrustful, and pressured the Pakistanis to escalate the conflict. The Soviet Union responded with more soldiers, more weapons, and more brutality against the mujaheddin.]

October 23, 1983    Blowback to USA for Sabra and Shatilla: A suicide truck loaded with explosives crashes into the US Marine barracks outside Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 United States Marines and severely injuring dozens more. This is the highest loss of Marines in a single day since Iwo Jima.

September 20, 1984    Further Blowback: The Islamic Jihad sends another explosive-loaded truck to bomb the US Embassy in Beirut on a day when the US and British ambassadors are meeting there. This time guards kill the suicide bomber before he can slam into the Embassy; fourteen people die.

November 1984    The US restores diplomatic relations with Iraq (broken since 1967) despite Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops. [President George H. W. Bush and others in the National Security Planning Group had been active in a project to help Iraq build an oil pipeline to the Jordanian port of Aqaba in reaction to the Iranian blockade of Iraq's Persian Gulf ports. The Reagan Administration had secretly allowed Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer howitzers, Huey helicopters, bombs and other weapons of US manufacture to Iraq. Waas, Murray and Craig Unger "In the Loop: Bush's Secret Mission, The New Yorker, November 2, 1992, p 70.]

March 8, 1985    Retribution for Marine Barracks Massacre in Beirut: A car loaded with explosives plows into a Beirut slum area that includes the compound of Sheikh Mohammed Fadlallah, the head of Hizbollah, the Party of God. The Sheikh escapes injury, but a city block is destroyed with at least 90 people buried in the rubble. [William Casey, the head of Reagan's CIA, had contracted the job out to Saudi intelligence. Friedman, Robert I., "The CIA and the Sheik", The Village Voice, March 30, 1993.]

March 11, 1985    Mikhail Gorbachev is elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union following the death of the geriatric Konstantin Chernenko. [In April the party agreed to his program of perestroika, or restructuring of the soviet system of government. Gorbachev again approached the UN to broker a way for the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan without leaving the nation in jeopardy. The United States refused to countenance any of these proposals and further escalated the support for the mujaheddin. Some of the bloodiest years of the Russo-Afghan war followed.]

July 1985    Stingers: The CIA begins supplying some of the closely-held Stingers to Pakistan's ISI, largely due to the lobbying efforts of Representative Charles Wilson (D-TX). [These highly effective heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles turned the tide of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. With their kill rate of 75%, the skies were soon clear of Soviet and Afghan aircraft, enabling the guerrillas to trap the government forces inside a few cities and military camps. "We were handing them out like lollipops," a US intelligence official told the Washington Post. Many Stingers quickly reached the black market where a weapon that cost the US $35,000 fetched a price of $100,000 to $300,000. Some were bought by the Chechens for their war against Moscow; others went to the Azeris for the struggle for Nagorno-Karabakh. It is estimated that 30-70 Stingers were acquired by Osama bin Laden. Cooley, pp. 109, 172-174; Goodwin, Jan, Caught in the Crossfire (1987), pp. 48-49.]

April 5, 1986    American Military Deaths in Germany:  A bomb explodes in the La Belle Club, a West Berlin discotheque frequented by American service men. Three people are killed and 200 injured. [Libya and its leader, Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, were immediately blamed without evidence. A German documentary aired on August 25, 1998 (during the trial of five defendants for their alleged involvement in the attack on La Belle) declared that the lead defendant, Libyan Yasser Chraidi, was probably innocent and was being used as a scapegoat by the CIA and the German BND. Several of the suspects were shielded from court appearances by western intelligence agencies; one of these suspects was Mohammed Amairi, a Mossad agent. The documentary implied that the La Belle incident was a carefully prepared provocation designed to implicate Libya.] www.wsws.org/news/1998/aug/bomb1-a27.shmtl

April 15, 1986    Retribution against Libya:  President Ronald Reagan sends US planes to bomb the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in retribution for the terrorist attack (by unknown perpetrators) on the La Belle Club, ten days earlier. Thirty-one people are killed, including Colonel Qaddafi's adopted baby girl. His home, the French Embassy and many homes in an affluent neighborhood of Benghazi are destroyed. [Qaddafi was not at home that night. There was no declaration of war and no prior approval of the US Congress for these air raids.]

