“From Operation Cyclone to Operation Enduring Freedom”: A Told Story

Afghan war film from Operation Cyclone to Operation Enduring Freedom


“Afghanistan is flourishing, girls are going to schools with smile on their faces, economy is stable and tolerance level in society is normal and foreigners and non-Muslims are living in Kabul without any fears”. Do not be excited I am not talking about today’s Afghanistan. These photos are of Afghanistan that was in late 60s and early 70s. Yes, you could see American schools working in Kabul, foreigners shopping in bazaars (markets) of Kabul without Islamic hijab or canopy like Burkas. People used to travel to Kabul to see first show of Indian movies and there were 2 flights every day from Delhi to Kabul airport. These are bygone days—days before Russo-Afghan war and Islamisation of society allegedly injected by United States to bog down Russia in Kabul. Yes Russia was bogged down by US sponsored Mujahideen (worriers of Allah) and then Mujahdeen were bogged down by Taliban and then Taliban were bogged down by ISAF forces.

But there is a difference—when Russia was bogged down, it left Afghanistan—When Mujahideen were bogged down—they joined Taliban—When Taliban were bogged down—-They stayed in Afghanistan—fought backed and still controlling western provinces and for ISAF and Taliban—war is Not Over. Yes—this is big difference.  Now ISAF is leaving (if not bogged down that is what USA believes) but leaving war, Taliban, weapons behind so War may not be over for next two to three decades. Pakistan the promising friend of United States that played lead role in movie “Afghanistan—Vietnam of Russia” suffered the greatest losses—its social fabrics breaks away. Its economy and society has crumbled and it is facing more dangers than Afghanistan faces today. Political scientists believe that nations who do not know the currents and undercurrents of “Myth of Independence” usually crumble and big down when they work as second fiddle of any super power—so it happens to Pakistan—No regrets.

Scene started—Camera One Cut to Operation Cyclone

What happened in this land of blood and tears?, is a long saga to narrate. To understand how Russia was bogged down and how it was important for United States to inject Islamisation among people of former NWFP (now KPK province of Pakistan) and Afghanistan, one should listen interviews of Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. One should appreciates Zbigniew for open and candid interviews, articles and books. He does not hide anything from generations to come.  One of his interviews in a 1997 with CNN, he explained what is enough to understand 70s era and beginning of unending war in Afghanistan. He said in his interview:

“We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again – for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government”.

The supplying of billions of dollars in arms to the Afghan mujahideen militants was one of the CIA’s longest and most expensive covert operations. The CIA provided assistance to the insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. Pakistan’s secret service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was used as an intermediary for most of these activities to disguise the sources of support for the resistance. So the war was started and Pakistan opened its gate for around three million Afghans those never went back and brought AK-47 culture, drugs, purist Islam, lawlessness, extremism and terrorism and Pakistan has never come out of this disastrous move of it’s the then government.

Elected Prime Minister Z.A Bhutto who was tilted towards communist bloc was removed before all these development and purist Islamist Ziaul Haq was planted in Pakistan through 1977 martial law.

There are many characters big and small in this movie of Afghanistan destruction including one Joanne Herring. Herring played a role in helping U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson persuade the U.S. government to train and arm the Mujahideen resistance fighters to fight in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which began in 1979. However it looks that it was Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski rather than Wilson or Herring who designed the situation.

Religious Gambit

Now an irregular Army was needed because indigenous Afghan mujahedeen were not enough to fight with Russia so Saudi Arabia sent Muftis (religious scholars) to Peshawar and Karachi to give Fatwas (religious decrees) that killing infidel was justified even if he does not attack you—Salafisim and Deoband school of thought was injected, promoted and financed during this era. Mosques were constructed all over Pakistan to spread this message. People like Abdullah Yusuf Azzam (one of the architects of Al-Qaeeda) came from Saudi Arabia to teach in mosques of Pakistan. Azzam issued a fatwa, Defence of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Faith declaring that both the Afghan and Palestinian struggles were jihads in which killing occupiers of your land (no matter what their faith) was fard ayn (a personal obligation) for all Muslims. The edict was supported by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti (highest religious scholar), Abd al-Aziz Bin Bazz.   Now Jihad recipe was ready and Muslim youth from all over the world started gathering in Pakistan including people like Osama Bin Laden.

