Freedom Brings New Challenges
In 1991 the Soviet Union broke apart. As a result,
the republics that it had conquered became fifteen
independent states. These states include nine
countries in Central Asia. One group of Central
Asia States is known as the Transcaucasian
Republics. The other group of states is called the
Central Asian Republics.
Since independence, the countries of Central
Asia have faced economic problems. These countries are some of the poorest in the world. They
were helped economically by the Soviet Union.
When they gained independence, they had a hard
time standing on their own. In addition, economic
practices during the Soviet era have created problems. For example, the Soviets made certain areas
of Central Asia grow only one crop, such as cotton.
Growing a single crop hurt the nations of Central
Asia. They did not develop a balanced economy.
Central Asia is home to many different peoples.
Some of these people have a history of hatred toward
each other. When the Soviets ruled the region, they
controlled these hatreds. However, after the Soviet
Union broke apart, various groups began to fight.
Some of these fights became regional wars.
What challenges have the countries of Central Asia faced?
Afghanistan strives for Independence
Afghanistan had a long history of struggle. During
the 1800s, both Russia and Britain wanted to control
Afghanistan. Russia wanted to get to the Indian
Ocean through Afghanistan. Britain wanted to protect the northern borders of its Indian Empire.
Britain fought three wars with the Afghanis.
Eventually, Britain left the country in 1919.
In 1919, Afghanistan became an independent
nation. It set up a monarchy, or rule by a king. In
1964, the country created a constitution. This constitution set up a more democratic style of government. However, the democratic system failed to
In 1973, military leaders put an end to the
democratic government. Five years later, a group
took control of the country. This group was supported by the Soviet Union. Many Afghanis were
against this group.
The Soviet-supported government had strong
enemies. Many of these enemies formed a rebel
group known as the mujahideen, or holy warriors.
The mujahideen fought strongly against the Sovietsupported government. The Soviet Union wanted
to defeat the rebels in Afghanistan. To get this
done, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
The Soviets greatly outnumbered the rebels.
Despite this, the rebels were tough to beat. The
two groups fought for 10 years. Eventually, the
Soviet troops left the country.
How has Afghanistan struggled for freedom?
After the Soviets left, various Afghan rebel
troops began fighting each other for control of the
country. By 1998, an Islamic group known as the
Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan. Another
rebel group, the Northern Alliance, held the northwest corner of the country.
The Taliban had an unusual understanding of
the Islamic religion. Many other Muslims disagreed with this understanding. The Taliban
believed that they should control nearly every part
of Afghan life. Women were forbidden to go to
school or hold jobs. The Taliban did not allow
watching television and movies or listening to modern music. Punishment for disobeying the rules
included whipping and execution.
What are some of the ways that the Taliban controlled Afghan society?
(Requires 2 Sentences)
Afghanistan and the World
The Taliban allowed terrorist groups to train in
Afghanistan. They allowed terrorist leaders, such as
Osama bin Laden, to stay in their country. Bin Laden
led a terrorist group called al-Qaeda. Many believe
this group has carried out attacks on the West. For
example, Al-Qaeda is believed to have done the
attacks on the World Trade Center. Those attacks
happened in New York on September 11, 2001.
After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government told the Taliban to turn over bin Laden.
The Taliban refused. Then the United States took
military action. In October 2001, U.S. forces began
bombing Taliban air defense, airfields, and command centers. Al-Qaeda training camps were also
bombed. On the ground, the United States helped
anti-Taliban forces, such as the Northern Alliance.
By December, the United States had driven the
Taliban from power.
The Afghanis then created a new government.
Hamid Karzai was the leader of this government.
What was Afghanistan's role in terrorism?