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  The Northern Alliance

Afghanland.com The capture of Kabul by the Taliban on 26 September 1996 quickly realigned political forces within Afghanistan and the region. The Minority forces allied again as they did in the Northern Alliance of 1992. The anti-Taliban Northern Alliance is composed of the ousted  president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and their Jamiat-i-Islami forces, and General Abdul Rashid Dostom's Junbish-i-Milli party and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar the former Prime Minister. The Northern Alliance is headed by nominal President Rabbani, who held power with de facto Defense Minister Masood as his primary military backer. After the defeat of Commander Masood, the Alliance was clearly under the leadership of the Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostom.

Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic Movement) - After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Uzbak militias in the north centered in the city of Mazar-i Sharif, constituted themselves into a new organization, the Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic Movement), founded by General Abdul Rashid Dostom, whose base of support lies primarily among the Uzbeks. A large number of fighters forming part of this organization (the numbers vary between 15,000 and 160,000) had a reputation of being the best equipped of Afghanistan. General Abdul Rashid Dostom received support from Uzbekistan and from Russia. He had formed an alliance with Hikmatyar in 1994 and was part of the alliance formed against Rabbani, the ‘Supreme Coordination Council’. Dostom and Commander Abdul Malik Pahlawan shared nominal control of five to six north central provinces. In May 1997, Dostom was defeated in battle by Malik, who defected to the Taliban and subsequently fled the country. The Taliban managed briefly to enter Mazaar-i-Sharif, though they were forced out within days after heavy street fighting. General Dostom, who had held overall control of the city, then fled the country and his faction split. In September 1997 General Dostom returned from exile in Turkey.

Jamiat-i Islami (Islamic Society) In 1973 Burhanuddin Rabbani, a lecturer at the sharia (Islamic law) faculty of Kabul University, was chosen as chairman of Jamiat-i Islami, a predominately Tajik Islamist party which developed as the dominant party in the Persian speaking areas of northeastern and western Afghanistan. At first Rabbani received some financial and material support from the Government of Saudi Arabia, but this appears to have ended in 1993. Former President Rabbani claims to be the head of the Government and controls most of the country's embassies abroad and retains Afghanistan's UN seat after the U.N. General Assembly deferred a decision on Afghanistan's credentials. Rabbani received nominal support from General Malik (until he was driven out of Afghanistan), from General Dostum, and the Shi'a/Hazara Hezb-i-Wahdat.

Rabbani’s famous Mujahideen military commander Ahmad Shah Masood built the most sophisticated military-political organization, the Supervisory Council of the North (SCN-Shura-yi Nazar-i Shamali). The SCN coordinated Jamiat commanders in about five provinces and also created region-wide forces which developed into Masood’s Islamic Army (Urdu-yi Islami). Rabbani and Masood control the northeastern, largely Tajik, portion of the country, including the strategic Panjshir valley north of Kabul. The area includes the opium-growing area of Badakhshan. Some of Masood's commanders in the north reportedly use torture routinely to extract information from and break the will of prisoners and political opponents; some of the victims are said to have been tortured to death.


External Support

The conflict in Afghanistan has continued to have an international dimension, both from political and economic perspectives.

Iranian funding for Ahmad Shah Masoud with cash. The funds come from Iran to Tajikistan and moved to Panjsher by helicopters. US Government reports confirmed this and that agents MOIS, IRGC agencies of Iran were stationed in Panjsher to help distribute the supplies.

  • The United States is intent on offsetting Iranian influence on the spread of terrorism and expansion of markets in the region.
  • Russia had backed B. Rabbani’s government in Kabul and feared that a Pakistani backed Pashtun movement such as the Taliban would be expansionist, threatening Russia’s interests in Central-Asian countries. Russia has provided Dostom with 500 T55 and T62 tanks that are used against areas that oppose his rule. Russia has also provided Dostom with a large number of Frog 7 and Luna M missiles.
  • Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov had clandestinely supported his fellow Uzbek, General Abdul Rashid Dostom, with tanks, aircraft and technical personnel, with an expectation that Uzbek dominated provinces in northern Afghanistan would provide a buffer against the spread of fundamentalism from Afghanistan.
  • Tajikistan, racked by civil war and with a government backed by Russian troops, has been sympathetic to fellow Tajiks led by President B. Rabbani. Many Afghan Tajiks also support the idea of a greater Tajikistan - merging Tajik areas of Afghanistan with Tajikistan.
  • India in the early 1990s provided technical and financial assistance to Rabbani and his military commander Masood. India, according to charges by the Taliban, is using "hirelings in Afghanistan to commit terrorist acts against Afghan men, women, and children."

After several raids by the Taliban to northern Afghanistan, the Alliance was extremely weak and on its way to extinction. On September 9 2001, 2 individuals disguised as reporters exploded a bomb hidden in a camera that killed the Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Masood. This marked the death of the Northern Alliance as a Force in Afghanistan until October when the United States revived the Alliance to be used as a Ground Force from the North for their fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. With the Power vacuum in Kabul after the US bombings, the Northern Alliance quickly seized control of Kabul and the Major government offices.


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