The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Northern Alliance:
U.S.'s new-found ally in Afghanistan

Oct 22, 2001

The U.S. war against Afghanistan has raised the question of a new government in that country assuming the fall of the Taliban government. The options presented by the U.S. and its allies, however, don't look very uplifting: a 86-year old former king known for his corruption and the "Northern Alliance," a coalition of armies busy killing each other before the Taliban ousted them from Kabul, the capital, in 1996.

Until September 11, the U.S., along with its close allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, supported the Taliban. The Northern Alliance, on the other hand, controlled about 10% of the country and were reported to be supplied weapons and money by Russia and Iran and by opium production. Now that the U.S. has declared war on the Taliban, it started to actively support the Northern Alliance as a possible future government in Afghanistan.

But the past record of the Northern Alliance is no better than that of the Taliban – a long history of brutality and bloodshed. Many of the people who make up the Northern Alliance were former "mujahideen" who fought against Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989. Once the Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, the different warlords leading the mujahideen began fighting each other.

During this period there were nine different attempts to make a coalition government from among the warring factions. There are several ethnic groups living in Afghanistan, practicing different forms of Islam, including the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, the Hazaras and the Pashtuns. The Taliban has much of its support from the majority group, the Pashtuns.

From 1992 to 1996, when these warlords fought over Kabul, about 50,000 people died in that city alone. It was common practice for the troops of these warlords to plunder, kidnap and rape civilians. These thugs also carried out what's known as "ethnic cleansing," that is, they attacked civilians belonging to other ethnic groups. This terror turned almost three million Afghans into refugees.

At the moment, the strongest leaders not in the Taliban are the Tajik leader Rabbani and the younger brother of Massoud, another Tajik leader just assassinated in September, an Uzbek leader Dostum and an Hazara leader Khalil. Some have even changed sides a few times, like Dostum, who helped the Taliban conquer central Afghanistan

Like the Taliban, the warlords who make up the alliance all represent themselves as religious fundamentalists. During an interview before his assassination, Commander Massoud told reporters that his wife wore the head-to-toe veil, the burqa. That's not surprising, considering that in the Panshir region under Masood's rule all women were forced to wear the burqa.

Lacking any other options, the U.S. government is proposing to install these same criminals back in Kabul. But even if the Northern Alliance doesn't come to power, it's obvious what's in store for the people of Afghanistan when the U.S. bombing is finally over: more war, more plunder and rape, more ethnic cleansing, more oppression of women.

In short, more terror against the population.