Discussion:
Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrown by Islamists, not Communists
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David Tenner
2018-04-20 21:07:15 UTC
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In OTL, President Mohammed Daoud Khan of Afghanistan was overthrown and
killed in 1978 in the so-called Saur Revolution
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saur_Revolution led by the (Communist)
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Democratic_Party_of_Afghanistan

What is less well-known is that in 1975 Daoud had faced an unsuccessful
Islamist uprising backed by Pakistan:

"The arrival of Afghan opposition militants in Peshawar coincided with a
period of diplomatic tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, due to
Daoud's revival of the Pashtunistan issue.[citation needed] Under the
secret policy of the United States and Britain, and the patronage of
Pakistani General Naseerullah Babar, then governor of the Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa, and with the blessing of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,
camps were set up to train Hekmatyar and other anti-Daoud Islamists.[16]
The Islamist movement had two main tendencies: the Jamiat-e islami
("Islamic society") led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, that advocated a
gradualist strategy to gain power, through infiltration of society and the
state apparatus. Rabbani advocated for the "building of a widely based
movement that would create popular support".[17] The other movement,
called Hezb-i Islami ("Islamic Party"), was led by Hekmatyar, who favored
a radical approach in the form of violent armed conflict. Pakistani
support largely went to Hekmatyar's group, who, in October 1975, undertook
to instigate an uprising against the government. Without popular support,
the rebellion ended in complete failure, and hundreds of militants were
arrested.[18]

"Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami was formed as an elitist avant-garde based on a
strictly disciplined Islamist ideology within a homogeneous organization
that Olivier Roy described as "Leninist", and employed the rhetoric of the
Iranian Revolution.[19] It had its operational base in the Nasir Bagh,
Worsak and Shamshatoo refugee camps in Pakistan. In these camps, Hezb-i
Islami formed a social and political network and operated everything from
schools to prisons, with the support of the Pakistani government and their
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).[20][21] From 1976-1977 Afghan President
Daoud made overtures to Pakistan which led to reconciliation with
Pakistani leader Bhutto.[17] Bhutto's support to Hekmatyar, however,
continued and when Bhutto was removed from power in Pakistan by Zia-ul-Haq
in 1977, Zia continued supporting Hekmatyar.[22]"

Could an Ialamist uprising against Daoud have succeeded? Of course the
Daoud gobernment was not nearly as offensive to most Afghan Muslims as the
Communist government that succeeded it would be--yet in the 1970's even as
conservative and "Islamic" a government as Saudi Arabia's faced an
extermist Islamist uprising:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Mosque_seizure
But working against the Islamists in Afghanistan was both their disunity
(Hekmatyar vs. Rabbani) and the fact that they had not inflitrated the
armed forces to nearly the extent the PDPA had. Also, Pakistan only
supported them as long as Daoud was angering the Pakistanis by pressing
the "Pashtunistan" issue.

Still, suppose the 1975 uprising had somehow succeeded. This was, I
believe, at a time Daoud still had good realtions with the Soviet Union
(later, his atttempts to reconcile with the Pakistanis and the Shah of
Iran and to crack down on the PDPA caused a break). What would the Soviet
reaction be?
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Rich Rostrom
2018-04-22 23:01:36 UTC
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Post by David Tenner
Still, suppose the 1975 uprising had somehow
succeeded. This was, I believe, at a time Daoud
still had good realtions with the Soviet Union
(later, his atttempts to reconcile with the
Pakistanis and the Shah of Iran and to crack down on
the PDPA caused a break). What would the Soviet
reaction be?
The first question is what _could_ the Soviet reaction be?

In 1975, the Soviets did not have "boots on the
ground" in Afghanistan to enable a major intervention,
IIRC. Later on, they had enough presence in the
country and local stooges that they could bring in
more troops and seize full control without an outright
invasion.

They may have had "good relations" with Daoud, but
nothing that would justify military intervention.

Or maybe they could intervene - it would depend on
what kind of resistance the pro-PDPA elements in the
armed forces could put up against the Islamist regime.

It has to be too weak to stop the Islamist takeover,
to satisfy the OP condition, but it could be strong
enough to hold some part of the country, form a new
government, and invite Soviet aid.

I don't think the Soviets would be happy with an
Islamist regime in Afghanistan, obviously, but how
much would they risk to stop it? Wiki quotes Robert
Kaplan as saying that the post-1979 rebellion was
triggered not by the Soviet presence but by the
various provocations committed by the PDPA regime
which seized power in 1978 (mass arrests and executions,
Communist-style flag, land seizures).

ITTL, that hasn't happened. Neither have the provocations
committed by the Taliban in power, which also alienated
the people. I think most Afghans in 1975 just want to be
left alone. If the Soviets and their PDPA pawns don't go
tramping on toes, they could probably lead a successful
counter-revolution. (I.e., the Islamist regime is likely
to be Pashtun and Sunni, and annoy non-Pashtun and Shi'a
elements - can the PDPA suppress their modernist reflexes
and work with them?)
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
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