March 1987    Hekmatyar's mujaheddin cross the Amu Darya River and launch rocket attacks against villages in the USSR's republic of Tajikistan in an operation promoted by CIA chief William Casey. Casey also gives increased support to the ISI program to recruit radical Muslims, especially Arabs, to come to Pakistan to fight with the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. [General Zia wanted to make Pakistan the center of the Muslim world, the Reagan administration wanted to demonstrate that the entire Muslim world opposed the USSR, and the Saudis were happy to get rid of their dissidents. None of these principals foresaw the blowback that has resulted. Rashid, p. 129.]

March 16, 1988   The Iraqi Air Force bombs the city of Jalaba in northen Iraq with poison gas, killing over 5000 civilians.  [The day before the Iranian army with the help of the two major Kurdish opposition parties had captured the city. Slugett, p. 279.]

April 1988    Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev announces that a phased withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan will begin May 15th, to be completed by 2-15-1989.

July 3, 1988    US Shoots Down Iranian Commercial Plane:  The USS Vincennes fires two missiles, shooting down the regularly scheduled Iran Air Flight 655 over Hangam Island in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 passengers and crew. Over 60 of the victims were children. Several US ships were in the area to protect tankers bringing oil to the west from Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war. The gung-ho captain of the Vincennes, eager for an engagement with the Iranian gunboats that were routinely harassing the tankers, took his ship into the area against orders. He was actually within Iranian territorial waters when his $400 million Aegis computer system mistook the Iran Air plane for a much smaller F-14 fighter plane and fired two missiles. Iranian radio railed that the skies would "rain blood" on America in retribution.

The Pentagon went into instant cover-up mode for this "tragic accident." They said the commercial plane was outside its air corridor, was descending onto the Vincennes, and failing to respond to the "Identify: Friend or Foe?" query. Captain Rogers denied that he had been within Iranian territorial waters and claimed that his ship was rushing to the defense of merchant ship Stovall which was under attack. It was proven, however, that the commercial plane was at the center of its corridor and climbing. There was no ship named Stovall; radio messages regarding it were part of a sting operation designed to lure out Iranian gunboats. The Pentagon was fully aware of the true facts by July 14 when Vice President Bush defended the US before the UN Security Council. Without acknowledging liability the United States later paid nearly $3 million to non-Iranian relatives of Flight 655's passengers. (Iranians were excluded because Iran had filed a claim against the United States in international court.) The Supreme Court upheld a lower court's dismissal of a law suit by the families, saying that neither the government nor the contractors of the Aegis system can be sued for negligence by the military in wartime: "There can be no doubt that during the 'tanker war' a 'time of war' existed." Newsweek, July 13, 1992; Liability Week, June 14, 1993.]

August 17, 1988    The mysterious plane crash of a Pakistan Air Force C-130 kills General Zia, General Akhtar Abdel Rahman Khan (the former head of ISI and Zia's most probable successor), US Ambassador Arnold Raphel, US Brigadier General Herbert Wassom (defense attaché in Islamabad), eight Pakistani generals and the air crew. [The party had been viewing the test demonstration of a tank the Pentagon was hoping to sell to Pakistan. The plane dove and struck the ground shortly after takeoff. The Pakistani board of inquiry came to the (unpublished) conclusion that the pilot and crew had been knocked out by a chemical agent, such as a fast-working nerve gas, colorless and odorless, that had been secreted on the plane in some small container such as a thermos or soft drink can. The exact agent was never determined since the authorities at the military hospital were ordered not to perform autopsies Zia had survived six previous attempts at assassination, including a missile fired at his plane. His enemies were myriad---- the Bhutto family, the USSR, India, KHAD (the Afghan KGB), and elements of the Pakistani military. Mohammed Yousaf points out that only the CIA and KGB had access to such a nerve poison. For geopolitical reasons at least, the United States engaged in a coverup of the deaths of two high ranking American officials. A US air force inquiry (and Raphel's divorced wife, Robin Raphel, later Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Ambassador to Tunis) maintained that the plane had a faulty hydraulic system.

