February 20, 1990 | Backgrounder on Middle East
754 February 20,1990 CONSOIlIDATING VICTORY IN AFGHANISTAN INTRODUCTION The Afghan rnujahideen freedom fighters scored a great victory when their fierce res istance forced the Soviet Union to end its ten-year occupation of Af ghanistan on February 15 last year. Yet that victory remains painfully incom plete. Although Soviet troops have withdrawn, the puppet regime that Mos cow installed in Kabul at the cost o f 1,200,000 Afghan lives survives despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people.The regime survives largely because of the $250 million to $300 million of military aid that it has been receiving every month from Moscow.
It is the survival of the Kabul regime and the floodofSoviet aid to it that thrust Afghanistan onto the agenda of Secretary of State James Bakers February 8 and 9 meetings in Moscow with his counterpart, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. While in Moscow , Baker dropped the longstanding American demand that the Soviet-installed dictator, Najibullah be removed before a negotiated settlement is possible.This is troubling be cause it suggests that the United States commitment tomAfghan self deter mination is weakening. This American concession, moreover, was not recipro cated by Moscow.
Gorbachevs War. From Washingtons perspective, Soviet policy toward Afghanistan is puzzling. While Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has ac quiesced to, even encouraged, the colla pse of Eastern Europes communist dictatorships, he has spent over $4 billion of scarce Soviet resources on Afghanistan in the past year.Thus the war there remains in a very real sense Gorbachevs War. More than 300 Soviet military advisers and an unknown n u mber of KGB personnel continue to plan military operations, launch SCUD-B surface-to-surface missiles, train communist army officers, repair military equipment, and direct the dreaded Mzad secret police. Soviet I warplanes based inside the Soviet Union st e al across the border to launch covert air strikes against resistance strongholds in northern Afghanistan gruntled Afghan army to overthrow Najibullah Diplomatic Leverage. This will take time. The mujahideen require at least one more fighting season (late s pring to early fall).to_con$nce Najibullah and his'Soset Kackers thatthe bbul regime is doomed and must make way for a new government. Military pressure is necessary to produce the diplomatic leverage required to oust the Afghan communists.To exert such p ressure the mujahideen desperately need effective and consistent U.S. military aid.
Washington should not acquiesce to Soviet diplomatic efforts to end aid to 2 both sides of the Afghan conflict, because this would leave the resistance at a permanent disad vantage relative to the Kabul regime, which has stockpiled huge quantities of Soviet military supplies in the last year. Nor should Washington permit Moscow to engineer a cosmetic political settlement that would create an unstable coalition government to m ask continued communist control over the Afghan army and secret police. Instead the U.S. firmly and patie~tly-~ho-u!d~up~o~~the.Afehans farli~~a~on and self-deter mination To help the mujahideen consolidate their victory, the U.S. should 1) Continue to su p ply the kujahideen with military supplies, including larger (current number is classified) numbers of Stinger and other anti aircraft missiles, mortars, mine-clearing equipment, and, radios 2) Give the mujahideen adequate training in how to.use these arms and how to coordinate their military offensives 3) Protest Soviet violations of April 1988 'Geneva Accords, which prohibit Soviet participation in combat and cross-border Soviet bombing attacks 4) Press the anti-communist Afghan Interim Government (AIG), e stab lished in Pakistan in February 1989, to broaden its base of support by includ ing more Afghan Shiites, field commanders, educated expatriates, Durrani Pushtuns, and non-Pushtun ethnic groups 5) Press Pakistan to cease its attempts to dominate the AIG and end its dis ruptive practice of channeling a disproportionate share of 'military supplies to fundamentalist groups resented by most Afghans 6) Push for a political settlement based on power transfer to the resistance not an unworkable, cosmetic agreem ent on power sharing I a L LI.I..YAI..-C*Y.1 4 a.
THE MILITARY SITUATION The mujahideen have improved their military position margmally since the February 15,1989, Soviet troop withdrawal.They now directly control rough ly 90 percent of Afghanistan's terri tory. They have improved the security of their supply'routes, particularly along the Pakistani border;'overwhelmed.iso lated regime outposts, nibbled at the outer ring of defenses surrounding the portance and wrested the initiative from communist forces, which by and large remain hunkered down in heavily fortified garrisons.
The Najibullah regime is defended by approximately 100,000 fighting men including a largely unreliable army of 40,000, lightly-armed but more reliable tribal militias of about 25,000, and up to 35,000 crack troops of the Ministry major- cities-of Kabul,Xandahar Jalalabad,..and..Herat (listed-in-ord-eI of im I e I I I 3of Interior. By contrast, according to Pentagon estimates, the Afghan resis tance can mobilize up to 300,000 men, altho ugh no more than 150,000 are usually in the field at the same time.
