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Afghanistan for Dummies

  • 17-08-2021 6:58pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,061 ✭✭✭ The Mighty Quinn

    I know there's already a thread on Afghanistan that's chugging away, but for people like me who are a little lost on the conflict, wondering if we could have a separate thread to kinda discuss the background to it?

    My understanding... and probably very flawed....

    Taliban formed as a militant Islamic group to fight the Russians in Afghanistan in the early 90s? Al-Qaeda formed by Osama bin Laden et al in the late 80s... to fight the Russians? One or both of them trained, armed, funded by the US?

    Afghan civil war something something 1996-2001 saw the Taliban rule the country.... Taliban sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda terror attacks in America... America over to Afghanistan to dismantle them... and Taliban..... 20 years... something something.

    Finding it very very difficult to find some kind of neat summary - difficult to summarise i'm sure - to give me a clear picture of why things are how they are. Why did Al-Qaeda turn on the US if they were helped by them earlier on, what happened there.... are Al-Qaeda a threat again, what does that mean, how does that look?

    All informed responses welcome, I'm a muddle!



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭ dudley72

    You forgot drugs, all anyone is interested in is selling drugs

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,061 ✭✭✭ The Mighty Quinn

    I didn't forget - if drugs are an aspect to it all, I wasn't aware of it! I've heard of the opium poppy in Afghanistan. Are the Afghan's major players in world heroin? Again, I don't know.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,604 ✭✭✭ jmreire

    Google ( your friend.. LOL ) Wikipedia History of Afghanistan. Its all there in nice easy to understand language.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,116 ✭✭✭✭ HeidiHeidi

    Excellent question!!

    Following this thread in the hope of being a small bit educated.....

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,604 ✭✭✭ buried

    This is a great BBC documentary from 2015 about all things related to the wider geo-political disaster scenario mainly involving Afghanistan

    "Lunar South is Solar East" - W. B. Yeats

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  • Registered Users Posts: 30,264 ✭✭✭✭ Gatling

    Generally speaking the Taliban came after the russians ,the Taliban and the mujahadeen who faught the Russians in the early 80's ,

    Most of the current Taliban anyone under 50 didn't fight against the russians they would have been only born or barely walking at the time ,

    The taliban aren't anti drugs they are actually heavily reliant on opium production to fund their war chest,

    Bin Laden's wasn't trained or equipped by the Americans he came with saudi money with a Saudi agenda like several others like himself they also regularly killed afgans that didn't subscribe to their agenda and enforced strict Sharia on the afgans they claimed to be there to help

    Post edited by Gatling on

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Why did Russia (or was it The USSR?) invade Afghanistan?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    They were brought in by an old regime weren't they?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,676 ✭✭✭ Pa ElGrande

    A good source of quick digestible content is the youtube channel CaspianReport. The host Shirvan Neftchi is based in Azerbijan

    Another commentator on the region is Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar who write for the Asia Times.

    Commenting on Ghani’s escape, Abdullah Abdullah did not mince his words: “God will hold him accountable.” Ghani, an anthropologist with a doctorate from Columbia, is one of those classic cases of Global South exiles to the West who “forget” everything that matters about their original lands. 

    Ghani is a Pashtun who acted like an arrogant New Yorker. Or worse, an entitled Pashtun, as he was often demonizing the Taliban, who are overwhelmingly Pashtun, not to mention Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, including their tribal elders.  

    It’s as if Ghani and his Westernized team had never learned from a top source such as the late, great Norwegian social anthropologist Fredrik Barth (check out a sample of his Pashtun studies here).

    Geopolitically, what matters now is how the Taliban have written a whole new script, showing the lands of Islam, as well as the Global South, how to defeat the self-referential, seemingly invincible US/NATO empire.

    The Taliban did it with Islamic faith, infinite patience and force of will fueling roughly 78,000 fighters – 60,000 of them active – many with minimal military training, no backing of any state – unlike Vietnam, which had China and the USSR – no hundreds of billions of dollars from NATO, no trained army, no air force and no state-of-the-art technology.


    Post edited by Pa ElGrande on

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,238 ✭✭✭✭ Donald Trump

    Reminds me of 8th December when all the people go up to Dublin to do their Christmas shopping. First time up seeing the big lights. That's probably a lot of the reason for the background to the situation - uneducated people who've never been able to see or experience anything different are easily brainwashed into a particular way of thinking and it then becomes a way of life for them.