The retired head of ISI's Afghanistan bureau believes that the US was not sorry to see Zia go. With the war winding down, the US was hoping to curb the power of the Afghan Islamists such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani and install a more moderate group of Afghanis (waiting in the wings in Peshawar) into any new government in Kabul. General Zia attempted to subvert this maneuvering. He and the ISI also opposed the attempts of the CIA to funnel arms and supplies to the mujaheddin directly, bypassing the ISI. (In 1990 the CIA did take over.) Cooley, pp. 225-226; Mohammed Youssaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap (1992), pp. 8-19.]

December 21, 1988    Blowback over Scotland---- for Iran Air 655?  for the bombing of Libya?:  Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland from Semtex that had been secreted in a cassette recorder. All 259 (or 260?) passengers and crew are killed as well as 11 victims on the ground. [Warning of a bomb threat had been posted in the snack bar of the US Embassy in Moscow, and it is alleged that the US Ambassador to Lebanon and the South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha changed their travel planes to avoid PA 103. US intelligence officers were on the scene within two hours, searching for particular pieces of debris and particular corpses. A local police surgeon has insisted that one body was moved after it had been tagged and another disappeared completely. John Ashton and Ian Ferguson, Cover-Up of Convenience: The Hidden Scandal of Lockerbie. (The traveling public in general was not warned of any possible travel danger.)

Suspicion initially rested on Syria and the PLFP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.) The latter had already bombed two Israel-bound planes in 1970 and 1972. However, attention quickly shifted to Libya and in November 1991 two Libyan airline staff were indicted by the US State Department and the Scottish Crown Office. President Bush apologized to Syria for the "bum rap", Syria signed on as an ally in the war against Iraq, and the last of the western hostages held in Beirut were released. Qaddafi stonewalled for years before giving up the men for a trial at Camp Zeist" in Holland before three Scottish judges. After a prosecution replete with circumstantial inferences and no hard evidence, one man was acquitted and the other, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was convicted.

Ashton and Ferguson further allege that the bombers utilized a Lebanese drug smuggling route that was protected by the CIA in return for their help in freeing the remaining hostages in Beirut. In Frankfurt a suitcase containing the bomb was substituted for one containing heroin. The authors believe that the bombers were the PLFP-GC hired by Iran to avenge the shoot-down of Iran Air 655.

February 15, 1989    The last Soviet soldier crosses the Amu Darya River bridge and leaves Afghanistan on the promised day. [Two million people died during the nine years of the Soviet occupation.  One out of eight Afghans was left dead, and five million Afghans, or one out of three in the population, became refugees in Pakistan and Iran.  The departure of the Soviet army left Najibullah's government weak and unprotected. The Mujaheddin, now under the command of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but still funded by the United States, started shelling all the major cities, killing many thousands of civilians.]

July 25, 1990    Ambassador April Glaspie meets with President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. [According to a transcript released by Iraq in September, she told Hussein that the United States had "no opinion" about his quarrel with Kuwait over its alleged slant oil-drilling into an Iraqi oil reserve, and that it was a longstanding policy of the US not to take sides in Arab boundary disputes. At no time did she warn him not to invade Kuwait or to threaten US retaliation for such a venture. Shibley Telhami pooh-poohs the theory that with this conversation "the United States handed Iraq enough rope to hang itself..." Rather, he says, Hussein anticipated a "forceful" US response, but miscalculated on the reactions of the USSR and the Arab states. Telhami, "Explaining American Behavior in the Gulf Crisis" in Ismael, Gulf War and the New World Order, pp. 161-162.]

