Afghanistan

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Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Pakistan and Iran.

Its capital is Kabul. Other towns and cities include: Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar.

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Afghanistan was at war with the USSR from 1979 - 1989, during which Pakistan, the United States, and other countries backed the mujahedin against the USSR. After the USSR withdrew, Afghanistan suffered from intense factional fighting. In 1997 the Taliban, a group of "Islamic students" took control of the country (except for a small region in the northeast), restoring relative peace and stability through the enforcement of severe Islamic laws restricting a wide range of freedoms in an effort to realize their idea of a true and pure Islamic state.

The non-Taliban mujahedin and other groups make up a coalition known as the Northern Alliance, which controlled only the northern part of the country until November, 2001, when the situation rapidly became reversed. Due partially to heavy US air bombardment of the Taliban front lines, which weakened them and damaged their supply lines, it advanced rapidly to control most of the country. The Taliban today control only some relatively small areas in the south and a few very small areas in the north.

The Northern Alliance is associated with the formerly recognized government.

On October 7, 2001 the United States began an attack on Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, which the United States asserts is the responsibility of Osama bin Laden, who resides in Afghanistan under Taliban protection.

Human rights organizations, including the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, are concerned that the Northern Alliance is as oppressive as the Taliban. The fact that the Northern Alliance is made up of mostly ethnic minorities makes it less-than-palatable to the majority Pashtan citizens of Afghanistan.

There are still two million refugees each in both Pakistan and Iran, and one million internally displaced in Afghanistan.


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