Scene changes—Camera Two Cut to Russian withdrawal

The withdrawal of Soviet combatant forces from the Afghanistan began on 15 May 1988 and successfully executed on 15 February 1989 under the leadership of Colonel-General Boris Gromov who also was the last Soviet general officer to walk from Afghanistan back into Soviet territory through the Afghan-Uzbek Bridge. Under the Geneva Accords on 15 April 1988, the Afghanistan and Pakistan signed three instruments-on principles of mutual relations, in particular non-interference and non-intervention, on the voluntary return of Afghan refugees, and on interrelationships for the settlement, which provided for phased withdrawal of foreign troops to begin on 15 May. The United States and the USSR also signed a declaration on international guarantees, stating they would both refrain from any form of interference and intervention.

Scene changes—Camera Three Cut to Afghan Civil

The 1989 to 1992 phase of the Afghan Civil War began after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, leaving the Afghan communist government to fend for itself against the Mujahideen. After several years of fighting, the government fell in 1992. By the spring of 1989, the Afghan government showed no signs of falling apart, and the American and Pakistan supporters of some of the mujahideen decided to hasten its demise. An operation was planned, under the impulsion of U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Robert B. Oakley, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, to capture Jalalabad. Pakistan intended to install a new government under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar with its provisional capital based in Jalalabad.  The Pakistan-backed Afghan Interim Government included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as Prime Minister and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf as Foreign Minister. The central organizer of the offensive on the Pakistani side was Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, Director-General of the ISI.

Scene changes—Camera Four Cut to Deepen Afghan Civil War

In April 1992, Kabul came under heavy bombardment campaign against the Kabul which marked the beginning of this new phase in the war. Civil war continued for more four years in full speed but then Taliban emerged and Eastern Afghanistan came under their control and only one left to fight with them—-Ahmad Shah Mahsud.

The Taliban

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban seized the Afghan capital Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s Emirate received recognition only from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The defense minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Massoud, created the United Front (Northern Alliance) in opposition to the Taliban. The United Front included all Afghan ethnicities: Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmens, some Pashtuns and others. Massoud fought for a republic and national consolidation to achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan. During the conflict, the Taliban received complementary military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda supported the Taliban with regiments of imported fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia. In the late period of the war of an estimated 45,000 force fighting on the side of the Taliban only 14,000 were Afghan (Taliban).

Scene changes—Camera Five Cut to Operation Enduring Freedom

In response to the attacks of 11 September, the early combat operations that took place on 7 October 2001 to include a mix of strikes from land-based B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, carrier-based F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighters, and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from both U.S. and British ships and submarines signaled the start of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A).

The initial military objectives of OEF-A, as articulated by Former President George W. Bush in his 20 September Address to a Joint Session of Congress and his 7 October address to the country, included the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al-Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.”

Closing Scene Cut to Camera One– December 2013

War is still on. Taliban are rooting Afghan as well as ISAF forces wherever they have chance. Taliban power is multiplying and causality rate for Americans are increasing day by day. There were only 12 causalities in year 2001 comparing to 118 till the start of December 2013. Facts speak themselves—no need to explain further.

Camera will keep rolling for indefinite during as nobody knows when this scene will end

This historical film of Afghan war “From Operation Cyclone to Operation Enduring Freedom”: A Told Story is still under production. It has all blends a block buster movie usually has– Suspense–Horror–Intrigues—Action and Comedy— as it has a sadist comedian—Gen Ziaul Haq. Since 1979, Afghanistan is still under destruction of Cyclone that has never been stopped and Freedom for children of Afghanistan looks a dream far away. Buy more popcorn and “Keep Watching –“


This article is written by Agha Iqrar Haroon

Development Observer of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Writer can be contacted at agha.iqrar@gmail.com


afghan war, usa, salafi, 1979 afghan war, afghan civil war 1992, Operation Cyclone, Operation Enduring Freedom