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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Taliban defeated in Attempt to take Badghis Province

QUOTE: “The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.”
-Willa Cather, ‘Oh Pioneers!”


BULLETIN. Taliban attack on a province in western Afghanistan recalls Pashtun claims to the region.

IN THE NEWS TODAY.: On Saturday.. June 9, about 200 Taliban fighters attacked the Murghab district in Badghis Province, north of Herat, in western Afghanistan. About 30 of the Islamist fighters were killed. There hasn’t been a serious Taliban offensive in the area since 2003. Until last January, almost all Taliban operations were in the south and in the east. But after the Taliban’s failure to take Kandahar last year through frontal, conventional combat, their insurgency resumed with guerilla war in Helmand, moved westward into Farah province an the region of Herat, and now into Baghdis. (For more details on History in the News in Afghanistan, see "Afghan Casualties..." May 10, 2007)

LOOKING BACK: Herat and Kabul have been ruled separately at least as often as they’ve been united. Down through the ages, a cultural and historical fault line has often kept them apart, with the Afghan region split between the Persian west around Herat and Kabul’s eastern region, lying in the orbit of northern India.

The largest Afhgan ethnic group lying in Persia’s zone of influence has been the Pashtun people. Today, the Pashtuns, centred in southwestern Afghanistan, have been the Taliban’s main recruiting ground. The Taliban have hitched their Islamist religious cause to Pashtun claims to be Afghanistan’s natural and founding rulers. But the Pashtun language and customs also have a deep Persian influence. So it’s not surprising that the Pashtun Taliban should make historical and political as well as cultural claims the region around Herat as well as Badghis and western, ‘Persian’ Afghanistan in general. This, despite Badghis’ northwestern, Turkmen and Tajik influences.

QUOTE: "To trace in any detail the fortunes of Herat, would be to write the modern history of the East, for there has hardly been a dynastic revolution or a foreign invasion or a great civil war in Central Asia since the time of the prophet, in which Herat has not played a conspicuous part and suffered accordingly." -Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition.

FROM PAST INTO PRESENT: In the 6th century BC, all of Afghanistan was ruled by Achaeminid Persia, and by its successor, the Seleucid Greeks of the late 4th century, BC..

The Afghan region was divided, around 300 BC, when the last Seleucid ruler of the region ceded eastern Afghanistan to the Mauryan Empire of India.

In the second century AD, the Central Asian Kushan empire held Kabul and Eastern Afghanistan while Parthia held Herat and the west.

In the 6th century, the Kabul-Herat regions were united again under Sassanid Persia.

In the 8th century, Herat became the easternmost region of Islam under the Abbasid Caliphate, but their rule stopped just short of Kabul and Kandahar which remained in the cultural and political orbit of India.

In the early 11th century, a Turkic mercenary for the Abassids, Mahmoud of Ghazni, was the first leader to base an empire in Afghanistan itself, taking Herat from Persia and uniting Herat and Kabul in a realm reaching westward into Perisia and eastward across northern India. Under Ghaznavid rule, Herat lost prestige to the dynastic capital, Ghazni, near Kabul.

1149- the Ghaznavids are overthrown by the Ghurids, a Persian dynasty from the Herat region. Like the Ghaznivids, the Ghurids used Turkish slave armies and extended what had been the Ghaznavids' empire, even further into India.

-afterward, Herat went on to be ruled as a series of moderately independent principalities.

1232- Herat was destroyed by the Mongols.

-even after the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, when South Central Asia was controlled by the Golden Horde, the regions of Eastern and Western Afghanistan were divided between the Ilkhanate and the Jagatai Khante respectively.

1398- Herat was destoyed in the invasion of Tamerlane.

-nevertheless the city revivied and survived as an important centre of culture and trade.

1483- the Muslim conqueror Babur failed to establish a kingdom in his native Uzbekistan and instead took Herat and Kandahar, making them the centre of a realm which will become the Moghul empire.

1500-1700- Herat is sacked four times by Turkomans and Uzbeks.

1504- Kabul is annexed as a military and administrative district of the Moguls.

-Safavid Persia converts to Shiism while its easternmost provinces in Afghanistan remain Sunni. Persia and Afghanistan will remain opposed on the issue of religion.

1545- Kandahar becomes a Moghul military and economic base while Herat remains with the Safavids.

In the 17th century, Herat was in the empire of Safavid Persia while Kabul and eastern Afghanistan were controlled by Moghul India. Sitting between the two, Kandahar escaped control by either.

1709- A Pashtun, Mirwais Khan Hotak, takes Kandahar from the Persians and makes it an indepndent Pashtun principality.

1720-22- Pashtun Afghans of the Kandahar region under Mahmud Hotak, son of Mirwais, invade Persia, taking Herat, and overthrow the Persian Safavids under Shah Hussein. Mir Mahmud Hotak declares himself Shah in Isfahan. For the first time, under since Mahmud of Ghazni, the regions of Kandahar and Kabul in the east and Herat in the west are united.

-Hotak's successor, the Afghan Nadir Shah, ruler of Persia, settles eastern Afghan tribes in the Herat region, in sufficulent numbers to dominate the area to the present day.

1738-1747. An empire, centred on Herat, Kabul and Kandahar, under the Pashtun Afghan Ahmad Shah Duranni stretches from the Caspian Sea to northern India.

1800 onward- though much of the empire is lost, Duranni's successors consolidate Afghanistan. Afterwards, a nation, stretching from Herat to the mountains east of Kabul would be recognized as a single entity on the map, even through Herat would remain in a zone of Persian influence.

1810 (circa)-1863 -Herat is independent of Kabul.

1838- Britain helps Afghanistan repel an attempt by Persia to take Herat.

1857- Britian forces the Shah of Persia to recognize the independence of Herat from Persian rule.

1863- Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan brings Herat back under Afghan rule. Herat will remain in a united Afghanistan.

2007- Badghis Province, north of Heart, is largely Tajik and Uzbek and generally has not welcomed the Pashtun Taliban. It was the last province to be secured by the Taliban when they took control of Afghanitsan in the 1990s. After the US invaded in 2001, its Tajik and Uzbek allies of the Northern Alliance easily retook the area. Since then, the region has mostly been under the control of the warlords Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan. Ismail Khan, now Afghanistan’s minister of energy, was previously governor of Herat Province. Khan redirected Herat’s ample customs revenues from trade with Iran and Turkmenistan, away from Kabul to the rebuilding of Herat itself, securing himself great popularity as governor and making his city the richest in Afghanistan.

FOR MORE DETAILS ON HISTORY IN THE NEWS IN AFGHANISTAN: seee May 10, 2007- "Afghan Casualities..."

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