Afghanistan is looking back to a long and winding history. 2,600 years ago, the philosopher and moral teacher Zoroaster lived and taught in the Hindu Kush. Today's Mazar e-Sharif was at the beginning of our era a hub of the Silk Road. For a long time, Afghanistan was subject to the Persian Empire. In 1747, the Pashtun, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founded the sovereign Pashtun Kingdom which is considered a predecessor of the modern Afghan nation. The name Afghanistan was established in 1919 as the official designation of the state.
After the expulsion of the British colonialists, the 20th century was dominated by tensions and conflicts between traditionalists and forces of renewal, as well as by divergent purposes of tribal leaders and ethnic groups. Resistance against the communist revolution in the country provoked in 1979 the invasion of the Soviet Union. After the USSR had retreated in defeat, a civil war began of such chaos that at times no one could tell any more from the outside who was fighting whom for what.
In the second half of the 1990's, the Taliban installed a certain calm in the country. The toll was tremendous: Afghanistan now suffered from Islamic fundamentalism. After the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, American forces occupied the country with the aim to eliminate the terrorist training camps of Al Qaeda.
These days the country is again facing a Decision of Paris. Will the country achieve national unity and peace, against the selfish interests of powerful warlords? All the different currents of traditionalists and advocates of modern development - can they be bridged? Or will the country remain drowned in turmoil, in peril of another civil war?
As one source for the history of Afghanistan we recommend this book by Conrad Schetter: "Kleine Geschichte Afghanistans", Verlag C.H. Beck (in German).
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