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The tragedy and valor of Afghan - 6 - Rivalry between superpowers and their allies

Alexander Antonovich Lyakhovsky

The tragedy and valor of Afghan

Change in Afghanistan sparks rivalry between superpowers and their allies

The transformation process in Afghanistan developed in an unfavorable foreign policy environment. Most of the Western countries, their allies in the Muslim world, as well as the PRC from the very beginning took a negative and even hostile position towards events in this country, seeing in them the threat of a sharp change in the balance of power in the region in favor of the Soviet Union.

Initially, the American administration did not have a unified approach to the situation in Afghanistan. The moderate elements, led by Cyrus Vance, called for restraint. The hardliners, led by Z. Brzezinski, warned President Carter that a retreat in that country, especially in light of instability in Iran, would send a signal to US allies in the region that it was "written off" as insignificant for American interests.

Using his strong role in the CIA, Assistant to the US President for National Security Z. Brzezinski took vigorous steps to help the opposition establish a network of camps and bases on Pakistani soil. For this, he met with the leadership of Pakistan.

In May 1978, the US President's National Security Assistant also met with Chinese Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping and reached an understanding on mutual security issues - the agreement concerned Afghanistan. Moreover, Z. Brzezinski managed to push through a special coordinating committee of the National Security Council a number of documents with vague wording, giving grounds for strengthening political and material assistance to the Afghan rebels. He managed to convince the American administration that the Afghan situation provides a valuable political opportunity for the Americans - "the overthrow of the DRA will show the rest of the world, especially the third world, that the Soviet view of the socialist path of history as inevitable is wrong." Assistant to the President of the United States, putting forward such a thesis, could not, of course, then even suppose that in some thirteen years this path will be abandoned not only by Afghanistan, but also by the Soviet Union itself, as well as other countries of Eastern Europe, "having made a socialist choice after the Second World War." However, he himself did a lot to make it a reality.

Representatives of the US Embassy in Kabul in the summer of 1978, in conversations with Afghan officials, explicitly warned that "the predominant orientation of Afghanistan towards the USSR will force the United States to do everything to strengthen its positions in the region both by supporting its allies and by steps to activate the CENTO bloc." ... At the talks between Indian Prime Minister Desai and British Prime Minister Callagen in June, it was emphasized: "The West must find measures to influence the situation in the DRA in the right direction." The British, in particular, proposed to use the levers of economic pressure on Kabul more widely.

Arms supplies for the rebels from China began. I must note that China found itself in the opposition camp because of the repression against the Hazaras, whom Beijing considered to be a kindred people. Hazara settlement areas have traditionally been considered a zone of Chinese influence.

The Pakistani military administration and the Shah’s regime in Iran have taken an openly hostile position towards the government formed by the PDPA. Information came from Tehran that the Iranian leadership considers it extremely important to inflame opposition sentiments in the state apparatus, among the Afghan clergy, in the tribes, and actively use the lack of unity of views among the new leaders in Kabul. At the same time, a special role in the plans of the Iranians was assigned to the Shiites.

During a visit to Iran of the Aga Shahi foreign policy adviser to Iran in May 1978, it was stated that “after the coup on April 27, Afghanistan ceased to be a buffer state, the USSR took another step towards the waters of the Indian Ocean and could both Tehran and Islamabad ”. The sides commented with great caution on NM Taraki's statement that "Afghanistan will support the national liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America." The Shah of Iran expressed support for the need to resolutely confront the "threat of a new dismemberment of Pakistan."

Relations with Pakistan were the most acute. In the military circles of Islamabad during this period, in practical terms, the possibility of direct armed intervention in the events in the DRA with the aim of overthrowing the Taraki government was studied. The Pakistani Armed Forces General Staff even developed a plan to remove the Afghan government from power within four months. In the course of the proposed implementation of this plan, it was recommended to use regular army units to seize Kandahar, with the expectation that the armed opposition will begin to conduct further hostilities.

And the Pakistani leaders, who had previously supported the Afghan anti-government emigration, already at the end of 1978 - beginning of 1979 made attempts to consolidate the opposition forces within the framework of a united "front". The Afghan refugee camps that appeared on the territory of Pakistan began to be actively used as training and supply bases for combat formations of all forces hostile to the PDPA regime. The American special services also stepped up their work with the anti-government opposition in Pakistan.