August 2, 1990    Iraqi forces invade Kuwait in a ten-hour blitzkrieg and set up a provisional government. [Kuwait had been demanding immediate repayment of its wartime loans to Iraq (which Iraq regarded as an insult to Arab "unity.") Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil by slant-drilling into a field that overlapped the two countries and conspiring with other oil-producing countries to keep prices low. Iraq had considered Kuwait historically to be a part of its Basra province ever since Britain had drawn the "line in the sand" in 1920 to form the Kingdom of Iraq (with a sheikh imported from Mecca.) Iraq now needed a deep-water port for ships that had been ordered from Italy. Sluggett, p. 284.]

August 8, 1990    The first detachments of United States soldiers arrive in Saudi Arabia ostensibly to defend the country against a supposedly imminent invasion from Iraq. Critics point out that Saddam Hussein has no dispute with the Saudis and most of his troops are deployed along the border with Iran. [Ever since FDR's historic meeting in February, 1945 with King Ibn Saud there has been an unwritten agreement that the United States will have access to Saudi Arabia's oil in return for protection of the kingdom from its enemies, external and internal, an arrangement respected by all subsequent presidential administrations. Yergin, Daniel, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power (1991) pp, 403-405; Klare, Michael T., "The Geopolitics of War", The Nation, November 5, 2001.]

September 11, 1990    Addressing a joint session of Congress, President George Bush says: "In the early morning hours of August 2, following negotiations and promises by Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein not to use force, a powerful Iraqi army invaded its trusting and much weaker neighbor, Kuwait. Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then I decided to act to check that aggression."  [Yet, according to a story researched by reporter Jean Heller, experts who examined satellite photos of the area taken on that same day were unable to find evidence of such troop concentration: no tent cities, no congregation of tanks, only a deserted air base and deep deposits of wind-blown sand on all roads leading from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia. In November Commander-in-Chief Bush doubled the number of US troops in Saudi Arabia. St. Petersburg [Fla.] Times, January 6, 1991.]

November 5, 1990    Murder in Manhattan:  Minutes after Rabbi Meir Kahane finishes his speech in a mid-Manhattan hotel, he is shot in the throat and killed by yarmulke-wearing El Sayyid Nosair before scores of eye witnesses. [Kahane was the founder of the Jewish extremist group, the Jewish Defense League, which in the 1980s headed the FBI list of domestic terrorist groups, outranking the Aryan Nation et al.

Nosair was an Egyptian engineer, a devout Muslim, and a devotee of the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman of the El Salaam Mosque in Jersey City. Nosair escaped, but was wounded and captured. In his home the police found bombmaking materials, AK-47 cartridges, a stolen New York license plate and a "hit list" that named a US representative, a former assistant US attorney and two federal judges. Most alarming were some sensitive military documents stolen from Fort Bragg, North Carolina containing military training schedules, locations of Special Forces in the Middle East, a topographical map of Fort Bragg, and US intelligence estimates of Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Despite these finds and his association with Abdel Rahman (known for his rabble-rousing sermons and his terrorist past in Egypt), the New York City chief of detectives quickly declared Nosair to be a "lone gunman.... There was nothing found that would stir your imagination." Nosair was acquitted on the murder charge due to police bungling of the evidence. However, he was given a twenty-two year sentence on weapons charges and sent to Attica State Prison.

At that time, the blind sheikh was an untouchable. Over the objections of the consular official in Khartoum, the Sheikh had been given a visa and a green card despite being listed on the Automated Visa Lookout System as a suspected terrorist. (He had been tried in absentia in Egypt for plotting to overthrow the government and for the 1989 murder of a police officer.) Reeve states that the CIA made the arrangement in hopes of having an informant in the event of an Islamist revolution in Egypt. Meanwhile, he had helped the CIA to funnel money, men and munitions to the mujaheddin in its program to knock out the fragile socialist Afghan state that remained after the Soviet departure. Reeve, p. 60; Village Voice , March 30, 1993.]

November 29, 1990    The UN Security Council votes 12-2 on Resolution 678, authorizing the use of force against Iraq unless it withdraws from Kuwait by January 15th.

