A U.S. Agenda for an Afghan Peace Settlement

Report Middle East

A U.S. Agenda for an Afghan Peace Settlement

April 4, 1988 22 min read Download Report
Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
James Phillips is a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

(Archived document, may contain errors)

643 I April 4,1988 I. A U.S AGENDA FOR ANAF'GHAN PEACE SETTLEMENT INTRODUCTION The Soviet Union has failed to subjugate Afghanistan, despite a brutal war, of attrition that has claimed more than a million Afghan lives and created five.,:million %Afghan refugees I. While'prosecuting a relentless war against the Afghan people since 1979, Moscow has'been hinting in recent months that it is willing to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. The most 8 important statement was Soviet Communist Party chief Mikhail Gorbachev's February 8 announcement that if a settlement could be reached in the U.N.-sponsored Geneva talks on Afghanistan by March 15, then the ,Soviets could begin a nine-month withdrawal process on May 15 Gorbachev apparentlyhopesthat Washington will help Moscow win favorable terms for the withdrawal of Soviet forces. This seems to bewhat Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was demanding last month in his inconclusive Washington ,talks with Secretary of State George Shultz. In particular, Moscow'wouldlike the United States to press Pakistan to make key concessions. Moscow's goal is to coerce Pakistan into striking a deal over the heads of the Afghan freedom fighters that will preserve a pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, the Afghan capital. e II i 8 1 I 1 I I i Cosmetic Withdrawals. The latest Soviet peace offensive, however, cannot be taken at face value. Despite Gorbachev's soothing rhetoric, Soviet forces continue to fight brutally against the Afghan resistance. Moscow has staged sham "withdrawals" in the past and has ordered cosmetic changesin its Afghan puppet regime to defuse international opposition to its policies This is the tenth Heritage Foundation study on Afghanistan. Previous studies included Buckgrounder No 552 Updating U.S. Strategy for Helping Afghan Freedom Fighters December 22,1986; Backgrounder N0.236 Afghanistan Three Years Later: More U.S. Help Needed De-mber 27,1982; Buckgrounder No.101 Afghanistan: The Soviet Quagmire October 25,1979. a Gorbachev clearly is attempting to salvage, not abandon, the huge Soviet political economic and military investment in subduing Afghanistan. Because of the rising military costs of the war and declining prospects of an outright military solution, Gorbachev is searching for a diplomatic solution that will perpetuate a pro-Soviet regime at the lowest possible cost to Moscow. Unable to eliminate the Afghan resistance through military means, he seeks to isolate it, deprive it of external support, divide it, demoralize it and eventually strangle it in a diplomatic "settlement Excluding the Resistance. Efforts at finding a settlement in Afghanistan have been undertaken by the United Nations for the past five years. These U.N.-sponsored peace talks are seriously flawed because they: 1) exclude the Afghan resistance; 2) fail to address the central issue of the war, Afghan self-determination; 3) propose a drawn-out timetable for Soviet withdrawal which poses unacceptable risks to the resistance; 4) call for suspension of U.S. and other aid to the resistance at the start of the Soviet withdrawal; 5 fail to demand a reciprocal suspension of Soviet aid to Afghan communists; 6) create enormous loopholes; and 7) include weak provisions for verification of compliance The U.S. and Pakistan should not make concrete concessions in return for ill-defined Soviet promises. Washington must not agree to act as guarantor of a Geneva settlement unless the accords guarantee Afghan self-determination and do not become a smoke screen for continued Soviet domination. Given the sordid. record of communist regimes ignoring and betraying the commitments made in 1945 at Yalta regarding Eastern Europe, in 1962 regarding Laos, and in 1973 regarding Vietnam, the U.S. in 1988 cannot give the Soviet Union the benefit of any doubt in Afghanistan c As such, the U.S. should 1) continue sending its military aid to the Afghans until the last Soviet soldier hasexited Afghanistan. The U.S..goal should be to force a totalSoviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a strategic stepping stone to.the Persian Gulf and a geopoliticalelever for influencing and possibly dismembering Iran and Pakistan It is-not the U.S. goal simply to bleed1' the Soviets. This would only prolong the agony of the,Afghans I 2) work for a settlement that creates a neutral Afghanistan, just as the 1955 Austrian 3) not allow Moscow to engineer a settlement that transforms Afghanistan into another State Treaty created today's neutral Austria Lebanon, doomed by a lack of national consensus to chronic civil war. This would give Afghan communists the chance to subdue a splintered resistance. Worse, it could breed instability that invites Soviet re-btervention t THE MILITARY SITUATION Approximately 120,000 Soviet troops, backed up by more than 30,000 support and combat personnel nearby in the Soviet Union, have failed to crush the elusive Afghan rnujahideen or holy warriors. The rnujahideen are estimated at up to 200,000 strong.