Lacking Coordination. The mujddeen are superb guerrilla fighters, adept at mountain warfare, but have not yet learned to fight major offensives in flat terrain against well-defended cities and bases. The mujahideen hydra-headed 1eadership;small unit tactics~.and-decen.tra~i~darganizzltion, which enabled them to withstand the Soviet onslaught, hamper their ability. to mount coor dinated assaults on government strongholds. When they descend f rom the mountains to concentrate their forces to besiege garrisons, they become vul nerable to government artillery attacks and high-altitude saturation bomb 2 ing The mujuhideen lack the firepower to destroy fortified positionihheir light artillery and i n accurate Chinese- and Egyptian-made rockets have little effect on entrenched troops, but threaten nearby civilians, most of whom support the resistance. The mujahideen also lack the-capability-jo penetrate the enor mous mine fields that surround major cit ies and bases: These offensive deficiencies have enabled the Najibullah regime to withstand intermittent mujahideen attacks Government Reprisals. But the regime has failed to defeat the mujuhideen.
As a result, the Kabul regime targets the civilian supporters of the resistance.
Najibullah has adopted a hostage strategy, launching indiscriminate artillery missile, and air strikes against civilians in retaliation for..nearby.resistance at tacks. These intimidation tactics prompt civilians to request local resistance leaders to ref r ain from overtly liberating densely populated areas. In Kan dahar, Afghanistans second largest city, for example, local mujddeen ac ceded to their civilian supporters requests to avoid triggering massive govern ment reprisals.These commanders negotiated a defacto cease fire with local government forces led by trusted members of their own. tribal group.
In exchange for their forbearance, various .Kandahar-kujuhideen groups are believed to receive military supplies from local army units, cash tribute from Ka bul, and perhaps even promises that the army garrison will defect to the resistance at an opportune moment. Mullah Lala Malang a widely respected commander, has said that he will not start thZ final battle. to e I 1. U.S. Department of State, Afghanistan: Soviet Occupation and Withdrawal, Special Repoft NO. 179 December 1988, p. 7 2. Soviet technicians have converted scores of huge Antonov-12transport planes into deadly bombers capable of dropping their 44,OOO pound payloads from above the three-mile range of the mujahideen Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. These planes can loiter for hours above the battlefield, making repeated and increasingly accurate attacks on the defenseless guerrillas below. See Washington Post, May 10,1989. 3 American ana1ysts.atimate . tbat.there may be up.to 30 millionmines strewn throughout Afghanistan including airdropped mines randomly dispersed along mujuhideen supply routes and farmers fields. Some 30,OOO Afghans, mostly civilians, have been disabled by mines and untold thousands k illed. Radio Free EuropeIRadio Liberty, SovietIEast Eutvpean Reptt, December 10,1988 4 liberate Kandahar until the mujahideen achieve effective military coordina tion, a development that would prevent the Kabul regime from focusing its military counteratt acks and reprisals on Kandahar alone.
Shura Nasr Harakat Pasdaran I THEPOLITICAL SITUATION S. Beheshti Traditionalist Central Hazaraiat Unknown Radical Central Hazarajat Pro-Iranian S.A. Muhseni Moderate Urban areas Fundamentalist Unknown Radical West Cent ral Pro-IrAan There. was-never only one-war in Afghanistan; there-were many.
Afghanistans rugged mountains imposed geographic barriers that forced each isolated valley to fight its own war against the Soviets and Kabul com munists. Afghanistans pre-war po pulation of 15 million to 17 million or ganized itself along ethnic, tribal, and ideological lines to resist the Soviet-im posed communist regime.The Pushtuns, the largest ethnic group with 40 per cent to 50 percent of the population, historically dominat e d Afgh,an, pogtie and formed the bulk of the anti-communist resistance.TheTajiks of northern Major Resistance Groups Jamiat Islami Burhanuddin Moderate North-Northeast Hezbi Islami(G) Gulbuddin Radical North and Hekmatyar Fundamentalist Southeast Hezbi Is l ami(K Yunis Khalis Fundamentalist Kabuland Southeast Islamic Union A.R. Sayyaf Ultra-Orthodox Southeast M. Nabi Traditionalist Southern tribal Harakat Natl Islamic S.A. Gailani Traditionalist Southern tribal Front for Royalist Afphanistan Afghan Natl S. M o jadiddi Traditionalist Southern tribal Rabbani Fundamentalist Fundamentalist Mohamma.di. r I Liberation Front I I I 5 Afghanistan, the second largest group with roughly 30 percent of the popula tion, also have made a major contribution to the resistance. The smaller Uzbek, Hazara,Turkoman, and other communities have done less fighting but remain important pieces in Afghanistans complex ethnic mosaic.
Islam has been the most important force binding the ad hoc anti-com munist coalition. Even the name mujahid een reflects the Islamic influence; it means those who fight the Holy War.-.Now that theforeign invader has been repulsed, the united and dedicated spirit of the Holy War has waned.
Islam now is a source of tension between Afghans of different Islamic sects.
There is growing friction between Afghan Shiites (who comprise 15 percent to 20 percent of the population) and Afghanistans Sunni majority. Moreover fundamentalists groups such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyars radical Hezbi IsZami are trying to assert themselv es against the traditional.politica1 and religious leaders Reemerging Rivalries. The Soviet withdrawal has encouraged a reversion to the kaleidoscopic traditional patterns of Afghan politics. Longstanding per sonal, political, tribal, ethnic, and ideologi c al rivalries submerged in the com mon struggle against the Soviet invader gradually have reemerged as the con tending factions jockey for political power.The seven major Sunni parties based in Peshawar, Pakistan, have a strong power base among the 3.7 mil lion Afghan refugees living in Pakistan but have less influence over the inde pendent Afghans still living inside Afghanistan.
