Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Popular rebellion weakening Soviet-backed Afghani regime

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 17, August 24-September 6, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The rebellion of the people of Afghanistan against the Soviet-backed Taraki regime has mounted steadily throughout the summer and has severely weakened the government. In the last two weeks, the popularly-supported guerrillas captured several cities and made strikes within 10 miles of Kabul, the capital city.

The government was forced to close a major north-south supply route for most of last month because of frequent ambushes. The rebellion has now spread to 24 of the country’s 28 provinces. For the most part, the countryside is in the hands of the guerrillas, who control 80% of the villages.

Even within Taraki’s own forces there is unrest. In Zabul Province recently, 1,200 soldiers joined the rebels, bringing with them seven new anti-aircraft weapons and several tanks. On August 5, an Afghanistan Army battalion in Kabul mutinied against the government. Desertions are reported to have reached 50%.

The 92,000-man Afghani Army and its 4,500 Soviet advisers are trying to maintain control of the cities with Soviet MI-8 helicopters and T-54 tanks. Russia’s newest Ml-24 helicopter gunships operate in the surrounding countryside. Soviet cargo planes often have to transport soldiers and ammunition to areas of rebellion because the troops there have refused to fight.

Support for resistance

The rule of the Taraki regime, which came to power 16 months ago in a Soviet-backed coup, has meant great suffering for the Afghani people. In a strafing raid last month, Soviet MIG-21’s killed 1,300 people in the western city of Herat.

In early August a group of Soviet advisers, along with their tanks and helicopters, entered Ninglalam in Kunan Province. As the entire city of 30,000 fled, their village was burned to the ground. The Soviets later went to the hills to tell the villagers they would help them rebuild – if they gave up their religion and supported the regime. Instead, the Afghanis joined up with other rebels in the area.

Reports from across the country tell of thousands arrested and held with no charges, only to be beaten and tortured. At the Pol-i-Charki prison in Kabul an estimated 3,000 have been executed so far for “rebel activities.”

As a result of this severe repression, more than 142,000 Afghanis have fled to become refugees in neighboring Pakistan.

Bogged down in the quagmire of the Afghani people’s resistance, the Soviets are reportedly thinking of a cosmetic change in the country’s rulers. But the Afghani people know who is behind their oppression, and the resistance is sure to continue.