Always courageous and indefatigable fighters, in the long course of the war they have been bolstered by more effective organization, bettertraining insome groups, modern arms, and growing foreign support. Gradually there has been improved operational coordination between the seven major resistance groups A llnatural selection" process has produced a class of battle-hardened field commanders whose claim to leadership is based on proven performance rather than traditional or tribal connections? c The mujahideen control more than 80 percent of Afghanistan and are supported by the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people. The Soviets control the major cities, air bases and primary roads. Though the mujahideen harass Soviet supply lines and besiege isolated garrisons, they have been unable to destroy major Soviet bases because of a lack of heavy weapons and mine clearing equipment 1 Indiscriminate Bombing. The Afghans have paid dearly for their fierce resistance. Some 1.24 million Afghans, roughly 9 percent of the prewar population, have been killed in the fighting since the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in a coup in 1978: Most of those killed were civilians slaughtered in indiscriminate Soviet bombing and artillery attacks designed to depopulate. resistance strongholds. Today the Afghans comprise the world's largest refugee group, with roughly 3.5 million displaced The Soviets have suffered an estimated 36,000 casualties, with half of the total killed to Afghans in Pakistan and more than one million in. Iran.

Estimates of the annual economic cost of the war to Moscow range from $5.5 billion P 1 12 billion! These costs have risen steeply in the past two years Forcing Gunships to Fly Low. Last year the mujahideen at last gained an effective air defense due to the arrival of limited numbers of U.S.-supplied Stinger and British-supplied Blowpipe anti-aircraft missiles. By one estimate, 150 Stingers were supplied to the mujahideen in late summer 1986 and 600 in early 1987.7 The Stingers initially scored an impressive 80 percent kill ratio bettering the results of U.S. army field tests The Stingers blunted Soviet air power and air assault commando fdrces-that had been the cutting edge of Soviet counterinsurgency efforts. The Stingers forced Soviet warplanes to drop their bombs from higher altitudes, thus with much less accuracy. The US.-supplied missiles also forced the Soviets' dreaded Mi-24/25 HIND helicopter gunships to fly at low altitude and at night.

By last summer, the Soviets were losing an average of 1.3 to 1.4 aircraft a day. Even after 1 The resistance coalition consists of four fundamentalist groups: the Islamic Society, the Islamic Party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Islamic Party of Mohammed Yunis Khalis and the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan; and three moderate/traditionaliit groups: the National Islamic Front for Afghanistan, the Islamic Revolutionary Movement and the Afghanistan National Liberation Front 2 See Almerigo Grilz Afghanistan: The Guerilla Is Changing MiZitaty Technology, June 1987 3 Survey of the Gallup organization's affiliate in Pakistan, cited by 2 Washingtoh Times, December 9,1987 4 Statement of Vincent CanniStraro, Department of Defense, Before the Asia Subcommittee of the House 5 Strategic Survey 1986-1987, p. 134 6 Nake Kamrany and Leon Poullada, l7ie Potential ofAf

