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tv   Students of War - The Rise of...  BBC News  September 16, 2021 1:30am-2:01am BST

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seen off the us, nate and their afghan allies. a stunning success for them and another superpower humbled in the streets and fields of afghanistan. but to understand these events and the origins of the taliban, we need to go back to the cold war.
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the bloody aftermath of the soviet occupation set the ground for a new force to emerge. they were really seen as angels, these young angels who had arrived to save the country. on december 27th, 1979, soviet special forces stormed the presidential palace in kabul.
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the president, hafizullah amin, was killed. this was the start of the soviet invasion of afghanistan. the soviets had invaded to shore up the communist government. afghanistan's communists had taken power in a coup in 1978, but opposition to the radical modernisation programme, together with internal communist party squabbling, had resulted in crisis. moscow ran out of patience. after assassinating president amin, soviet forces poured into afghanistan and occupied the major cities.
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this was the first time in the cold war that a regular armed force, tanks, jet fighters, was crossing into another country and occupying it. now, if they had their own jet fighters, at the air force base in bagram and herat, they could have control of the persian gulf and the world's oil supply. afghanistan's soviet installed
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leader, babrak karmal, continued the previous policies. mass education and more freedom for women remained a priority. many saw it as a positive. for many in afghanistan's traditional conservative society, these changes were not welcome, nor the brutal way the government imposed them.
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hundreds of thousands abandoned afghanistan. refugee camps mushroomed along the borders inside pakistan and iran. the camps became a recruiting ground for the mujahideen — the holy warriors.
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in february 1980, president carter's security adviser zbigniew brzezinski visited the refugee camps along the afg han—pakistan border. that land over there is yours. you'll go back to it one day, because yourfight will prevail, and you'll
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have your homes, your mosques back again, because your cause is right and god is on your side. as more and more afghans poured over the border into pakistan, a lot of them did not want to stay in pakistan as refugees, they wanted to go back and fight, but they wanted weapons to go and do it with, and other kinds of assistance. that was an opportunity that president carter took advantage of. the americans knew the local arms industry could never supply the demand for weapons, and with the saudis matching the american contribution dollar for dollar, the mujahideen started to get better equipment. we begin to procure weapons, import them and get them to pakistan, where the pakistani army built the beginning of what grew into an enormous support structure to receive weapons that would come in by sea, move them to the borders, get them to camps, in some
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instances train mujahideen, who would then take the weapons inside afghanistan and attack the soviets. all the weapons that we gave them were made, most of them were made in communist countries, we just bought them from the communists and then sent them into afghanistan. they used polish aks, czechoslovakian aks, hungarian aks, chinese aks, everybody�*s aks, and within a year of beginning the programme, we had armed about 400,000 mujahideen.
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peshawar in pakistan became a centre for the numerous competing mujahideen groups and their international supporters. weapons were pouring in, and the distribution was controlled by the pakistan intelligence service, the isi. the isi gave out bullet per bullet to their favourites. and who were their favourites? but the most ruthless and hardline islamists. this was a way for the pakistani army to really exert its influence
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inside afghanistan, because what they hoped eventually was that the islamists would win and the soviets would leave, and pakistan would have its proxies inside kabul. the mujahideen, with better weapons and knowledge of the terrain, were not an easy force to defeat. the afghan government and the soviets controlled the main cities and communication routes. but vast tracts of the country were beyond their control.
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for four years after the soviet invasion, the war raged on. during this time, much of the afghan army deserted or defected to the mujahideen, but neither side was winning. ismail khan was a mujahideen commander in the north—west of afghanistan.
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in 1985, president ronald reagan decided to expand us aid to the afghan guerrillas. the mujahideen were to be given a sophisticated new weapon — the stinger, a portable land to air missile. meanwhile in moscow, the soviet union had a new leader, mikhail gorbachev prepared to embark on a programme of reforms he hoped would revitalise the soviet union. one of his main aims was to get soviet troops out of afghanistan. gorbachev first replaced karmal with a new leader,
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mohammad najibullah, the hated former head of the secret police. he also agreed to peace talks. the united nations peace talks in geneva began in 1986, aiming to end the war. americans wanted mujahideen involvement. the soviets insisted the communist afghan government remain. the soviets insisted on supporting the afghan communists, which was then president najibullah, and they said they would continue supporting with food and weapons. so the americans had turned around and said, if you're going to do that, we're going to continue supporting the afghan mujahideen. so, ok, you leave and the afghan mujahideen and the afghan communists will continue fighting each other, this was essentially it. so geneva didn't bring peace, there was no illusion about that. geneva was not going to bring peace. it was only a cover basically for the soviets to leave. on february 15th, 1989, the last soviet troops
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left afg ha nista n. the soviets left behind them a country devastated. they had lost 15,000 men, but one million afghans had been killed and over four million wounded. five million had fled the country as refugees. altogether, one quarter of the afghan population was displaced by the war. and the fighting still continued. the mujahideen and the
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communist regime in kabul were locked in stalemate. in 1991, a failed coup in moscow brought about the collapse of the soviet union, and the russians stopped funding their communist proxies in kabul. with the soviet union no more, america stopped supplying arms to the mujahideen. our goals had not been, really, to build a new afghanistan and our own internal debate over what's the future
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of the soviet union affected our strategy towards the afghan resistance. we decided to abandon the afghan resistance. and to focus, really, on recovering the stinger missiles and taking them out of the hands of possible future terrorist attacks. with the us and soviets gone, the field was left open for others to exert their influence. the pakistanis were backing gulbuddin hekmatyar to come into power. the iranians and the indians were backing rabbani and massoud. the un was trying to put together a coalition government with communist elements, as well as mujahideen elements. so everybody was doing their own thing. by 1992, two of the strongest mujahideen parties were closing in on kabul. those coming down from the north were led
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by ahmad shah massoud. his bitter rival gulbuddin hekmatyar was moving up from the south—east. najibullah�*s government collapsed and he took shelter in the united nations compound in the city. on 25th april, 1992, hekmatyar and massoud's men both entered kabul. massoud and hekmatyar now fought for control in the streets of kabul. hekmatyar�*s men were forced out of the city and took up positions in the hills, and started shelling the capital. burhanuddin rabbani was the leader in waiting of the new islamic government.