The Peshawar parties convened a skura (council) in Pakistan on February 10,1989, to establish a provisional government that could stake a credible claim to be Afghanistans legitimate government. Pakistans Inter-Services In telligence directorate (ISI which controls the disbursement of aid to the Pakistani-based mujahideen, brokered the formation of the Afghan Interim Government (AI G) on February
23. Sibgatullah Mojadiddi, a professor of Is lamic Law who leads the smallest-fraditionlid wasvoted in as Presi dent and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the-leader of the smallest fundamentalist party was voted in as Prime Minister.The fact that two of the least powerful Peshawar leaders were chosen to lead the AIG is anindication that the Peshawar-based party leaders were more interested in preserving their per sonal political fiefdoms than in building a broad-based government of nation al unity.
Narr owly Based. The AIG mistakenly failed to include important pieces of the Afghan political jigsaw puzzle. The Iran-based Shiite parties boycotted the 480-seat shura when they were offered only 60 of the 120 seats they demanded. Tajiks, Uzbeks, important mu j ahideen field commanders, sup porters of former King Zahir Shah (overthrown in 1973 and expatriates living outside Pakistan were underrepresented at the shura.The strong Pakis tan and Saudi Arabia influences on the proceedings tainted-the results of the s hura, because of the Afghans visceral distrust of foreigners.
Many Afghans perceived the resulting AIG to be too narrowly based, too pro-Pakistani, and too fundamentalist. Most non-Pushtuns, particularly the Tajiks, perceived it to be too Pushtun-dominated . Pushtuns from the Durrani 6 .I tribal group in southern Afghanistan, which was the powerbase for the royal dynasty that ruled Afghanistan from 1747 until 1973, resented the AIGs dis proportionate inclusion of members of the Ghilzai tribal group of easte rn Af ghanistan.
Divide and Rule Strategy. Najibullah cleverly has tried to exploit cleavages in the resistance by offering cash bribes, fuel and weapons to war-weary local commanders in exchange for promises-of neutrality. Although few com manders formall y have accepted such deals, Najibullah declared many areas to be zones of peace and spread disinformation to fan suspicions of separate deals, particularly with major commanders like Ahmed Shah Mas soud. Najibullahs propaganda regularly denounces the lavi s h lifestyle of the warmongers in Peshawar in an attempt to drive a wedge between the military leaders inside Afghanistan and the political leaders outside;bKabulk propaganda also exploits the traditional unease of urban Afghans with the un ruly mountain t ribes and exploits the anti-Pakistani sentiments of the popula tion by stressing the AIGs subservience to Pakistan.
Najibullahs regime also is plagued with iniernal rivalries.The Afghan com munist party is estimated to have 150,000 members, of which only 5 ,000 are believed loyal to Najibullah! The communists are divided into warring fac tions: the ruling Parcham (banner) group, a pragmatic urban-based clique put in power by the 1979 Soviet invasion, and the larger, more doctrinaire Mzalq (masses) faction, d ominated by rural Pushtuns. There is considerable friction between the Parcham-dominated secret police and the Madq dominated army. Najibullah alertly crushed threecoup attempts last year (in April, July, and December If the mujahideen can maintain milita r y pressure Najibullah may fall victim to his own disgruntled followers, who then may sue for peace THE FAILURE OF THE JALAWAD OFFENSIW Once established, the Afghan Interim Government-appeared*-more anxious to gain foreign recognition and divide up postwar spoils than to broaden its domestic base of support. It hastily moved to capture the eastern city of Jalalabad, which it hoped to make the provisional capital of liberated Af ghanistan. Ignoring the harshest winter in fifteen years, the AIG pressed for an attack in early March. Political considerations were paramount: the attack began shortly-before the March 13 to 16 summit meeting in Riyadh of the foreign ministers of Muslim countries belonging to the Islamic Conference 0rganization.The AIG and Pakistan h oped that a timely military victory at Jalalabad would win recognition of the AIG by the Islamic Conference Or ganization, the Muslim worlds most prestigious international body I 4 Estimate of General Farouq Zarif, a high-ranking defector from the secret p olice cited in Lally Weymouth Inside Najibullahs Regime, Washington Posr, November 12,1989 7 Instead, the Jalalabad campaign exposed the mujuhideens military and political weaknesses.This crucial operation, the first offensive after the Soviet withdrawal, was improvised with little military or political planning.The AIG failed to consult with such key commanders as Ahmed Shah Massoud or Abdul Haq, who had the.expertise and seasoned fighters that might have as sured victory. Instead the AIG rushed thousands of mujuhideen across the border frsm t~~o~t~e=outski a~labad.-~s. alienated local mujuhideen who resented the sudden intrusion of outside forces, particularly several hundred fundamentalist Arab volunteers of the zealous Islamic Brigades. The AIGs attempt s to take Jalalabad without involving the major field commanders was in effect a coup, probably inspired by Pakistans Inter Sewices Intelligence directorate (ISI to signal increasingly independent commanders inside Afghanistan that the AIG could *n without them Overruling Local Commanders. The original plan was toencircle the city and persuade the government forces to surrender, but the.loca1 mujuhideen were unable to convince tribal kinsmen defending Jalalabad that defectors would be safe. from the retribu tion of the undisciplined newcomers. Although defectors had been well-treated throughout most of the war, fundamentalist rnujuhideen had massacred 79 army defectors east of Jalalabad in November 19