aanistan's Society and Institutions to Resist Soviet 7 Tlte Wmhington Post, July 6,1987, p. A14 Foreign Affairs Committee, February 25,1988 Pertelration and Domination, Modeling Research Group, Los Angeles, 1985 3 cutting back their sorties, the Soviet and Afghan air forces lost about 200 aircraft during the year. by II The Stingers reduced mujahideen casualties and hampered the Soviets' ability to interdict supply caravans from sanctuaries in Pakistan and Iran. Stingers also gave the Afghans an enormous psychological boost, providing tangible proof that the Afghans had significant foreign support and had not been abandoned by the outside world Isolated Outposts. Invigorated by its Stingers, Chinese-supplied rocket launchers, and an improved logistical infrastructure, the mujahideen held the battlefield initiative through much of 19

87. They compelled the Soviets to withdraw from isolated outposts and overwhelmed several Afghan army garrisons8 At the end of the year the mujahideen massed around the besieged Afghan army base at Khost. The Soviets responded by launching the largest winter offensive of the war, eventually lifting the siege.

By this, the Soviets also lifted the sagging morale of the Kabul regime. It strengthened the Soviet bargaining position at the impending Geneva talks by confirming that the Soviets still had the upper hand in the fighting. Finally, it forced the mujahideen to deplete their war supplies at a time when they should be stockpiling supplies as a safeguard against a one-sided settlement that could deprive them of external assistance.

Further mujahideen military gains, however, are possible this year; Newly arrived heavy mortars and mine-clearing equipment will enhance mujahideen ability to attack Soviet and Afghan government bases and airfields. These long-awaited supplies give them for the first time a capability to destroy, rather than merely harass, Soviet fortified positions THE SOVIET STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN Moscow.now finds that it must pay a growing military priceto contain, lepalone defeat the mujahideen. Pouring more troops into Afghanistan would strain what is surely an already overburdened Soviet logistical infrastructure dependent on Afghanistan's rudimentary road system To win the war in Afghanistan, Moscow has tried to make an end run through Pakistan which has offered sanctuary to the mujahideen. Gorbachev buttonholed Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq at the 1985 Moscow funeral of Konstantine Chernenko and warned of dark consequences if Pakistani "aggression" persisted. Gorbachev then launched an escalating war of nerves against Pakistan. The Soviet press has castigated Pakistan as a colonial creation Pakistani separatist and terrorist groups have been armed and trained in base camps inside Afghanistan. The KGB-controlled Afghan secret police, the KHAD, has fomented uprisings among dissident Pushtun tribes straddling the border. Pakistani border towns have suffered increasing numbers of air attacks and cross-border artillery bombardments I 8 See: David Isby 1987: The War Swings in the Afghans' Favor Free Afghanistan Report, JanuaryPebruary 1988 4 The KGB, through the KHAD, has orchestrated one of the largest state-sponsored terrorist campaigns ever mounted, assassinating Afghan exiles and. planting bombs that I have killed Afghans and Pakistanis alike. About 500 people have been killed by terrorist bombs in Pakistan since mid-1987.9 In addition to signalling the Afghans that they cannot escape communist terror, these terrorist bombings are meant to sap Pakistan's willingness to aid the rnujahideen. Moscow and Kabul hope to strike a deal with Islamabad over the heads of the Afghans Najib the Bull. The Soviets have attempted to undermine the political base of support of the rnujahideen within Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan. In May 1986, the Soviets discarded Babrak Karmal, the quisling puppet whom they had installed in December 1979.