    We should learn from Afghanistan - Never let Leitrim people have guns!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,077 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    Some facts about Afghan society.  i) most afghans can't read, only 1 in 3 women can read, ii) 1 in 10 are opiate users, iii) only 1 in 20 can speak English, iv) most girls marry before age 18, v) Paedophilia with young boys is socially acceptable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,519 ✭✭✭ igCorcaigh

    46% of the population is under 15 years of age.

    There are many ethnic groups including Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbeks, Nuristanis, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch and others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

    A question I've always wondered about how do the deeply religious square their piousness with acceptance of things like drugs etc?

    Do they claim it as a means to an end?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,077 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    It is not like a struggle of two discrete ideologies. It is a vague amorphous collection of war lords who are pro and anti Taliban. The Taliban will say they are against gays but it is common to find Taliban fighters with boy lovers. The Taliban can retort that this is just immoral local warlords but it is clearly the case that there is a lot of social ambivalence towards heroin use and taking boy lovers. You should watch Vice doc on the US troops trying to curb this (Entitled This is what winning looks like). The local elders would one second say they are against these things and then say something else a second later to the contrary. It showed that they are not so bothered and are often not at all pious.

    Post edited by Yellow_Fern on

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

    Will check out the documentary, thanks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,461 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy

    They remain very anti-drugs for their own people however, in desperate need of funds their former leader Mullah Omar decided that since heroin "only harms kafirs" (i.e. those of us who aren't fundamentalist muslims) it was acceptable for Afghan farmers to return to the cultivation of the crop... More detail here:

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,988 ✭✭✭ FileNotFound

    Al Queda turned on the US as soon as the cheques or cash stopped coming.

    Taliban are not Al Queda and have always held some section of the nation despite US presence. The easy take back of the nations shows 2 things:

    1. The US created Gov did not represent the will of the people and its failure to try and defend itself is quite shocking
    2. The Taliban have some or at least more support than the Gov.

    The current leader and co founder of the Taliban has been in Qatar for some time holding discussions with both the UN and US about the future, presumably they knew the Taliban were ready for a quick take over once US troops had withdrew, Also the Taliban were keen to explain they will be more progressive and thus they should be allowed into power.

    Thats just the version I have picked up - no doubt its half wrong or lacking the detail

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,077 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    A 2013 survey found 39% supported suicide bombing and 99% supported Sharia being the national law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,115 ✭✭✭ victor8600

    To help the socialist government there. Simplifying a lot, there was a socialist government in Afghanistan from 1978. It was not very stable at all and the head of the state (Nur Muhammad Taraki) was soon killed by a rival. The Afghan government asked the USSR to intervene to save the socialism, which the USSR very reluctantly did by killing the rival (Amin) and bringing troops to help the government. See

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,461 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy

    From what I've read this rather over-simplifies things as the Taliban's version of Sharia Law would be far more hard-line form (and many Muslims would argue a deliberate misinterpretation) of what the majority of those that follow Islam would recognise i.e. the majority of that 99% would not be in favour of the Taliban version of Sharia...

    I'm no expert but have been reading a lot about Afghanistan's history and the history of the Taliban over the past few days (mostly Wikipedia tbh but some interesting articles being shared by some of the war correspondents on Twitter atm too). In answer to the OP's question, there really doesn't seem to be a "for dummies" guide: the situation in Afghanistan is extremely complex and, from the looks of it, many of those who should have had a good handle on the situation on the ground quite obviously didn't (or were ignored).

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,282 ✭✭✭ Kaybaykwah

    Tell me where they get their army issue sandals. I’m fed up being a loser.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,077 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    Right Sharia is a very broad system and a supporter of Sharia could easily be against extreme aspects but many aspects of Sharia were the law in Afghanistan without the Taliban. It was already an Islamic republic under the Americans. It was already the case that a daughter is only entitled to receive one third of the inheritance of her brother or brothers. In practise they often get nothing. Now the Taliban's version is far worse but varies a lot locally.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,536 ✭✭✭✭ Beechwoodspark

    Just watched that vice documentary “this is what winning looks like”.

    depressing and a dose of reality about how backwards and messed up that country is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

    Have only watched a small bit so far, depressing is right.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

    This 8 year old documentary kind of helps explain why everything fell apart so quick this week

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,116 ✭✭✭✭ HeidiHeidi

    which documentary? one of the ones already referenced, or did you mean to include a link?

    very interesting info from everyone.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭ Peterteanh

    The Vice one mentioned earlier, "This is what winning looks like". It's up on YouTube