88. IS1 then pushed for a direct assault on the city over the objections of several local commanders who argued that it would result in too many civilian casualties on March 6. Although they initially succeeded in-overrunning the strategic Samarkhel garri s on on the outskirts of the city, they could not penetrate the mine fields that protected the estimated 17,000 troops inside. Lacking a unified chain of command, the various rnujuhideen groups were poorly coor dinated. The Kabul-Jalalabad road, Jalalabadsv i tal supply link, was not cut until March 20.The mujahideen neglected-to-attaek-theKabul and Bagram air bases, fiity miles away, which became a staging areafor. the governments devastating air attacks. Roughly half-of-the .up.to 8,000~m~alties.that the muj a hkken sustained at Jalalabad were due to air attacks Desultory Siege. Najibullahs armed forces had the luxury of focusing en tirely on Jalalabad because there were few diversionary attacks. elsewhere. Al7 though the fighting season traditionally did not b e gin until late spring, it was clear that many field commanders declined to assist the Peshawar-based politicians to gaina .new capital bTc~tKey-iesentFdlieing3akEfoT granted by the AIG, which they felt did not adequately represent the fighting men.Tajiks a bstained from the fighting around Jalalabad due to resentment over the minor role assigned to theTajik-dominated Jumiut Ishi at the shuru. Durrani Pushtuns, also disappointed by their treatment by the shuru, s The mujahideen, lS,OOO.strong, began a disjoi n ted attack against Jalalabad C 5 Wasrtington Post, April 24,1989 and June 27,1989 8 were unwilling to make sacqfices to install the Ghilzai-dominated AIG in the Ghilzai region of Jalalabad Once the initial assault bogged down, the battle became a desultor y siege.
When.the siege was broken on May 12,1989, the Kabul regime crowed that it had won another Stalingrad the Soviet victory considered to be a turning point in the U.S.S.R.s fight against Germany in World War II. By squander Najibullahs strongest bast ions, the AIG and IS1 gave the Kabul regime a vic tory that boosted communist morale ing.men and suppliesh a prematurehigh-stakes-offensive against one of PROBLEMS WITH AMERICAN AID Some of the mujahideens problems can be attributed to Washingtons.:mis ca l culations. Most American analysts expected the Kabul regime to collapse quickly, like the puppet regimes that the Soviet Army had left behind in May 1946 in the Iranian provinces of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan when Moscow was forced by United States diplomat i c pressure to end its occupation of northern Iran. Other observers invoked the Vietnam analogy, but forgot thatthe South Vietnamese government survived for two years after the U.S. withdrawal and ultimately succumbed to a North Vietnamese invasion, not to the Viet Cong guerrillas? The South Vietnamese government, moreover, was hamstrung by the U.S. Congress, which cut U.S. aid by 80 percent from 1973 to 1975 Halving Aid. The U.S. intelligence community estimated that the Najibul lah r ime would collapse si x to twelve months after the Soviet troop pul lout. This estimate led Washington to underestimate the quantity and quality of arms that the resistance needed to seal its victory.The U.S. had provided the Afghan resistance with 2.3 billion in military aid f r om 1980 to 8g I 6 One Durrani Pushtun shrugged off the battle for Kandahar, saying This is not a matter. for Durrani. It is Ghilzai against Ghilzai. New Yo& 7imes, June 6,1989. 7 Anthony Arnold, a leading expert on Afghanistan, presciently predicted that f ollowing a Soviet withdrawal There is likely to be in Afghanistan, just as io Vietnam, a temporary and misleading increase in regime security effectiveness. The Kabul regimes forces, no longer able to rely on Soviet troops for support and protection Antho n y Arnold, Parallels and Divergences Between the U.S. Experience inVietnam and the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan, Central Asian Siitvey, Vol. 7, No. 243,1988, p. 127. 8 Wmlaington Post, June 27,1989. will probably fight harder, both as a matter of incre a sed pride and in the interests of individual suMval:l l I 9 1988, including roughly $600 million in 1988 alone? Although figures remain classified, military aid reported1 declined to less than half of 1988 levels in the first six months of last year!The m u jdzkken surrounding Jalalabad were short of ammunition and were forced to siphon off aid that normally would have,gone to other.commanders to sustain the Jalalabad attack out'advzinced weapons that it feared .could end tip'in.Iranian or terrorist hands. A c curate Spanish-made 120mm mortars long promised to the mujahideen were withheld after the delivery of only 30 to 50 units. More im portant, Washington reduced deliveries of Stinger shoulder-fired heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles shortly after the signi n g of the April 1988 United Na tions-sponsored Geneva Accords, which set the terms of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.These missiles, first used in Afghanistan in Sep- tember 1986, altered the militfp balance by reducing the effectiveness of Soviet a nd Afghan air attacks Washington also altered the mix of its weapons for the mujahideen, phasing Some 900 to 1 OOO Stingers were sent to the resistance between 1986 and February 1989 After Stinger deliveries were cut, the mujahideen beganl4 hoarding their remaining missiles; government bombing then increased.
