Afghanistan. Conflict and civil war, 1979-current
Conflict: Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, civil war, ‘war on terrorism’ by the Americans
Type of conflict: Conflict, civil war, foreign invasion
Parties involved: Northern Alliance, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, NATO, United States and other western countries, surrounding countries
Estimated number of victims: More than 500,000 refugees
For centuries, Afghanistan has had to contend with interference from abroad. Over the past two centuries, the Afghans have faced invasions by the British, the Russians, and an international military force led by the Americans. On top of that, many factions within Afghanistan battle for power using extreme violence. The biggest and most powerful of them is the Islamic group called the Taliban. The power of the government, chosen through elections, is limited, and an international military force is trying to restore order. The population finds itself squashed between all those parties. Choosing one party can lead to revenge by another party, but choosing no party can prove costly too. Afghanistan has the highest number of refugees of any country in the world.
The former Soviet Union (Russia) occupies Afghanistan in 1979. In the conflict that follows, the West, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia support the Mujahideen, a loose group of fundamentalist Muslims. After the defeat of the Russians, radical Muslims unite to form the Taliban and seize power in the mid-1990s. They also protect Al-Qaeda, a fundamentalist group that carries out attacks all over the world against the ‘West’. The bloodiest attack occurs on 11 September 2001 in New York, when two aircraft crash into the city’s tallest buildings, the Twin Towers. In retaliation, the Americans invade Afghanistan. Since then, the Afghan government and the international military force have been jointly fighting the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other rebel groups. Peace and security are still a long way off.