They replaced him with the ruthless head of the KHAD, Najib, known as "the Bull." At Soviet prompting he has proclaimed a policy of llnational reconciliation seeking to lure war-weary Afghan political figures into a sham coalition government that the communists control. 'The Bull" has made cosmetic changes in the'Kabu1 regime. He has promulgated a new constitution, changed the national flag and has even changed his own name to Najibullah to pay lip service to his Islamic heritage. Yet he has failed to overcome the revulsion of his countrymen; last November his own brother defected to the rnujahideen The backbone of the regime is the KHAD, which Najibullah is trying to expand from. I 30,000 to 70,000 members. KHAD agents permeate all government bureaucracies. A state within a state, KHAD has its own armed forces, intelligence and. covert action organs, and spearheads the extensive "S vietization" program that seeks to transform Afghan political, I economic and cultural life. 18 8 .I Maintaining Control. The Soviet strategy for Afghanistan is not solely military; it integrates political, coercive, and diplomatic policies with military control. Although the Soviet Union has been unable to crush the rnujahideen militarily, it now hopes to defeat them through diplomacy. It seeks a negotiated settlement that would deprive the rnujahideen of external support while allowing massive Soviekaid to continue to flow to a proSoviet regime in Kabul. It seeks to end outside support for+the resistance .while maintaining effective control over the Afghan government and retaining its options to b intervene covertly or overtly in the future. i I THE SOVIET PEACE OFFENSIVE Gorbachev's latest peace gambit is a continuation of longstanding Soviet policy regarding Afghanistan diplomatic initiatives aimed at defusing international criticism, reducing external support for the rnujahideen, driving wedges between resistance groups, and buying time to crush the resistance. e,arly as-February.1980, less. than two months after their invasion, Soviet officials hinted that Moscow was eager to withdraw, but could not do so until "external intervention" had ceased. In the Soviet view the problem was not the Soviet invasion but resistance to the invasion. Soviet diplomacy consistently has attempted to 9 The Ch~stian Science Monitor, February 16,1988, p.9 10 See: Rad Amin The Sovietization of Afghanistan in Rosanne Klass, Afghanistan: The Great Game Revisited (New York Freedom House, 1987 5 deflect attention from the Soviet presence, reject the legitimacy of the mujahideen, and focus on non-Soviet ''intervention" in internal Afghan affairs. The United Nations General Assembly has made it easier for Moscow to do so by refusing to condemn the Soviet Union by name for invading Afghanistan Gorbachev escalated the peace campaign in a July 28,1986, speech at Vladivostok in which he promised to withdraw six Soviet regiments as a gesture of good faith in the U.N peace process. His announcement came three days before the resumption of the Geneva talks and the "withdrawal" was executed with a flourish in October 1986, shortly before the U.S.-Soviet summit at Reykjavik. The much-heralded event, like a previous "withdrawal staged before the 1980 Moscow Olympics, turned out.to be a propaganda exercise. The units withdrawn, some of which had been introduced into Afghanistan shortly beforehand were replaced by forces more suitably equipped to fight a guerrilla war Pressuring Pakistan. Then this February 8, Gorbachev announced a possible start of a Soviet withdrawal on May 15 if a settlement were reached at Geneva by March

15. As previous Soviet peace offensives, the February 8 state;ment is well timed. By suddenly announcing a date for withdrawal after more than five years of desultory. talks at Geneva Moscow is pressuring Pakistan to accede to the vague wording of the Soviet proposal now on the table. When the March 15 deadline passed without an-agreement, Moscow complained about Pakistani and American footdragging.

