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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral Asia‘Graveyard of empires’: geopolitics, war and the tragedy of Afghanistan

‘Graveyard of empires’: geopolitics, war and the tragedy of Afghanistan

Authors: James Fergusson & R. Gerald Hughes

Affiliation: Independent, Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies at Aberystwyth University (Wales)

Organization/Publisher: Intelligence and National Security, Routledge

Date/Place: May, 2019/USA

Type of Literature: Review Article  

Word Count: 6400  


Keywords: Afghanistan, Foreign Intervention, the West, Mujahiddin




This article is about Afghanistan and foreign–or the great empires’ –interventions throughout history. The authors give a historical and political overview of the foreign interventions in Afghanistan. According to the authors, Afghanistan has been the center of the battlefield for centuries – from Alexander the Great, the British Empire, Russian and now the US.  However, they argue that the policy of the foreign interventions beginning from British, Russian and now the US has not much changed. The authors identify the reason why Afghanistan is constantly experiencing invasion is because of its political or strategic location connecting central and south Asia, as well as the Middle East and China. The authors end with their comments about how the prolonged US war might even be longer than expected. The nationalist movements in Afghanistan, in fact, originated from invaders’ policies in the country. Russians, for example, began to provoke the Islamist group of the country to fight for their freedom against the involvements of the US and Germany. Similarly, the British and US directly formed the “freedom fighters” or the Mujahideen faction to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. The Mujahideen group was funded and trained by the Western countries, mainly the US and the UK. The group then started its violent presence to oust the Russian-set regime in Afghanistan, in which it succeeded and caused the civil war. Now, the resilient force, called the Taliban and ISIS, in Afghanistan and the region is fighting against the US’ troops in the country. Hence, the nationalist groups will continue to present themselves in different formats to resist the foreign presence. As the authors of the article believe, only Afghans themselves can replace an empire, not the foreigners.


By: Abdullah Jurat, CIGA Research Associate



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