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there had long been attempts internally to bring about a broad mujahideen coalition, but all efforts had failed. for the next four years, the country was torn apart by inter—factional fighting.
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in kabul, thousands were killed in indiscriminate bombing. with chaos and anarchy across afghanistan, a new force emerged on the scene. radical islamist students known as the taliban joined the fight for control of the country. the taliban came with a very simple message. they said, we will bring peace,
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we will disarm the population, which is exactly what the public wanted — in other words, disarm the warlords. and we will then refer to our elders and we will liberate the country and we will then, we will not take power ourselves, we will call a jirga, which is a tribal council, of all the elders of the country and they will decide who should rule the country. the taliban had been trained in schools or madrassas in pakistan, which had been funded by saudi arabia. they swept into southern afghanistan and took kandahar with little resistance.
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they were really seen as, you know, angels. these young angels who'd arrived to save the country. but any thoughts that the taliban were angelic young idealists soon faded. two more years of vicious fighting followed, including a ten—month bombardment of kabul before the taliban finally took the capital on 27th september, 1996. the taliban couldn't be defeated because they had enormous military support from pakistan, saudi arabia, all the gulf states, and arabs were extremely ruthless, brutal fighters and gave them a whole new dimension, new tactics — a new, you know, kind of weaponry and retrained them. by the time they reached kabul, the leadership of the taliban is saying, we will seize power, we will rule this country.
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their first act as victors was the torture and execution of former communist leader najibullah and his brother, whose bodies were hanged from a lamppost. within 2a hours, the taliban imposed a strict interpretation of islamic law. they banned all women from work, which led to the health service and schools almost completely closing down. they enforced a strict dress code, with head to toe cover for women, and men ordered to grow beards. music and art were banned. thieves had their hands and feet amputated. adulterers were stoned to death. anyone drinking liquor faced the lash. 20 years after the communists had taken power in kabul
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in an armed coup, afghanistan was being run by a group of extreme islamists. just as the soviets had wanted to make afghanistan a bastion of world communism, now the taliban's most extreme arab supporters, al-qaeda, wanted to use the country as a base to launch their internationaljihad.
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the al-qaeda attacks on us soil would soon lead to another great power becoming directly engaged in afghanistan. america, with bombers, special forces, and money, supported the mujahideen groups who had continued to fight the taliban, united as the northern alliance. it took just five weeks of fighting for the alliance to reach kabul. and on 12th november, 2001, they took the city. the taliban and al-qaeda fled to the mountains.
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today, after 20 years of western intervention in afghanistan, countless deaths, and trillions of dollars spent, history has turned full circle. the taliban are back in power. many afghans now fear a dark and uncertain future, while the us and western allies have left the field, humiliated by just a few tens of thousands of modestly armed fighters. afghanistan, so long the site for proxy wars between nations, militias and terrorist groups, faces a new chapter in its turbulent history.
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hello. autumn is now gently, slowly but surely creeping in across the northern hemisphere. 0ur days are getting shorter, but there is still some warmth in the september sunshine, and certainly, it was a good—looking day across a large swathe of the uk on wednesday, although scotland and northern ireland did get lumbered with more in the way of cloud and some outbreaks of rain. we should see some more sunshine here, though, in the next few days. another sign that autumn is upon us is the presence of some early morning mist and fog. the reason it'll be drier for scotland on thursday is high pressure starting to extend up here. it's also the reason that i think we will see some early mist and fog, under the ridge where we've had light winds overnight. the sun, however, should burn that back pretty quickly, and then a lot of fine weather and sunshine to come through. thursday, we lose any early showers in the north—east of scotland.
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temperatures 21 or 22 degrees. through the afternoon, though, more cloud starting to show its hand into northern ireland. that's the forerunner of this weather front that will push into the west of the uk for friday daytime. we move through thursday evening, into the small hours of friday, and we get the rain into northern ireland. it's quite patchy across western scotland. it stays dry across england and wales. a mild enough night, temperatures in double figures, up to 15 in belfast, we get quite a strong southerly wind as this weather front pushes in. it will move its way into the west of the uk, but then it kind of grinds to a halt, actually, for friday. so, because it does that, that means the rain willjust keep on coming for the likes of northern ireland, possibly for the south—west of scotland. later on in the day, some downpours for the south—west of england and for wales. but it's northern ireland stuck under the cloud and with the rain on friday. quite breezy here as well, quite gusty winds at times. big contrast between east and west —
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just mid teens, the temperatures in the west under the rain, we could still see 22, maybe 23 in the sunshine further east. 0ur front will gradually make its way eastwards across the uk through the weekend. for scotland and northern ireland, i think it will bring some patchy cloud, but for england and wales, it does bring the threat of perhaps some quite punchy showers, longer and more persistent outbreaks of rain at times. certainly, saturday looks like it could be quite wet across england and wales. the showers should thin out somewhat for sunday.
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