By fixing the start of proposed withdrawal at May 15, shortly before the next U.S.-Soviet summit, the Kremlin apparently is confident that the State Department, always eager to make ''progress" at a summit, and the Reagan Administration, eager to make the summit a success in domestic political terms, will acquiesce to an Afghanistan settlement tailored to Soviet needs. C I I I I THE SOVIET.DESIGN FOR A FALSE SETTLEMENT r 1 1 I I Although Western diplomats tend to conceive.the Geneva.talks as a diplomatic endgame the Soviets consider the negotiations to be "the *first move in the next phase of that continuing game."12 Moscow is not merely seeking an exit. After all, the Soviet Union could withdraw its troops without an agreement. Instead, the Soviets want the U.S. and Pakistan to help create conditions in which Moscow can withdraw its overt military presence after "winning while using its covert KGB/I(HAD network to retain control over the government left behind. Warns a Western diplomat based in Kabul The Soviets want I you by diplomatic means to help them stay in Afghdstan Beware of a kind of Munich."13 Above all the Soviets seek an.agre&ement,that seals the Pakistani border- and thus terminates foreign aid to the mujuhideen, while leaving Moscow a free hand to bolster the Kabul government with aid and advisors. A cutoff of external aid would undermine the rnujahideen's political unity and military strength. It would weaken the seven political 11 State Department Special Report No. 155, "Afghanistan: Sevqn Years of Soviet Occupation December 12 Marin Strmecki Gorbachev's New Strategy in Afghanistan Wutegic Review, Summer 1987, p. 33 13 Cited by My Weymouth, "Tough Talk From Najibullah 77ae Wushiiigtoii Post, January 17,1988, p. C2 1986, p. 10 6 parties based in Peshawar, Pakistan, that have served as conduits for aid, would increase the political independence of regional field commanders inside .Afghanistan and would make it easier for Moscow to win through divide-and-rule tactics Najibullah already has appealed by name to eight rnujahideen field commanders, offering to pull Soviet troops out of their sectors if they agree to a separate peace.14 Covert KGB/KHAD operations undoubtedly will be mounteh to fan the flames of suspicion between rival resistance groups. The February 11,1988, assassination in Peshawar of Professor S.B. Majrooh, a respected figure who worked tirelessly to promote Afghan unity may have signalled the start of a campaign of assassinations to decapitate and fracture the resistance Lebanonizing" Afghanistan. Moscow presumably is reckoning that a splintered resistance weakened by internal infighting and an aid !cutoff would be unable to defeat decisively the Soviet-backed communist regime that controls the city-state of Kabul, but not much else. Moscow may attempt to enhance the survjvability of a pro-Soviet "Kabulistan by replacing Najibullah with an Afghan military figure similar to Polish General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who would head a relatively non-ideologi

Moscow meanwhile will continue attempting to integrate northern Afghanistan into a Soviet economic and political sphere. Soviet influence is strongest in the north because the relatively flat terrain is ill-suited for guerilla warfare, a disproportionate number of the 2,000 Afghan children taken each year to the Soviet Union for "education" come from this area and many of the Soviet advisers sta ioned there are members. of the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic groups that straddle the border. c d I 9 Northern Soviet Security Zone. The Soviets are grooming aaortliern militia commander Sayed Naseem Shah, as a regional leader who may be.able.to survive eventif the. Kabul regime collapses. In that event, Moscow may try to construct a northern security zone manned by local militias backed by long-range Soviet 'artillery and air. power. Soviet military forces then could be inserted into Afghanistan covertly to stiffen the spine of pro-Soviet forces. There is a precedent for such a covert intervention: in 1929 Soviet troops disguised as Afghans were deployed to aid King Ammanallah.16 FLAWS IN THE GENEVA DRAFT ACCORD Since June 1982 indirect peace talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan have-been held in Geneva under United Nations auspices. These talks have produced a framework for an agreement based on four "instruments 1 non-interference" in Afghan and Pakistani internal affairs; 2) international guarantees of the bilateral agreement; 3) the safe and 14 Tltc New York lintes, December 1,1987, p. An 15 See: Afghan News, Bulletin of Jamiat Islami, September 1,1987, and Elie Krakowski Afghanistan and 16 See: Thomas Hammond, Red Flag OverAfghanistan (Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1984) pp. 1418.

Soviet Global Interests in Mass, op. cit.honorable return of Afghan refugees; and 4 interrelationships" specifying the linkage A between the first three instruments and Soviet withdrawal Nearly five years ago, U.N. mediator Diego Cordovkz of Ecuador proclaimed that the draft agreement was "95 percent complete. Little progress was made after that as Moscow refused to speci

a time frame for Soviet withdrawal This might have been changed by Gorbachev's February 8 offer to begin Soviet withdrawal by May 15, yet it is still to early to tell Ignoring Self-Determination. The most glaring flaw in the Geneva draft accord is that the Afghan resistance has been barred from the nego!iations. Yet if Geneva does not address Afghan concerns, Geneva cannot end the war. The mujahideen will continue to fight the Afghan communists during any Soviet withdrawal, just as they fought them before the Soviet invasion. Moscow may use this as a pretext to halt its pullout or to intervene at a future date. If Moscow wants a cease fire during its proposed withdrawal, then it should talk directly to the resistance.

