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Afghanistan, "Terrorism" and Blowback: A Chronology
by
Janette Rainwater, Ph.D.

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May, 1919    The new king of Afghanistan, Amanullah, starts the Third Anglo-Afghan War when the British refuse to acknowledge the complete independence of Afghanistan. [After a month the parties went to the negotiating table. The British were unwilling to engage in another land war after the slaughter of 1914-1918, and the Afghans were suffering from the British air bombardments of Kabul and Jalalabad. Afghanistan got control of its foreign affairs and quickly established relations with the Soviet Union, Iran, Britain, Turkey, Italy and France. The question of the control of the Pashtun tribes living in India was not resolved. Amanullah traveled far more extensively than any king before him. He was particularly intrigued with the reforms that Kemal Ataturk had instituted in Turkey and tried to copy them. Western dress was required in Kabul, and secular education was begun (for girls also.) The veiling and seclusion of women was discouraged, and slavery and forced labor were abolished. A constitution, civil rights, a legislative assembly and a court system were established. He probably tried to do too much too fast, as some tribal chiefs, the religious leaders, and elements of the army rose up against him. He abdicated in 1929, went into exile with his family and, out of anger and sorrow, forbade any of them to ever set foot again in Afghanistan. Nyrop, pp. 41-46.]

1933    King Nadir Shah of Afghanistan is assassinated. His son, Zahir Shah, born 1914, ascends to the throne. However, the country is basically governed by two uncles in a regency that lasts thirty years. Griffin, Michael, Reaping the Whirlwind (2001), p. 88; Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars (1999), pp. 10-11.

1947    The British withdraw from India. As a result, the Afghani government revives its old claims to land now in Pakistan and extending as far as the Arabian Sea. Pakistan rejects all "Pashtunistan" and "Baluchistan" claims. Cooley, p. 10.

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.]

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. [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.] Cooley, pp. 10-11.

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© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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