Early and Middle Ages
About 4000 years ago, Indo-Aryans settled in the Afghan region, which was part of the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids from the 6th century BC. Alexander the Great conquered the region in 329. A few decades after the beginning of the Christian era, the Buddhist Kushana immigrated from China and brought part of what is now Afghanistan under their rule by establishing the Kushan empire. From the middle of the 5th century AD the Persian Sassanids ruled. In the middle of the 7th century they had to surrender to the attacks by the Arabs, who quickly Islamized the country and penetrated to the Indus.
It was only after three hundred years that the Muslim Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni managed to establish an independent empire again: the empire of the Ghasnavids. The West was lost to the Seljuks in the 11th century, the South to the Ghurids in the 12th century. For the next 300 years, Afghanistan belong to various Mongolian empires. The West was ruled by Persian Safavids from the 16th century, the East was claimed equally by Persia and the Mughal Empire, and the North was ruled by Uzbek Shaybani.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Afghanistan. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Afghanistan flags.
The 18th century
At the beginning of the 18th century, Afghan tribes rose up against the Safavids. In 1747 Ahmed Schah Durrani took over the independent Afghan emirate and founded the Afghan national history. The Durrani dynasty remained in power until the 20th century. From Kandahar, later from Kabul, the emirate formed a unified state until 1810. It then disintegrated into individual khanates with the death of Mahmoud Shah and in the 19th century became a subject of dispute between Russia, which sought direct access to the sea, and Great Britain, which wanted to expand its possession in India. Baluchistan and Sind had become independent as early as the late 18th century, and Kashmir and the Punjab were lost in the first half of the 19th century.
In 1842 the new ruler Dost Mohammed Khan assumed the title of Emir of Kabul. According to AbbreviationFinder, the confrontation between the two hegemonic powers, Russia and Great Britain, presented an ambivalent situation: on the one hand, it always meant wars on Afghan territory, on the other hand, the conflict prevented Afghanistan from being conquered by one of the countries in the 19th century.
In two wars against Afghanistan, the British tried unsuccessfully to establish their dominance in 1839-42 and 1878-79. Military considerations at the end of the 19th century determined the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are roughly the same as today and are still controversial. When Great Britain sought a decision in a third war, the Afghans were able to assert themselves under the later King Emir Amanullah and gained full independence in 1921. The new king’s internal reforms and economic and cultural endeavors were prevented by religious fanatics for a few years as early as the late 1920s, until a cautious continuation of reform efforts under Nadir Shah and his descendants was initiated in 1932.
1953 to 1979
In 1953 a relative of Nadir Shah’s son became the new head of government in Afghanistan. With dictatorial rule, he succeeded in further modernizing the country between the global political blocs of the USA and the Soviet Union in the following ten years. In 1963, democratic efforts were strengthened by the replacement of the head of government, who for the first time did not belong to the royal family. In 1964, King Sahir Shah proclaimed a new constitution that denied the royal members any political say, and in 1965 a parliament was elected in free elections.
In 1973, after political unrest, the military coup led by Mohammed Daud Khan (who had been the country’s prime minister from 1953-63). Daud Khan established an authoritarian regime and declared Afghanistan a republic. Five years later, he lost his life in an attempted coup. As leader of a revolutionary council, only Mohammed Taraki took power, overruled the constitution and acted with great brutality against any opposition. At the same time, he carried out a land reform and signed a friendship contract with the Soviet Union. In the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, groups of Muslim resistance fighters formed who called themselves “God’s Fighters”, Mujahedin. Taraki then had numerous mountain villages bombed.
Intervention of the Soviet Union
In 1979, Taraki was overthrown by his foreign minister, Hafisollah Amin, whose pro-western course resulted in Soviet troops marching in and killing Hafisollah Amin in late December 1979. The communist Babrak Karmal was appointed as the new head of state.
In the following years, millions of people fled across the mountains to Iran and Pakistan. The mujahideen, supported by the West, put up bitter resistance to the Soviet troops, an estimated 1.5 million people were killed in the civil war, 1.7 million were injured by mines. The clashes continued even under Karmal’s successor, Mohammed Najibullah (from 1986). Just under ten years after the intervention, in early 1989, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan, but the fighting between the Mujahideen and government forces continued unabated.
In April 1992, the Mujahideen associations under Ahmed Shah Massud managed to invade Kabul and overthrow the Najibullah communist government. The civil was was declared over. A transitional government made up of fundamentalists, moderates and traditionalists introduced Islamic jurisprudence.
After the common enemy was overcome, the inconsistent Mujahideen movement broke up into smaller groups that fought each other. In 1994 the radical Muslim Taliban militias intervened in the clashes. In 1996 they controlled two thirds of Afghanistan and Kabul and began to build a strictly Islamic state in the regions they control. According to Sharia, the Islamic moral law, a ban on working and training for girls and women was issued (1997).
In October 1997 the Taliban proclaimed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. A possible expansion of the internal conflict was prevented in 1998 by UN mediation. In 1999, when multimillionaire Osama Bin Laden, who lived in Afghanistan, admitted to participating in a bomb attack on the US embassy in Nairobi that killed 253 and injured over 5,000, the United States imposed sanctions on the country a few months later Sanctions by the UN followed, and shortly afterwards Pakistan declared that it had stopped providing financial and military support to the Taliban. The country also came into conflict with Russia, which accused the Afghan government of providing military support for the rebels in Chechnya.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the Taliban government, which controlled about 90% of the country’s territory, was not recognized by any country in the world except for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Taliban government strictly rejected offers of negotiations made by the Afghan government in exile in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe. In order to improve the poor situation of the civilian population, which was additionally affected by the aftermath of the worst drought in 30 years, extensive food supplies were brought into the country. In early 2001, the Taliban government had monumental Buddha statues blown up in Bamian in order to reinforce the Islamic postulate that the image of God is devoid of image. This action met with worldwide outrage.
After a series of attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 (including the destruction of the World Trade Center with thousands of casualties), the US government again urged the Taliban to extradite Osama Bin Laden, who was suspected of being the mastermind. However, the Taliban government said Bin Laden was out of their reach. The United States and its NATO allies then attacked Afghanistan in October 2001. After the Taliban government was evicted from Kabul and Kandahar, a transitional government was sworn in in December 2001 and an international peacekeeping force (ISAF) was stationed.(The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a NATO-led security and reconstruction mission in Afghanistan.) In June 2002, transition premier Hamid Karzai was appointed interim president;
The Islamic Republic
In January 2004, the Loya Jirga passed a new constitution that provides for a presidential system with a strong position for the head of state. Afghanistan is therefore an “Islamic Republic”, the state religion is Islam. Hamid Karzai was confirmed by regular elections in October 2004. The first parliamentary election took place on September 18, 2005. For fear of Taliban attacks, the turnout in this first parliamentary election was only around 54%. The presidential election in August 2009 was overshadowed by numerous irregularities. Due to allegations of fraud, the election complaints commission invalidated hundreds of thousands of votes and scheduled a casting vote between Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. However, the latter declared his waiver of the casting vote, since he considered the proper implementation to be unsecured. Karzai was then declared the election winner.
From 2006, the situation deteriorated again after the initial successes of ISAF troops, terrorist attacks and military clashes increased. To prevent the Taliban from growing stronger, several military offensives were carried out. Further international development aid for the country was agreed. At the end of 2009, the American government decided to massively increase its troops. Bloody attacks occurred during the 2010 parliamentary elections. In 2013, about a hundred thousand ISAF soldiers were in the country to ensure political stability. The state continues to find no means to combat the growing opium cultivation.