U.S. intelligence officials estimated that the mujahideen had 200 to 500 Stingers left by last spring.15 The Bush Administration, fearing that Stingers could turn up in the hands of terrorists after t he fall of Najibullah, even drew up plans to recover unused Stingers by offering the mujahideen trucks, trac tors, and irrigation equipment in return 13 MOSCOW'S AID CONTINUES TO FLOW TO KABUL When Secretary of State George Shultz signed the Geneva Accord s on April 14,1988, he made it clear that the U.S. reserved the right to continue military aid to the resistance, and theradded:""But we-are prepared to meet restraint with restraint This policy of determining U.S. military .aid.by .gaug ing levels of Sovi e t military aid was called "positive symmetry Both the Reagan and the Bush Administrations, however, gave Moscow the benefit of 9 New York Zinres, October 10,1989, p. A17 10. Washington Post, September 2,1989 11. Jalaluddin Haqq a major'commander in the ea s tern province of Paktia, complained that aid was cut by almost 80 per cent after the February 15,1989 Soviet withdrawdiFhIS, fiuily Report, Near East and Soulh Asia April 12,1989, p. 43 12. A 1989 U.S. Army study estimated that Stingers destroyed 269 airc r aft in Afghanistan and hit 79 percent of the targets tired upon. Washington Post, June 27,1989 13. Warhington Post, July 5,1989 14. Cord Meyer Unfinished Business in Afghanistan Washington limes, August 5,1988 15. New York linres, March 12,1989, p. 18 I 1 0 the doubt and discounted the prospect of massive Soviet aid.The convention al wisdom was that the U.S. should calibrate its aid to avoid humiliating Gor bachev, who was only looking for a decent interval between the Soviet withdrawal and the fall of Naji b ullah. It was assumed that Gorbachevs highly publicized new thinking in foreign affairs meant the Soviets would stop meddling in regional matters Gorbachevs.new thinking,~howeve~apparentlydoesnot include the abandonment of the Afghan communists. A senior U .S. intelligence official told the New York Kmes that the U.S. had been caught by surprise by the scale of Soviet military aid.16 Between early March and mid-July 1989, Mos cow transferred to Kabul 550 SCUD-B surface-to-surface missiles, 160 T-39 and T-62 tanks, 615 armored personnel carriers, and 1,600 five-ton trucks.
Moscow launched the largest air supply effort since.the 1948 Berlin airlift, sending 25 to 40 11-76 transport planes to Kabul each day.18 U.S. officials es timate that these planes deliv re d $250 million to $300 million worth of military supplies each month! A Soviet official estimated that the airlift alone would cost about $490 million per year.m Soviet military support to Kabul last year was estimated to total up to $4.5 billion?l Moscow Violation. More than 300 Soviet military advisers remain in Af ghanistan where they plan Afghan military operations, repair military equip ment, train communist army officers, and launch the 180-mile range SCUD-B missiles. Although Soviet advisers were no t explicitly banned by the April 1988 Geneva Accords, Soviet participation in combat operations was prohibited. Moscow is violating this commitment; according to a confidential U.S. government report leaked to the New York 7hes on October 10,1989.
Soviet a dvisers wearing Afghan army uniforms control the huge missiles which are launched from a base near Kabul that Afghan personnel are not al lowed to enter. More t$jn 900 SCUD-B missiles were fired between last Moscow also is violating the Geneva Accords by m aking cross-border bombing attacks against targets in northern .Afgha&tan. The mujahideen have monitored and taped radio conversations between Russian-spe kin pilots engaged in combat operations, including some over Jalalabad? Skiet I February and October 16. New Yo& linies, March 24,1989 17. Wasliington Post, September 2,1989, p. A20 18. New Yo& linies May 24,1989, p. A12 19. NewY0&7hes, October 10,1989, p. A17 20. New Yo& linies, May 24,1989, p. A12 21. David Isby, Why the Mujahideen Did Not Win the War i n 1989 and What They Must Do in 1990 unpublished paper, January 1990, p. 6 22. NewYo&7hies, October 10,1989, p. A17 23. Washingon Ernes, October 30,JW cu 11 air combat operations have been confirmed by an Afghan pilot who defected September 29,1989, arjj a high-level defector from the Afghan secret police General Farouq Zarif Washingtons failure to maintain the promised positive symmetry in arms supplies contributed to the mujahideens military difficulties last year. In creased-U.S. niilitary support thus i s necessary.to redress the imbalance-of military aid will improve rnujuhideen military prospects and give Najibullah incentive to admit defeat and head for exile in the Soviet Union.Those that Cynically complain that the U.S. is fighting to the last Afgha n do not know i power created by the massive Soviet arms aid to Kabul Effective U.S a The Soviet KGB also remains active in Afghanistan. Some 1,500 KGB per sonnelgpervise the activities of the Afghan Interior Ministry and secret police. Some observers have charged that 6,000 to 7,000 Soviet Central Asian troaps disguised asAfghansw~r~~is~at~h~dta-Afghanistan in mid 19
88. Others maintain that this Jowzjani militia actuallQ manned by Uzbek and Turkmen mercenaries from northern Afghanistan AN AMERICAN POLICY FOR A FREE AFGHANISTAN America has achieved its primary and extremely important strategic goal in .
