The Soviet War in Afghanistan was more related to the Cold War and not the two World Wars. During both wars, Afghanistan was largely neutral. According to Duiker & Spielvogel (2014), Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I under the rule of Amir Habibullah Khan. Similarly, the government of King Zahir Shah did proclaim official and neutrality in the World War II conflict immediately after its outbreak. Therefore, it was the cold war intrigues that led to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. The US had made progress in the Middle East having courted Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Israel and others successfully. According to Duiker & Spielvogel (2014), this was at Moscow’s expense which feared losing Afghanistan which was its communist proxy. The invasion occurred in December 1979 as the Russians claimed that they were trying to support the legitimate government of Prime Minister Hazifullah Amin against the Mujahdeen fighting against the government.
Both the US and USSR had stakes in the Afghanistan situation which explains why the US supported the Muslim guerillas fighting against Russian forces in Afghanistan. According to Wolfe (2010), the Soviets believed the invasion was in direct protection of their national security interests due to the threat posed by the Mujahedeen. Russia feared that the instability in the country could spread across the vast border that Afghanistan shared with the Soviet Union’s Muslim Central Asian nations. For this reason, Russia felt that Afghanistan had to remain a buffer state and thus had to invade the country in order to preserve the geopolitical balance that was in existence (Wolfe, 2010). On the other hand, the US saw the invasion as posing a challenge to its policy, vital sea lanes and oil interests. This explains why the US supported the Afghan insurgents by providing covert military as well as other forms of assistance. It was the Mujahideen that prevailed in the end forcing Soviet forces to withdraw from Afghanistan in early 1989.
Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J. (2014). The Essential World History, Volume II (7th ed.). Boston, MA. Wadsworth.
Wolfe, L.R. (2010) Afghanistan and American Policy. Retrieved on 09 April 2014 from http://www.coldwarstudies.com/2010/07/27/afghanistan-and-american-policy/
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