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The Rise of the Taliban: The Role of Geography

Afghanistan has experienced endless wars for over two decades of chaos and turmoil, being led by different rulers and cultures. At present, time, Afghanistan is being ruled by the Taliban after several years of fighting off Soviet troops and overthrowing the Najibullah regime. It has been many years of fighting and struggle for the Taliban until they finally obtained dominance over Afghanistan starting from 1994, leading the people to abide by their laws and rules as dictated by the edicts of Pashtun beliefs and practices.

(Rashid, 1-2) There are various reasons why nations and cultural groups have fought over Afghanistan in the past, but the most significant reason is the abundance of sources of energy in the area including gas and oil. (Rashid, 5-6) How the Taliban was able to conquer Afghanistan from the grip of the Soviet troops and the regimes following thereafter is a remarkable achievement for them. However, the rise of the Taliban is highly attributed to the geography and topography of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is considered the heart of Asia because of its position in the continent’s central region.

It leads the path across “Iran, the Arabian Sea, and India, and between Central Asia and South Asia. ” The region was inundated with rocky and mountainous terrain and it is divided horizontally by the Hindu Kush mountain range. The climate in the area is mostly arid, but temperatures vary depending on the elevation of areas within the nation. (Rashid, 7-8) This geographical and topographical features of Afghanistan has contributed to the rise of the Taliban because the mountainous areas which divided the country has caused rifts breaking the country apart into various groups or communities that usually do not share the same beliefs or ideas.

In addition, the mountainous features of the country disable people to efficiently communicate in a timely manner. Moreover, the extreme climates in the land allow the people to become strong and enduring fighters who can withstand tremendous climatic conditions and the mountainous areas allow them to become trained and skilled warriors physically. (Rashid, 8) The cultural divide which has caused a series of disagreements and civil wars among the people of Afghanistan has captured the interest of foreign invaders, such as the Soviet Union.

USSR took advantage of the chaos in Afghanistan and its proximity to the area by gradually taking over the country by influencing the Afghan government. The Soviet Union backed the government of Afghanistan led by Daud by sending financial help, but at the same time, integrating the Soviet political and societal system to the country. (Rashid, 9) During the emergence of the Taliban, Pakistan, being in close proximity with Afghanistan has contributed to the government take-over by the Taliban by accommodating Pashtun people who crossed the border from Afghanistan to seek a refuge in the country.

Moreover, Pakistan helped the Pashtun people or the Taliban to obtain arms to fuel their initial efforts to go back to Afghanistan and overthrow the Soviet troops and its puppet Afghan government. (Rashid, 18-26) By and large, the Taliban was able to succeed by not only taking advantage of the cultural divisions brought about by the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and completing military training under the arid climate in the region in order to strengthen their endurance and resistance, but also by taking advantage of the nation’s close proximity to other Arab regions such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

By seeking refuge and help from neighboring nations, the Taliban was able to obtain arms and other weapons, machineries, and vehicles for combat by capturing choke points within the borders. From then on, the Taliban began moving from one community or district to the other in an effort to conquer each area, taking advantage of the separate communities in the country. Works Cited Rashid, Ahmed. (2001). Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press. pp 1-40.

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