The central issue of Afghan self-determination is ignored in the Geneva draft. In fact the agreement favors the current communist regime by affording it tacit recognition denying the mujahideen any political status, and ignoring the legitimacy of. the resistance.

By failing to link Soviet military disengagement to a political settlement, Geneva enables Moscow to retain control of the Afghan government Moreover; the.absence of agreement on a transitional Afghan government gives Moscow the opportunity to play one mujahideen group against another. Political, ideological, and personal rivalries long submerged by common hostility to the Soviets will emerge as the Soviets lower their profile Wearing Down the Resistance. Pakistan's justifiable concern is that by ignoring Afghan self-determination, the Geneva draft would perpetuate the kind of turmoil in Afghanistan that would discourage the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. Already, Pakistan's economy and social fabric are strained from hosting.almost four million Afghan refugees with their three million head of livestock. They compete with Pakistanis for scarce water grazing rights, firewood, and jobs.17 Pakistan's President Zia, who served .as an adviser to the Royal Jordanian Army during the 1970 "Black September civil war with the Palestine Liberation Organization, is acutely aware that the highly politicized Afghan refugee community could become a volatile destabilizing f0rc.e within Pakistan, particularly if it sensed a diplomatic sellout 5 8 Another major weakness of the Geneva draft accord is the one-sided prohibition of external assistance. Aid to the mujahideen from the West, China, and the Muslim world is slated to stop at the outset of the Soviet Union's withdrawal no matter how leisurely the pace of theSoviet departure may.,be. This would give Moscow a chance.to.wear do- the resistance. Moscow, moreover, claims the right to continue to aid Afghan communists even after a withdrawal. This puts the mujahideen at a disadvantage and partially negates their hard-won gains on the battlefield I 17 See: Tom Rogers Afghan Refugees and the Stability of Pakistan Survival, September-October 1987.

A Pentagon study concludes that the Soviets could withdraw within 30 to 40 days based withdraw within three to four months. Yet the Soviets demand nine months for their pullout, enough time to batter the mujahideen, deplete their supply stockpiles, and provoke friction between rival mujahideen groups by selectively attacking certain groups and offering others a tacit cease fire. The KHAD, which i's believed to have penetrated some resistance groups, would have ample time to find and 'destroy secret arms caches strictly on logistical considerations. The.Geneva+proposals .assume' that Moscow-would b Elastic View of Self-Defense Although Soviet officials have promised to fight only in self-defense and to front-load the pullout by recalling half of its forces in the first three months, such pledges are of questionable value. The Soviet Union has taken an extremely elastic view of self-defense, as the devastating attack on Korean airliner KAL 007 confirmed. Furthermore most of the Soviet offensive operations are performed by the airborne, air assault, and s etsnhz (special forces who comprise less than 20'percent of the Soviet occupation force?'Such units might also be assisted by air and comando units stationed on the Soviet side of the border To make matters worse, the Geneva accords are vague on whether Soviet military and political advisors can remain in Afghanistan. The 'kecond army the 9,000 strong contingent of Soviet and East Bloc advisers that currently dominates the .Afghan government is an important lever of control that can.qot.be permitted to remain. It also is suspected that the giant military infrastructure that the Soviets have established-would be.turned over to the Kabul regime and would not be,dismantled. Left unanswered too are.such important issues I as the return of Afghan children taken to the Soviet Union and the payment of war reparations. A particularly important question is the status of the more than 300 treaties that Moscow has signed with Kabul. If allowed to stand, the Soviets would have a "legal pretext to remain involved at the 5-equest" of the com:munist regime verification provisions. Afterdl Moscow alreadythas ,staged two false withdrawals. The False Withdrawals. Any Afghan peace settlement must have strong and effective s Soviets could disguise their annual May rotation of.troops, which normallyinvolves I one-fourth to one-third of the Soviet forces in Afghdstan,, as the beginning of a pullout.