Afghanistan, the withdrawal of Soviet troops. But the U.S. did not give the mujahideen arms merely to kill Soviets. The ultimate U.S. objective has been th e creation of a stable, independent, and free Afghanistan strong enough to block any possible future expansion of Soviet power. No peace is possible as long as the communists occupy Kabul. Until the communists have relin quished power, Afghanistan will be buffeted by instability that could invite fu ture Soviet intervention. And as long as the war continues, the 3.7 million Af ghan refugees in Pakistan will stay put. A U.S. or Pakistani attempt to strike a deal with Moscow over the heads of the Afghans cou ld transform this large well-armed Afghan population into a destabilizing force that would turn on its Pakistani hosts much as the Palestinian guerrillas turned against the Jorr danian government during the 1970 Black September uprising.
Washington should adopt a three-track policy to assist Afghans to regain self-determination: 1) help the mujuhideen maintain military pressure on Kabul; 2) help the AIG broaden its base of support to become the core of a truly representative government that*would-inclcrde g ood Muslims from Kabul who do not support the communists; 3) seek a-diplo-matic settlement that includes power transfer from.Najibullah to the broadened AIG, not a cosmetic and unworkable power-sharing scheme i 12 the Afghans.The mujahideen will continue to fight for their freedom regard less of whether U.S. support continues. Effective U.S. aid is required by the 1982 Tsongas-Ritter Resolution, which passed the U.S. Senate unanimously.
It declared It would be indefensible to provide the freedom fighters w ith only enough aid to fight and die but not enough to advance their cause of freedom To"re'store't~e'-arms'symmetry .in. Afgh'axiistan;-the'Bush Administration should 1) Upgrade the arms provided to the mujahideen. To blunt the regimes's deadly high alti t ude bombing tactics the mjahideen desperately need high altitude anti-aircraft missiles, such as the British-built 7,000-meter range Rapier, which could be mounted on trucks. In addition to greater. numbers of the basic Stinger, Washington should provide t hird generation StGzge&RMPs capable of coytering the types of flares used by the Soviets to deflect the basic Stingers. Improved air defenses would enhance the ability of the mujuhideen to protect civilians in liberated areas, which could lead cities such as Kandahar and'Herat to defect to the resistance The mujuhideen also need more accurate and longer range artillery to allow them to .attack government garrisons while minimizing civilian' casual- ties. The U.S. should rush several hundred Spanish-made 12 0 mm mortars to the resistance, along with fire control equipment and ammunition for cap tured artillery. More anti-tank weapons, such as the Milan anti-tank guided missile, are needed. Large numbers of specia1:artillery~shells~capable. of cratering runways are necessary to put air bases out of action. Hundreds of Ligh$oot mine-clearing devices are needed to facilitate attacks and give pos sible defectors a path out of encircled garrisons I 2) Train the mujahideen on modern weapons and tactics. The mujahidee n should be trained to use their new weapons-effectively, to coordinate artillery fire with guerrilla attacks, and to use radio equipment to improve coopera tion between dispersed groups 3) Urge the mujahideen to adopt a strategy of strangulation. The resi s tance should avoid costly frontal attacks on fortified positions and instead try to interdict the regimes road and air supply lines. Guerrillas have won.wars,in t Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, and Rhodesia without taking any major rilia warfare towns but b ydtressing the political, military, and diplomatic strengths of per 4) Assert U.S. control over distribution of aid..Pakistan currently disburses aid so as to maximize its influence over the mujahideen. It thus penalizes inde pendent commanders by cutting their aid and seeks to bypass the major corn I I 21. New Yo& liines, March 27,1989 28. See Isby, op. cit 13 manders through the piecemeal s contracting of military operations to more pliable minor commanders. This disrupts the mujahideen command structure sows discord, and undermines morale. Washington should insist that American, not Pakistani, personnel control the flow of U.S. aid to insure that it is channeled directly to such major field commanders as Ahmed Shah Massoud, Abdul Haq, and Ismail Khan. If the massive Soviet arms airlift con tinues in 1990 the U.S. should-be its ow llifi t4,the.s.e commanders using C-130E Bhk6ird transports designed for low-level penetration and resupply operations cates the lions share of arms to the Hezbi Ishi of Gulbuddi n Hekmatyar, a fanatically anti-Western leader who has been described as a cross between Pol Pot and Abu Nidal. Pakistans IS1 favors Hekmatyar because he is a pan Islamic leader who wants cooperation with Islamic Pakistan and is unlikely to promote irreden t ist Pushtun claims on Pakistans Northwest Frontier Province, a longstanding source of tension between Afghanistan and Pakis tan. Hekmatyar seeks dominance over the other parties and recently broke with the AIG after his party was condemned for killing 30 m embers of the rival Jamiat Islami last July. Washington should penalize Hekmatyar for his at tacks on his rivals by cutting off his aid and diverting it to groups, such as Jamiat Islami, that have demonstrated a willingness to cooperate against the commun i sts Building Support for the AIG Afghans historically have been superb warriors against foreign invaders but erratic builders of domestic consensus. Ultimately, the mujuhideen must rely on political willpower, not merely military firepower, to win their p r otracted struggle against Najibullahs communists. The resistance must transform itself into a coherent alternative government that can attract broad support from the waveiing segment of theufban population that tolerates the repressive Najibullah regime b e cause it fears that the rural-based mujahideen will plunge Afghanistan into anarchy.The U.S. therefore should 1) Press the AIG to broaden its support base. The AIG should consult, cul tivate, and include more field commanders, Shiites, urban elites, Durra n i Pushtuns, non-Pushtuns, and educated expatriates. No outside power can force unity on the Afghans, but the U.S cooperating with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, can discourage disunity. Washington should urge Islamabad and Riyadh to reduce their disproportion ate support for fundamentalist groups and withdraw the Islamic Brigades, which many mujuhideen resent and which frighten regime supporters who otherwise would defect.