In January 1979, immediately after Shah M. R. Pahlavi left Iran, US President D. Carter met with Deng Xiaoping to negotiate mutual security. Strengthening of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean began, as well as planning for the establishment of a "rapid deployment force" in Southwest Asia.

In turn, the Soviet Union provided great assistance to the DRA. In December 1978, during NM Taraki's first official visit to Moscow, the Soviet-Afghan Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation was signed. It was to him that the Afghan leaders later referred when they turned to the USSR with requests to bring Soviet troops into the DRA, and specifically to the 4th article: “The High Contracting Parties, acting in the spirit of the traditions of friendship and good-neighborliness, as well as the UN Charter, will consult and with the consent of both sides, take appropriate measures to ensure the security, independence and territorial integrity of both countries.

In the interests of strengthening the defense capability of the High Contracting Parties, they will continue to develop cooperation in the military field on the basis of the relevant agreements concluded between them. "

Soviet leaders at the time were optimistic about the future in Afghanistan. They hoped in his person to have a reliable ally in the south. However, further events developed in a completely different way from what was supposed to be in the Soviet Union, the "revolution" turned into a tragedy for the people...

 Aggravation of disagreements in PDPA

Immediately after the Saur revolution, disagreements in the leadership of the PDPA manifested themselves with renewed vigor. This time, in addition to personal ambitions, they were caused by the difference in assessments of the nature of the events that took place and the use of power, as well as the determination of tactics for further actions. In words, trying to prevent a split, but in reality trying to ensure the priority of the Khalqists, N.M. Taraki and H. Amin achieved the adoption of a special resolution of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the PDPA, which categorically prohibited any factional activity. In practice, this decree was used in the interests of the Khalqist group, and any other statements and proposals were qualified as factional activity and were rejected without any discussion.

From the middle of 1978, on the initiative of H. Amin, the personality cult of NM Taraki began to be implanted, an atmosphere of universal adoration of the "father of the peoples of Afghanistan" was created. Moreover, this was done in such a way as to discredit the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the PDPA, money appeared with the image of N.M. Taraki; they managed to print him on newspaper photographs larger than the rest of the people who were standing next to him; at all meetings, at least five portraits of the leader were hung; museums were set up in the houses where he was born and lived, and so on. Unfortunately for himself, N. M. Taraki believed this, moving more and more away from public affairs. At the same time, real power was increasingly concentrated in the hands of H. Amin, who professed total violence.

At the same time, widespread repressions against the Parchamists began to be carried out in the country, which quickly spread to all strata of Afghan society. Members of the left democratic and liberal organizations and groups, representatives of the intelligentsia, the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, the clergy, and even representatives of the Khalq wing who stood on principled different from Amin's positions were also subjected to physical destruction. Instead of the expected benefit, the revolution brought death to the people, torture, suffering, blood, violence ...

The aggravation of the split in the PDPA had the most destructive effect on the army, leading to persecutions against the opponents of the Taraki-Amin wing and in the armed forces. During the purges, many officers and generals were dismissed from the army, and some were repressed. Those who remained at large were instructed to go underground and strengthen their positions in the armed forces.

Formally, the basis for such actions of H. Amin was the steps taken by B. Karmal after the April coup. When he was appointed deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the DRA, in June 1978 he held a congress of the Parchamists Pagmane, at which a program was developed for them to take power in the country. This, of course, became known to Hafizullah Amin, who took appropriate measures. At the end of June, B. Karmal, who was gradually ousted from power, "agreed" to the post of ambassador to Czechoslovakia. But, leaving for Czechoslovakia, he told his comrades-in-arms that he would return again, but with a red flag in his hands. Then, seven to ten days later, other leaders of Parcham said goodbye to their posts in the government and were appointed ambassadors: N. A. Hyp - to Washington, A. Vakil - to London, Anahita Rotebzad - to Belgrade, M. Baryalai - to Pakistan , M. Najib - to Tehran. For S. Keshtmand, M. Rafi and other “Parcham” activists who remained in Kabul were put under surveillance. In August, a trumped-up case was fabricated on charges of conspiracy against the state of many prominent party leaders, active participants in the April Revolution. They decided to put them to death. And only after repeated appeals of the Soviet side to S.M. Keshtmandu, A. Kadir and M. Rafi were the death penalty replaced with long terms of imprisonment (as it later turned out, during interrogations to S.M. Keshtmand, A. Kadir, other prisoners of Kh. Amin was tortured with electric shocks).