Yet as soon as the world's attention strayed and the U.S. was distracted by its presidential election campaign, Moscow could halt the withdrawal and continue the war more covertly assuming that Washington would lack the will to respond to violations of the agreement just as it failed to respond to violations in Laos and Vietnam. Moscow already seems to have prepared to undermine the accords. In fact there are reports that Soviet personnel of Central Asian descent operate within the Afghan armed forces in Afghan uniforms. l9 This indicates that the Soviets will'seek to maintain a covert military presence after a withdrawal The Geneva draft agreement reportedly provides for only 50 observers to verify Soviet complianceJhis is far to fe.w and they probably will have far too limited powers 18 Statement of Alexander Alexiev before the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan, February 18,1988 19 Statement of Rosanne Klass before the Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the House Foreign I Affairs Committee, February 17,1988 9 UNITED STATES POLICY I,.

The U.S. must not be stampeded into a quick fix solution that allows Moscow to prop up the Kabul regime while weakening the rnujahideen. The Soviet Union was wrong when it invaded in 1979 and its occupation remains unacceptable today. It should not be allowed to extract strategic advantages in return for vague promibes to.reduce its illegitimate presence.

Washington probably must help the Soviet Union leave Afghanistan, but should do so only in a manner that: 1) ends the fighting 2) insures that the Soviets do not return at a later date and 3) insures that the rnujahideen are not left vulnerable to attack if a negotiated settlement unravels I A genuine settlement must Assure Afghan Self-Determination I There can be no true peace in Afghanistan until the puppet communist government is replaced by a legitimate government enjoying popular support. The central issue of Afghan self-determination must be explicitly guaranteed through the formation of aninterim government that will hold elections. The KGB/KHAD coercive apparatus must be I I dismantled I I I .I sr I Warns rnujahideen leader Abdul Haq What is important is not that the Soviets leave but what they leave behind It is for this reason that Pakistan, seeking a settlement that will encourage Afghan refugees to return home, is demanding a neutral transitional government to prepare for elections to determine Afghanistan's future. Washington should support Pakistan's demand and not press the Pakistanis to bend. Although some State Department officials argue that "We would not want to miss the bus,"21 it would be preferable to wait for the next ''bus rather: than toaboard one that deniedseats to theAfghan refugees. Too often I State Department professionals care only about getting on !the bus" and care little about what kind of ''bus" it is or where it is heading. I I Maintain U.S. Aid U.S. military aid has been provided to help Afghans resist Soviet occupation and should continue until that occupation has ended. To abandon the rnujahideen before a total Soviet withdrawal would repudiate the Reagan Doctrine and abandon a victim of direct Soviet aggression. A premature aid cutoff would weaken the resistance, leave it vulnerable to Soviet attack and give Afghan communists the opportunity to split and outlast a divided demoralized resistance. .Once,~akis~an.shuts,.th.e aid pipeline, it-will .be difficult to reopen.

Not only will the rnujahideen harbor resentment toward Pakistan, but the Pakistani opposition will serve as a brake on Islamabad's willingness to assuming risks on behalf of the Afghans 20 The Chrisfiara Science Monitor, February 18,1988, p.10 21 7he New York Times, February 24,1988, p. A14 10 U.S. military aid should phase down only in direct proportion to the withdrawal rate of Soviet troops. This will give the Soviets an incentive to accelerate their departure rather than stretch it out to consolidate the power of the Kabul regime. U.S. humanitarian aid must continue unabated to help the Afghans rebuild their shattered lives and nation.