Washington should help the mujuhideen establish a Military Council that YP 5) Reduce the aid going to radical fundamentalists. Pakistan currently allo 2) Urge the resistance to develop a unified military leadership 29. See Zalmay Khalilzad, Ending the Afghan War, Washington Post, January 7,1990, p. B4 14 I would give major field commanders (s u ch as Ahmed Shah Massoud in the north, Abdul Haq around Kabul, Ismail Khan in Herat, and Amin Wardak in Wardak province, among others) control over military strategy and opera tions. American military aid should be channeled'directly to this council to st r engthen cooperation and minimize competition among rival groups. This would also help limit Pakistan's manipulation of military aid 3) Insist that Pakistan' reduce its iniolvem-en t -iti AIG decisionmaking Meddling by Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence could trigger an anti-Pakis tani backlash and tarnish the legitimacy of the resistance in the eyes of many Afghans. Washington should work with Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Foreign Ministry, which are known to be critical of the agency's overreaching in Afghanistan, to reduce its control over the arms flow 4) Encourage defections. The Kabul regime was weakened by a hemor rhage of approxima ly 1,500 defections per month between summer 1988 and February 19
89. Defections then decreased beca useof the resistance's loss of momentum, its disorganization, and poor -treatment of some earlier defectors. Najibullah's regime is riddled with disloyal officials?1 To en courage defections the AIG should proclaim publicly a general amnesty for all Najib u llah supporters not guilty of war crimes. The U.S. should help the AIG establish mobile radio stations inside Afghanistan to publicize the safe treatment granted to future defectors. Negotiations on the surrender of gar risons should be conducted by local mujahideen commanders who enjoy the trust of the government troops Diplomacy The U.S consistengy has rejected any proposed peace settlement that would allow the Soviet-installed Najibullah regime. to retain power. Secretary of State Baker, however, seems t o haveundercut,-this policy at his February 8 meeting in Moscow with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze by dropping the long-held American-demand-that .Najibullah-be removed.before ,negotiations begin. Although the U.S. still insists that Najibullah must go, i t now maintains that the removal could be part of a gradual, phased transition.This is risky be cause it puts Washington on a collision course with its mujahideen allies in ex change for Moscow's promise to remove Najibullah at some vague1ydefined later da t e. Given Soviet violations of the Geneva Accords, George Bush and 4 Jim-Baker- should-not rely -on-Soviet -g ood.fai th Baker's concession gives Najibullah the opportunity to pose as a:con ciliatory peacerseeker while shifting the onus for continuing the w ar onto the rnujahideen, who probably will reject this approach because they consider Najibullah a war criminal. During the transition period the U.S. would be re 30. Donatella Lorch Target: Kabul New Yo& 77me.r Sunday Magazine, February 12,1989, p. 34 31 . Even Kabul is full of niujuhideen sympathizers. A BBC correspondent travelling with the mujuhideen was escorted around Kabul by secret police officials working with the resktance..NewYo& 77mRp, March 24,1989 15 quired to press its Afghan friends to accep t a cease fire and negotiate with a regime they consider anathema.This pressure not only will drive a wedge be tween the U.S. and the mujahideen, but will shatter the fragile unity of the resistance. Even if Washington could drag the AIG to the negotiating table, it would provoke fundamentalists to defect from the group amid charges of a U.S. sellout. This would weaken the resistances bargaining leverage in nego,t.iatiwxi ad: gi~e~th~,Kahu!~e~,e~a.~e lease. onlife Soviet Complaint. Bakers major concession a p parently does not go far enough for Moscow. Soviet spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov complained that Bakers proposal does not take into consideration the situation that obtains in Kabul, a reference to the fact that the military balance of power remains in Naji bullahs favor. Washington should not rush into a negotiating process that tilts the balance further in Najibullahs favor. Instead, it patiently should help the mujahideen enhance their bargaining leverage by building their military and political strength.
The U.S. should abide by its longstanding commitment toAfghan self determination and avoid negotiating with Moscow over the heads of the Af ghans. Washington will lose credibility with the mujahideen if they suspect a U.S. sellout. Washington should make it clear that the Najibullah regime is.
