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’.
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
Islami (Islamic Society) In 1973 Burhanuddin Rabbani, a
lecturer at the sharia (Islamic law) faculty of
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
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.
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.