January 12, 1991    Thousands of protesters march in European cities in protest against the portending war in the Persian Gulf: 100,000 in Paris, 100,000 in Rome, also London and 70 cities in Germany.

January 12, 1991    War against Iraq: Congress, after an historic debate over whether to give sanctions time to work as opposed to authorizing the use of force, votes to go to war with Iraq, 250-183 (House) and 52-47 (Senate). [Never before has Congress been so divided over a vote for war or "authorization of force." 42% of the House and 47% of the Senate were opposed; whereas for World War II there was one dissenting vote and in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin, 8 and 2 dissenting votes respectively.]

January 15, 1991    24-hour vigils are held in cities throughout the United States to protest against the US attack on Iraq.

January 16, 1991    Operation Desert Storm begins as the US-led allied forces start the Persian Gulf War with an air offensive against Iraqi installations in Iraq and Kuwait.

January 26, 1991    I00,000 march in Washington demanding an end to the war against Iraq, a protest that is ignored by most of the media.

February 24, 1991    The US-led alliance begins the ground war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

February 26, 1991    Its forces virtually surrounded by General Schwartzkopf's "Hail Mary" surprise maneuver, Iraq announces it is withdrawing from Kuwait. Washington says it will continue the war. [Thousands of Iraqi soldiers are buried alive as the US First Mechanized Infantry Division, using plows mounted on tanks and combat earthmovers, seals over the men and equipment in 70 miles of trenches. Los Angeles Times, September 12, 1991. In the final hours of the "Hundred Hour War" American pilots bombed and strafed the lines of defeated Iraqis straggling toward Baghdad. They made comments for reporters such as: "a turkey shoot," "like shooting fish in a barrel" and "they were sitting ducks." These callous remarks made the rounds in the Middle East. American "doves" were horrified by the slaughter; the "hawks" were enraged that the troops had not been allowed to roll on to Bagdad and capture Saddam Hussein. Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1991. A1.]

February 27, 1991    After an even 100 hours of ground war, Bush declares victory over Iraq, says Kuwait is liberated and orders allied combat to cease at midnight. A permanent cease-fire will depend on Iraq's release of all prisoners and Kuwaitis detained in Iraq and compliance with all the UN resolutions on Kuwait including acceptance of responsibility to pay compensation for war damages. [[Three hundred American lives were lost. 25% of the deaths and 15% of the injuries in Operation Desert Storm were due to "friendly fire" ---a rather cynical oxymoron--- which is the highest figure for any US war and is attributed to the inability to identify friendly vehicles in the haze and smoke of the desert. .Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1991. The number of Iraqi casualties will probably never be known, thanks to the unreliability of the Iraqi media and the massive number of desertions. The most-quoted estimate of 100,000 killed in action and 300,000 wounded in action (forced from the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency in May, 1991 by an FOIA inquiry) is disputed by military analyst John G. Heidenrich who, extrapolating from the number of wounded who were captured, postulates a much lower number of less than 10, 000 killed in action and fewer than 1000 civilian deaths. Foreign Policy, Number 90, Spring 1993, pp. 108-125. As of 1996, the US was spending $50 billion a year to maintain a military presence in the Persian Gulf (including the newly-created Fifth Fleet) and to enforce the blockade of Iraq.]

March 16, 1991    The much-quoted story of the 312 premature Kuwaiti babies who died because their incubators were taken away by Iraqi soldiers is declared to be "untrue" and "propaganda" by the director of the Kuwaiti maternity hospital. Los Angeles Times, March 16, 1991, A8.

April, 1991    Osama bin Laden and several of his faithful lieutenants move the operation of Al Qaeda to Khartoum, Sudan. He increases his fortune with shrewd investments in agriculture and banking. Bin Laden directs operations aimed at de-stabilizing the not-sufficiently-Islamic governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. He is particularly incensed that the "infidels" (American soldiers) continue to occupy the "land of the two holy places" (Saudi Arabia). Cooley, pp. 120-121.