Moscows headache. Gorbachev hand picked Najibullah to assume power in May 1986 and now annually spends up to $4.5 billion in military aid to keep him in power. Gorbachev will have an increasingly hard time justifying this in vestment to the Soviet people during a time of economic crisis. He will. have an even harder time explaining this support to the Soviet Unions increasingly restive Muslim population of 50 million.The U.S. therefore should 1) Reject negative symme t ry. Although Moscow rejected a U.S. sugges tion for a cutoff of superpower aid (negative symmetry) in conjunction with the Geneva Accords in 1988, it now wants to ado t this arrangement.ThiS riority over the mujahideen and reduceits incentives for ii dipl o matic settle ment. Negative symmetry also would weaken the unity of-the mujuhideen and strengthen Hekrnatyars influence because he has the largest stores of stockpiled supplies 2) Rebuff Soviet attempts to force the resistance into a coalition with corn m u nists. It is not realistic to expect Afghans, known for their keen desire for vengeance-(badal to join in- a-coalition with communists-responsible. for the deaths some 1,200,000 Afghans. The mujahideen, who regard Najibullah as our Hitler, never would acc e pt such an arrangement. Washingtons support for such a coalition would undermine U.S. influence in Afghanistan 3) Send the U.S. special envoy to Peshawar. Currently, PeterTomsen, the U.S. fi UI.rr special i envoy Yw,..rC.a that ..I: oversees IC. Afghan e a ffairs 1 is based in Washington, far om the action. He should be relocated to Peshawar and assume supervision of all U.S. personnel dealing with military and humanitarian aid programs for Afghanistan. The U.S. should withdraw its diplomatic recognition fr om Kabul, where it has not had diplomatic representation January 1989 due to security considerations. Until the AIG has earned U.S. diplomatic recogni would guarantee.that the Naji\\ iullah,regime wou -r d maintain its military supe 16tion by broadening its p olitical support and establishing itself inside Afghanis tan, Washington should recognize no government 4) Push for power transfer, not power sharing. Washington should insist that a political settlement be based on the complete and irrevocable transfer o f power from Najibullahs regime to a broadened AIG. The former king Zahir Shah, could play an indispensable role as the symbolic figurehead for a neutral interim regime that could pr~p8r~-fdt~l~cti r-another shuia to determine Afghanistans future governmen t. Moscow should spirit Najibullah off for medical treatment in the Soviet Union, the same arrangement that removed his predecessor, Babrak Karmal, in 19
86. A settlement also must end communist control over the army and disband the secret police I CONCLUSION The war in Afghanistan remains Gorbachevs war.The fighting will con tinue until Gorbachevs hand-picked surrogate Najibullah and his bloody regime are removed. Massive Soviet military aid only prolongs the struggle and postpones its resolution.To offset this Soviet support the U.S. should in crease its military support for the mujahideen and equally important, should help the AIG transform itself into a representative government Challenging Gorbachev. Washington should not rush into a short-sighted agreement on a transitional government that would weaken the unity and bar gaining leverage of the mujahideen.This would facilitate. Soviet.efforts to en gine e r a cosmetic settlement that would safeguard communist control of the real levers of power, the army and secret police.The U.S. should rule out any settlement that does not include the removal of Najibullah, the purge of corn munist army officers and the disbanding of the secret police If Mikhail GorbachevHrants-to preseme-aM.orking.relationship Vciithpost-.
Najibullah Afghanktan then he must lance the Afghan boil and remove Najibullah. The U.S. should challenge Gorbacliev to liveup to his new think ing by giving the Afghans in 1990 what he wisely permitted Eastern Europeans in 1989 -self-determination. If Gorbachev balks at this, then the U.S. should patiently back the mujahideen to prompt newer thinking J James A. Phillips Deputy Director of Foreign Poli cy Studies 17 AFGHANISTAN CHRONOLOGY July 17,1973 King Zahir Shah ousted .by .his cousin, Mohammed Daoud, with communist support. Zahir now lives in Rome.
Summer 1978 December 5,1978 December 27,1979 January 1980 Daoud overthrown and killed in a bloody com munist I coup Co~~u~st-ei~"o-"f ,t-efi-or begins. April 27,1978 February 1981 March 1985 1985-1986 February 1986 May 1986 April 14,1988 August 17,1988 February 15,1989 February 15,1989 Organized resistance begins against communist rule.
Moscow and Kabul s ign Treaty of Friendship Soviets invade with 85,000 troops to oust maverick communist dictator Hafizollah Arnin,.and.p~eserye communist rule. Soviets install Babrak kal as new communist leader Carter Administration begins American aid to resis tance..
Reagan Administration expands aid, often prompted by U.S. Congress Mikhail Corbachev assumes Kremlin power, escalates air war against mujahideen and intimidation cam paign against Pakistan.
Soviet troop strength grows'to 120,0
00. Lowpoint of war for resistance.
Reagan Administration authorizes Stinger missiles for mujahideen 1. 3 Moscow pl,si ist leader' Babrak Karma1 with Najibul1ah;chief of Secret Police Geneva Accords signed setting ;terms of Soviet troop Pakistani President Zia al-Haq,md U.S. Ambassado r withdrawal from Afghanistan Arnold Raphe1 are killed when Zia's plane is sabotaged and crashes Deadline for Soviet withdrawal set by Geneva accords.
Last Soviet regular forces withdraw; more than 300 Soviet military advisers and an unknown number of KGB personnel remain February-23$1989 Afghan Interim Government (AIG) formed in Pakistan.
March-July 1989 Unsuccessful mujahideen siege of Jalalabad 18