As a result of the "measures" carried out, the personal composition of the party and state bodies of Afghanistan has significantly changed, representatives of the "Khalq" faction began to predominate in them. At the same time, mainly Pashtuns were appointed to leading positions in the state and the army.

The Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee was worried about the course of events in Afghanistan. From Moscow, appeals were transmitted to the Afghan leadership with calls for unity, collegiality in the DRA party and government. Responsible party officials of the Central Committee of the CPSU have repeatedly traveled to Kabul to assist in resolving these issues and conduct conversations with N.M. Taraki and H. Amin. This problem was discussed at the highest level, during the visits of Afghan leaders to Moscow. However, these recommendations and advice were expressed in a very delicate form, so they were far from always and not in everything taken into account by the Afghans, and, to put it bluntly, were simply ignored.

Document (Top Secret) 5

A. N. Kosygin. It seems important to us that in your country you work to expand the social support of the regime, attract the people to your side, and prevent alienation between the government and the people. And finally, the last thing. Not for discussion, but as a wish, I would like to express an idea of ​​the need for a very careful approach to my staff. Personnel need to be protected, to have an individual approach to them. Comprehensively and well deal with each person before hanging any label on them.

N.M. Taraki. Are you talking about officers and generals?

A. N. Kosygin. And about officers, and about generals, and about politicians. But I repeat, I am not saying this for discussion, but only expressing our wish.

N.M. Taraki. In general, we try to treat our staff with care. However, the Herat events showed us that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated into our midst, and we do not hang labels on those who are really with us.

A. N. Kosygin. We do not make any claims against you. We are simply saying that mistakes in personnel policy are very costly. We have experienced it ourselves. We do not interfere in your internal affairs, but we want to express our opinion on the need for a careful attitude to personnel ...

From interviews with Taraki in Moscow, March 1979

N.M. Taraki drew attention to the inadmissibility of repressive measures in the army and L.I.Brezhnev. During a conversation with him in Moscow in March 1979, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, in particular, said: “Of course, everything must be done to ensure that the army is firmly on the side of the revolutionary government, not to regret anything for this. What to do in the current conditions, you know better. I would like to say only one thing. It is important that the commanding staff have a sense of confidence in the strength of their position. One cannot expect much from the army if the command cadres change frequently. This is all the more true if the change of personnel is accompanied by arrests. Indeed, many commanders, seeing how their colleagues are arrested and disappear, themselves begin to feel uncertainty about their future. All this does not mean, of course, that repressive measures should not be taken against those who are against whom there really is serious evidence of the unfaithfulness of the revolutionary government. But this weapon is sharp, and it should be used very carefully ... "

Document (Secret)

“Dear Comrade, Taraki!

... We understand that we are dealing with delicate issues, but we proceed from trusting, comradely relations between our parties.

The first question that I would like to pose concerns the need to create, in the words of V. I. Lenin, a "harmonious and strong organization" of the people's power, based on legality, on a firm rule of law. After all, the central problem for revolutionaries after the conquest of power is to learn how to manage ...

Meanwhile, as far as we know, the construction of the new government did not go beyond the provincial level. In volosts, districts, not to mention villages, and even more so about remote villages, there are no representatives of the people's power. Ordinary people, working people often do not know who to turn to to solve their problems; mullahs, feudal lords, and khans often remain the masters of the situation on the ground. In our opinion, there is an urgent need to create a system of local authorities of different levels, closely connected with the central government and including representatives of workers and national-patriotic forces ...

