Afghanistan: An Intro to the Country and People
With United States involvement in Afghanistan, knowledge of the country isimperative. This “handbook” explains a number of basic issues that should bein the knowledge “toolbox” of a Marine working with Afghanis or deployedto the country.
Three main forces have shaped present day Afghanistan: Tribalism, Islam,and geography. They have permanent and far-reaching effects on Afghansociety and on anyone involved with that society.
Even though it is a landlocked country, Afghanistan has been on thecrossroads of history. The country and people have been at the mercy of numerous empires and conquering states. Afghanistan was a prize worthpossessing for its river basins and fertile valley and for its location on theeast-west trade routes, especially the Silk Route to China. This geographicfactor has affected and changed the peoples of Afghanistan.
The interaction of the various ethnic groups that invaded the regioncontributed to the patchwork of people that make up present-day Afghanistan.Each of these external groups that invaded affected the inhabitants of what isnow Afghanistan in unique ways.
For example, Genghis Khan destroyed most of the towns in the thirteenthcentury, forcing much of population into nomadism.
A later Turkic dynasty, The Timurids, reconstituted the empire, but wasforced out by pressure from newer groups on the west, east, and north of thecountry.This constant shift and pressure of various external and internal groups hasmolded the Afghan attitude toward outsiders and indigenous groups of thecountry.
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