May 17, 1991    A Harvard University study estimates that 170,000 Iraqi children will die from disease and malnutrition due to Allied bombing and destruction of the infrastruct— electricity, sewage treatment plants, water, etc. [A much later study estimated that more than half a million Iraqi children had already died as a result of the sanctions against Iraq.]

December 17, 1991   The Soviet Union is dissolved; many of the republics, led by Russia, join together in the CIS. Many others, especially in Central Asia, become independent nations.

January 13, 1992    OIL: Bridas, an Argentinian oil and gas company, is awarded exploration rights in the Yashlar block in eastern Turkmenistan for a 50-50 split of production profits. This energy-rich but landlocked country is happy that a western country is willing to help them capitalize on their new independence from the USSR. [Bridas obtained a lease on the Keimir block in western Turkmenistan the following year, and the company spent US$ 400 million in exploration. Oil was exported from Keimir at the rate of 16,800 barrels a day by 1994, and massive gas reserves were discovered at Yashlar that were more than double the size of Pakistan's gas reserves. On March 16, 1995 Bridas signed an agreement with President Saparmurad Niyazov of Turkmenistan and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan for a feasibility study of a pipeline through Afghanistan to supply energy-starved Pakistan. (Two years earlier Niyazov and his consultant, former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, had tried unsuccessfully to soften Washington's prohibition of a much shorter and more practical pipeline route through Iran.) Rashid, pp. 157-162.]

March 1992    General Abdul Rashid Dostum defects from Najibullah's government, taking his Uzbek militia with him to join forces with Hekmatyar's mujaheddin. (Vijay Prashad dates this as the beginning of the Northern Alliance.) "Forward into the Past", zmag.org.

April 1992    The Mujaheddin enter Kabul. A cease-fire is achieved with Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani of the Jamait-i-Islami recognized as the head of the guerrilla coalition and of the country. Prashad, "Forward into the Past". For the first time in 300 years (with one brief exception) the Pashtuns are not the country's rulers. (Rabbani and his commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, are Tajiks.) The mujaheddin close schools and health clinics. They stop women from working. (Up to this time women constituted 40% of the doctors in Kabul, 70% of the schoolteachers, 60% of Kabul University professors, and 50% of the university students.) Armed groups beat, rape and murder women. Richter, "Revolutionary Afghan Women", zmag.org.

August 1992    The civil war resumes as Hekmatyar and his Hezb-i-Islami fight the Rabbani regime with more civilian casualties. Prashad.

 December 29, 1992    First Blowback in Yemen:  Bombs explode outside the Mohur and Mövenpick hotels in Aden. An Austrian tourist, a hotel worker and several terrorists are killed in the blasts, but no Americans. [The hotels had been chosen as targets with the intent of killing US soldiers who had been staying there on their way to Somalia. (In this same period some Al Qaeda terrorists were apprehended as they were preparing to launch rockets at US planes at the Aden airport; within days the Pentagon eliminated Yemen as a support base for the Somalia operation. Osama gloated about this in his interview with CNN in 1997.)

Several suspects were arrested, but escaped from jail. The army sent a brigade to attempt to arrest the plot's leader, Tariq al-Fadhli, but his mountain fortress proved to be impregnable. Tariq was a sheik from one of the most prominent families of South Yemen whose properties and prosperous cotton business were confiscated when the Marxists came to power in 1967. Raised thereafter in Saudi Arabia, he went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, returning to Yemen with funds from bin Laden and instructions to overthrow the socialist government of South Yemen. During the civil war of 1994 he fou ght on the side of the victorious President Salih, had the family properties restored to him, and was given a seat on the consultative council of the new national unification government. His lieutenant in the bombings, another Afghan Arab, was Jamal al-Nahdi who is today a prosperous businessman and a high official in the country's ruling party. Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 172-174; Reeve, The New Jackals, p. 182; www.al-bab.com/yemen/data/incident94.htm; www.al-bab.com/yemen/data/laden.htm; Brian Whitaker, "Hostage to fortune and Yemeni guns," Guardian (UK), December 30, 1998.]

Last updated: January 15, 2003.

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