… It is important now to do everything possible to expand the socio-political base of power, to rally to protect the gains of the revolution of all forces that are objectively interested in democratic transformations. The social base of the revolution must not be allowed to weaken and narrow ... only the expansion of the social support of the party and the people's power can form the basis for a political solution to the problems facing Afghanistan. In this regard, I would like to note ... some administrative and party officials on the ground do not see this task, they do not know how to establish contact with the population, they behave disrespectfully towards local customs and traditions, offend the feelings of believers, unnecessarily demonstrating a critical attitude towards religion, do not treat correctly to national minorities, which, as is known, constitute a significant part of the population of Afghanistan.

Moreover, there are also such officials, including governors, who abuse their position, commit abuse of power, stoop to bribery and extortion.

... We are convinced that the Afghan revolution has already reached the stage when the work of all state bodies must be put on a legal basis, on the basis of a firmly established rule of law ... Many security officials and party activists continue to rely only on their “revolutionary consciousness”. As a result, there is a fairly widespread practice of unjustified repressions, mass arrests, moreover, on the slightest suspicion, on slander, on anonymous denunciations. Apparently, comrade Taraki, many facts of this kind - facts that cause alarm - do not reach you. For example, in Kandahar, 33 participants in a demonstration protesting against the census were shot, and in the city of Tarinkot, in front of residents, 30 rebels laid down their arms. In Khazarajat, members of the detachments of "patriotic citizens" widely resorted to lynching, pogroms and looting. There are many cases when, at the direction of officials, entire settlements are randomly shelled or even burned to the ground ... It is hardly necessary, comrade Taraki, to prove that the repression carried out in this way on a large scale has the opposite effect ... "Parchamists".

We discussed this issue with you last year, and the PDPA leadership then announced its intention to put an end to indiscriminate repressions, including against the "Parchamists", and to involve them in party and state activities. However, this, unfortunately, did not happen.

Comrade Taraki, we have already said many times and want to repeat with all certainty: the practice of mass repressions and violations of generally accepted norms of legal proceedings inflicts enormous moral and political damage to Afghanistan itself, the authority and prestige of the people's power. This is our strong opinion.

... We have to admit that such a fundamental task for the Afghan revolution as stratification and neutralization of the clergy, attracting believers to their side and isolating the forces of counterrevolution from them has not yet been resolved. Moreover, this problem has become more acute. Islam serves as a banner around which the counter-revolution is trying - and sometimes not without success - to rally the masses around itself.

It seems important that the government of the DRA takes a number of effective measures, including of a material nature, aimed at stratifying the Muslim clergy, to attract the lower and middle strata to the side of the revolutionary power, and it is also necessary to say unequivocally about respect for Islamic traditions, freedom of religion and severe punishment of all who try to persecute for religious beliefs and interfere with the performance of religious rites, etc.

... Dear comrade Hyp Muhammad Taraki, we proceed from the assumption that you and your associates will take into account our considerations, treat with understanding the motives that we are guided by. "

From interviews with Taraki, June 1979

However, N.M. Taraki, not accepting the advice of the leadership of the USSR, did not manage to organize the implementation of the necessary measures, and also could not understand the nature of his closest comrade-in-arms, although he received the first warnings about H. Amin from the Soviet leaders in time in 1978. considered him "a faithful and outstanding student and successor," for which he paid with his life. Romantics from the revolution, as a rule, do not stay in power for a long time, although they cause great damage.

During this period, the Soviet Union provided Afghanistan with many-sided assistance and political support. For example, between April 1978 and March 1979, 75 agreements on economic assistance to the DRA were signed in Moscow and Kabul, accompanied by the arrival of 4,500 advisers in Afghanistan. And all this was carried out at the expense of the Soviet Union.


To paragraph 27 of Prot. No. 137

Top secret

Special folder

USSR Council of Ministers

order No. 41-rs dated January 7, 1979 Moscow, Kremlin

In connection with the request of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and in a partial amendment to the order of the Council of Ministers of the USSR dated November 20, 1978 No. 2473 to agree to the attribution of the costs associated with sending Soviet specialists to work in the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan at the expense of the Soviet side ...

The costs associated with the sending of Soviet specialists to Afghanistan in accordance with this decree shall be attributed: in Soviet rubles at the expense of allocations from the State budget for providing gratuitous aid to foreign states, and in foreign currency at the expense of allocations under the GKES currency plan.

Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, A. Kosygin.


Difficult decision to send troops to Afghanistan

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