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Category: History

My Afghanistan




In this essay the author who long time was related to United Nations operation in Afghanistan shares the reflections of rather modern development of this country.

This article is devoted to the impressions of the author, who has been concerning to the activity of the UN in Afghanistan during the time, which probably was the best in its recent history.

Afghanistan, shurav, use of foreign troops, Taliban; Afghanistan, shuravi, use of foreign troops, Taliban.


Valerianovich is a PhD Econ., the senior research associate, the corresponding member of the International academy of informatization; leading researcher of the IMEMO of RAS, secretary of the Russian commission of assistance of conversion of

In the late sixties — the beginning of the 70th of last century I had to be engaged as obliges in the UN Development Programme in coordination of assistance of the UN to Afghanistan. This help to developing countries appears on various channels, but it is technical, i.e. not investment: 80 its % are spent for the salary of experts (most often, western), 15% — for grants to local experts for their training (too, first of all, in the West) and 5% — for "equipment", generally for office supplies. And, despite such purposes and structure of this help, developing countries are interested in it as, in addition, such projects of the UN quite often lead to the investments financed by both IBRD, and the private capital, in most cases also foreign. Naturally, Afghanistan showed great interest to this program of the UN, and I tried to make it as much as possible effective. It demanded numerous trips to the country from the headquarters of PROON in New York, acquaintances to government officials of Afghanistan, meetings with many Afghans, including members of the royal house. I had a great and strong sympathy for these people, love for the country and great interest in its destiny — difficult, often tragic.

Therefore I with special feeling got acquainted with the Pro et Contra magazine No. 2(45) for March-April, 2009 which was almost entirely devoted to Afghanistan as the international problem. The main problems of the country, especially foreign policy party of a modern situation rather in detail understand the magazine. The West, as well as British in XIX — the beginning of the 20th centuries and the Soviet Union in 1979 — 1989, got as it is represented to me, to a trap: The USA, NATO got involved in internal affairs of Afghanistan, but they should leave, having left the country once again with impressive losses in human force and in already poor material resources.

Afghanistan is the small country with the population 28 — 30 million people (expert estimates; they had no standardized census), not having an outlet to the sea that means the fate of the states which are least developed economically in Asia and Africa (only in Europe such countries without outlet to the sea prosper — we will take, for example, Switzerland and Austria or Hungary and the Czech Republic). But history disposed so that Afghanistan in XIX, but especially in the 20th century and now moved forward on a proscenium of regional and world political process.

Whether in A. Malashenko's article "There will be a crisis eternal?" the magazine stated above it is noted that "the relation of the Afghan population to foreign presence — though Soviet though American — was equally unfriendly" (page 8). This phrase is key, however one, but the main word is not in it — to

to military foreign presence. Really, our "presence" in the country in 1979 — 1989, as well as "presence" of the USA and NATO troops since 2001 till present, caused and causes repulse of local community.

Without pressing in consideration active, often drama events of internal life of the country (and it was complemented at the beginning of the 20th century and the afgano-English fighting collisions), it is possible to claim that the government of the king Muhammad Zahir Shah which took almost half a century (1933 — 1973) was most favorable for the country — the people lived quietly, of course, poor, but, the main thing, peaceful life. As the major factor in this process served the afgano-Soviet friendship; having gained recognition of the northern neighbor in 1919, Kabul developed communications with our country, first of all economic, but not only, successfully. To Afghanistan there was a significant Soviet assistance — housing (in Kabul there was even the Quarter of "Cheryomushki"), educational institutions, dozens of the plants, factories, infrastructure elements were under construction. Because of it "shurava" (Soviet) as, however, and other foreigners, including Americans, were held in respect and sympathies of local community. I was influenced by it and has to tell that even walks across night Kabul did not constitute danger, and medical problems were the main threat. (I will not forget how after visit of prestigious Kabul restaurant together with the younger son of the king prince Nadir I could not avoid gastric problems.)

I understood and I understand logic of making decisions on introduction of Soviet troops to Afghanistan in 1979; but I understood already then I understand, especially, now that those who made this decision could not count succession of events on several steps forward. This fatal flaw led not only to the huge victims (15 thousand Soviet soldiers and officers and about 1 million, and by some estimates and more, Afghans), to destructions and practically to elimination of friendly communications between our people. It became one of the most important factors of crash of the Soviet state. Opinions are expressed that if the USSR did not move away X. Amine which was "the great and effective organizer" Talibs would not come

to the power in the country. There is even such judgment that if we did not stop the help to Najibullah in 1992, then Taliban could not overthrow its government. I will repeat, however my main conclusion is absolutely clear — introduction of Soviet troops in 1979 was a fatal mistake.

Of course, the global situation in 2001 differed significantly from a situation in 1979; position of troops of the USA and NATO is much more favorable now, than position of our troops in 1979 — 1989. First of all, Mujahideens with Afghanistan during all campaign 1979 — 1989 in the most active way were helped all means (money, arms, volunteers, etc.) by the USA, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, other countries. Now the vast majority of the countries is on side of the USA and the West.

B. Karmal and Najibullah's governments supported by Moscow made serious mistakes in holding a land reform, in questions of religion and the national relations. Attempts to construct the "Afghan" socialism in patriarchal and feudal Afghan society, to force modernization, disregarding a huge role of Islam and clergy, led to the beginning of civil war.

It is correct that the Pro et Contra magazine attracted to the analysis of a situation and the Pakistani plot. It is thought that without broad participation of Pakistan the solution of the Afghan problem is hardly possible today. And it is necessary to consider: Pakistan is the nuclear state that does all problem sharper and dangerous.

Acquaintance to the "Afghan" articles of the magazine leads to a conclusion: main line of authors is as follows: troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, let gradually, let after increase in their number and, certainly, military victories, but at the same time it is impossible to bring them, it will strengthen the international terrorism, narcoproblems and, of course, will mean moral defeat of the West. That is, almost vicious circle turns out.

Moreover, there is an opinion that rarely soldiers of the USA and NATO shed blood for the interests of Russia in this area. It is necessary to leave this manilovism — the USA and NATO protects not our interests, and tries to become stronger in this strategically important region for a countergame against

China and Russia. An important factor is the assumption that in Afghanistan huge reserves of gas, uranium, copper and other ores, gemstones and precious metals are predicted. And ourselves as soon as the West has to retire from Afghanistan should protect our interests in the southern underbelly of Russia. By the way, according to some information, the narcostream to us from this country sharply increased how Talibs in 2001 were displaced by the American troops. The western, first of all American, position on Afghanistan is in details given in the last number of our bulletin "Ways to Safety" in A. Frolov's article "The Afghan dilemmas of Washington". It is connected with military measures of a solution and conducts so far

to increase in the American troops in the country.

My other conclusion: foreign troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible, the most right decision of problems of the country is only this way possible — via internal mechanisms.

In one of my last official visits of the country the king's uncle, His Royal Highness marshal Sardar Shah Valya presented me the book of the memoirs with a touching inscription (translation from English): To Yury Andreyev, friend of Afghanistan. I was and I remain their friend. I hope, providence will turn both this tragic page of their history, and the proud people of Afghanistan will be able to solve the problems without foreign "help" and intervention.

Charles Allen
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