Although Moscow will drag its feet before accepting a settlement that includes continued U.S. aid, it eventually will relent when it realizes the alternative is an increase in U.S military aid to the mujahideen Require Rapid and Total Soviet Withdrawal i The U.S. negotiated at Geneva on the assumption tpat a Soviet withdrawal would take two to three months. Pakistan has indicated it would accept a nine-month timetable if the Kabul regime is replaced by a transitional government. Moscow rejects the transitional government but still wants nine months to depart. Washington should back Pakistan. If Moscow continues to balk on the transition government, then the U.S. should demand the three-month timetable.

Regardless of the timetable, the withdrawal should be front-end loaded in terms of equipment and troops. Powerful helicopter gunships, ground attack aircraft, and other strike weapons should be withdrawn early in the schedule.. Withdrawal moreover,.,must include all Soviet civilian and military advisors, not just Soviet troops. Soviet bases should be dismantled and prohibited by treaty. The number of trealyverification observers should be greatly increased. Equally important, the U.S. should specify that violations of the accord would result in rapid restoration of U.S. military aid tothe resistance Abrograte One-sided Treaties domination. The 1978 Friendship Treaty was invoked by the Soviets to justify theirl invasion. Moscowalso is suspected of concluding a secret treaty under which Kabul ceded to the Soviet Union the Wakhan Corridorh thenortheast. Ifsuch treatiesnare allowed to stand, the Soviets will have a pretext to remain involved in Afghan affairs or even to re-intervene at the "request" of the communist regime:.All previously concluded Soviet-Afghan treaties should be declared null and void Moscow has signed more than 300 treaties with its Kabul clients that codify Soviet I Require Soviet War Reparations Should the Soviet Union withdraw from Afghanistan tomorrow, the Afghans will suffer the devastating consequences of the Soviet invasion for decades to come. Moscow should be required to pay war reparations to be determined by an impartial international commission. The thousands, of,..ghan childr,en. transpqrted to the Soviet Union moreover, should r be repatriated. I All that the Soviet Union should gain from its Afghan adventure is safe passage for its troops and Afghan surrogates, and guarantees of a neutral Afghanistan free of foreign bases 11 I Ensure Freedom of Choice for Soviet POWs A Some 200 captured Soviet soldiers are being held as prisoners of war by the rnujahideen.

Up to 50 more have defected and joined the mujahiden to fight against the Soviet army.

Repatriated Soviet POWs from other wars faced harsh punishments or execution when they returned home. There is no reason to believe today's POWs would fare differently. Those POWs and defectors who do not want to return to the Soviet Uriion must not be compelled to do so. Some State Department officials, however, are believed to be ready to press the rnujahideen to force the Soviet POWs to return to the USSR I To attain the above goals, Washington must coordinate its policies with Pakistan, which has made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of the Afghans. Close Pakistani-American relations are the strongest guarantee against the creation of a Soviet satellite regime in Afghanistan. I CONCLUSION I After years of obstructing a negotiated settlement the Soviet. Union .suddenly.wants to wrap up the Geneva peace talks in a rush. Moscow is pressuring Pakistan to agree to a one-sided deal, replete with loopholes, that would undermine the rnujahideen by weakening their military strength and eroding their political unity. Pakistan is holding out for a-neutral transitional government that would end the fighting, not just make it easier for Moscow to cut its losses while assuring it control over Kabul Sacrificing Too Much. The U.S. should stand by its friends, not pressure theminto a false settlement. The rnujahideen and Pakistan have sacrificed far too much to be shunted j,,v -I aside in a short-sighted rush to an Afghanistan peace in timefor the ,May superpower summit. Ronald Reagan should continue to honor his public commitments to aid the Afghans until a total Soviet withdrawal is completed and Afghan self-determination is assured If the Soviets resist a genuine settlement then pressure should be increased, not relaxed.

Gorbachev's celebrated "new thinking" on Afghanistan was prompted by Afghan rnujahideen steadfastness and American Stingers, not diplomatic niceties. If the Soviets prolong their brutal occupation then more Stingers will be needed to prompt 'hewer thinking A I. i i L James A. Phillips Senior Policy Analyst I 12


James Phillips

Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation