Louis R Godena
louisgodena at ids.net
Sat Oct 5 13:40:22 MDT 1996
The April 30, 1978 revolution that overthrew the "non-aligned" feudal regime
in Kabul was led by the Peoples' Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a
pro-Soviet Communist party that had been founded in 1965, and which,
subsequently, had become increasingly involved in the politics and military
affairs of the country. At the time of the revolution, the PDPA had a
membership of approximately 18,000 (out of a population of just over 15
The 1978 revolution had three, or rather four, outstanding personalities
at its head. Noor Mohammed Taraki, General Secretary of the PDPA, and
indeed a founding member of its central committee, who became the new
republic's first President; Babrak Karmal, Secretary of the Central
Committee, and also a PDPA founder; General Abdul Kadir, the highest
ranking military official to side with the April revolution, and Hafizullah
Amin, who was trained, as a member of the old Afghan military elite, in
At the time of the April revolution the PDPA had just been "reunited" after
a ten year split along ethnic and ideolgogical lines.
In September, 1978, President Taraki was deposed by military forces loyal
to Hafizullah Amin. Taraki died under mysterious circumstances the
following month and it is widely assumed that he was murdered. Amin's
ascendency--rumored to be at the behest of the American CIA--reoponed the
old split in the PDPA with a vengeance. There had been growing evidence
since January, 1978, in fact, that Amin was part of a larger plot already
being hatched in neighboring Pakistan by the so-called "Committee for
Struggle" a fundamentalist-led cabal funded and armed by the CIA and the
Pakistani military and secret services.
Amin, whatever his origins or appetites, was not long for this world.
Both his opponents and the Soviets had mounting evidence of his complicity
with forces hostile to the revolution. Amin had held a number of secret
meetings with American officials, including Richard Lessard, a well-known
CIA operative in Saudi Arabia who had only recently (January 1978) been put
in charge of the agency's Afghanistan operation. Amin, also, had
reportedly attempted to mitigate a number of popular reforms, including the
blanket forgiveness of debts owed by the peasantry to the landlord class,
totally some 700 million dollars.
At any rate, Amin, in his turn, was deposed by Babrak Karmal. Amin was
executed shortly before a new Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and
Cooperation was concluded between the Karmal government and the USSR. It
was this document that provided the official basis for Babrak Karmal's
urgent plea for Soviet troops later that month.
It was probably the loss of Hafizullah Amin's services (a secret 1979 CIA
report, leaked to the Washington Post six years later, declared that Amin
could "in time work to the advantage of US interests"), together with the
catastrophic loss of Iran a year earlier, that prompted the strong reaction
>from the US.
I am not concerned with the "offensive" or "defensive" character of the
It is, rather, the nature of the change being sought and resisted.
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