Desert Song: a novel of the lonely struggle of the women of Afghanistan
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Northern Alliance, the opposition to the ruling Taliban party, takes Muzar-e-sharif and is advancing toward Kabul, which means that the Sheikh will soon flee to Iraq. The informer is Nasser who is now in Kabul fighting the religious war. He helps Matt find the missing girl but is unable to locate the missing boy.
The executioner of Rehana turns out to be Nasser. Matt vows to avenge her death. The Sheikh gives a summary trial and passes a death sentence on Matt. A Russian soldier who had been working with the Taliban soldiers offers Matt a secretive deal: US citizenship for freedom. Matt has already planned bombing of the cave complex to create a diversion for his rescue attempt. Nasser kills his friend Sultan who should be there to send a coded signal to the US base in Peshawar. Upon discovery of this development Matt makes a deal with the Russian.
Matt successfully saves Nathan but the Russian is caught stealing uranium by Nasser and the Sheikh. The reforms and the PDPA's affinity to the Soviet Union were met with strong resistance by the population, especially as the government attempted to enforce its Marxist policies by arresting or executing those who resisted. Between 50, and , people were estimated to have been arrested and killed by communist troops in the countryside alone. Over half of the Afghan army either deserted or joined the insurrection. Believing that an uprising against the Soviet-backed communists would be supported by the people, Massoud, on July 6, , started an insurrection in the Panjshir, which initially failed.
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Massoud decided to avoid conventional confrontation with the larger government forces and to wage a guerrilla war. Oliver Roy writes that in the following period, Massoud's "personal prestige and the efficiency of his military organisation persuaded many local commanders to come and learn from him. Following the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Massoud devised a strategic plan for expelling the invaders and overthrowing the communist regime. The first task was to establish a popularly based resistance force that had the loyalty of the people.
The second phase was "active defense" of the Panjshir stronghold, while carrying out asymmetric warfare.
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In the third phase, the "strategic offensive", Massoud's forces would gain control of large parts of Northern Afghanistan. The fourth phase was the "general application" of Massoud's principles to the whole country, and the defeat of the Afghan communist government. From the start of the war, Massoud's mujahideen attacked the occupying Soviet forces, ambushing Soviet and Afghan communist convoys travelling through the Salang Pass , and causing fuel shortages in Kabul.
Between and , these offensives were conducted twice a year. Despite engaging more men and hardware on each occasion, the Soviets were unable to defeat Massoud's forces. In , the Soviets began deploying major combat units in the Panjshir, numbering up to 30, men. Massoud pulled his troops back into subsidiary valleys, where they occupied fortified positions. When the Soviet columns advanced onto these positions, they fell into ambushes. When the Soviets withdrew, Afghan army garrisons took over their positions. Massoud and his mujahideen forces attacked and recaptured them one by one.
In , the Soviets offered Massoud a temporary truce, which he accepted in order to rebuild his own forces and give the civilian population a break from Soviet attacks. He put the respite to good use. In this time he created the Shura-e Nazar Supervisory Council , which subsequently united commanders from 12 Afghan provinces in their fight against the Soviet army. This council existed outside the Peshawar parties, which were prone to internecine rivalry and bickering, and served to smooth out differences between resistance groups, due to political and ethnic divisions.
It was the predecessor of what could have become a unified Islamic Afghan army. Relations with the party headquarters in Peshawar were often strained, as Rabbani insisted on giving Massoud no more weapons and supplies than to other Jamiat commanders, even those who did little fighting. To compensate for this deficiency, Massoud relied on revenues drawn from exports of emeralds  and lapis lazuli ,  that are traditionally exploited in Northern Afghanistan.
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To organize support for the mujahideen, Massoud established an administrative system that enforced law and order nazm in areas under his control. The Panjshir was divided into 22 bases qarargah governed by a military commander and a civilian administrator, and each had a judge, a prosecutor and a public defender.
An education committee was charged with the training of the military and administrative cadre. A culture committee and a judiciary committee were also created. This expansion prompted Babrak Karmal to demand that the Red Army resume their offensives, in order to crush the Panjshir groups. However, Massoud had received warning of the attack through his intelligence agents in the government and he evacuated all , inhabitants from the valley into the Hindukush mountains, leaving the Soviet bombings to fall on empty ground and the Soviet battalions to face the mountains.
With the defeat of the Soviet-Afghan attacks, Massoud carried out the next phase of his strategic plan, expanding the resistance movement and liberating the northern provinces of Afghanistan. In August , he captured Farkhar in Takhar Province. In November , his forces overran the headquarters of the government's 20th division at Nahrin in Baghlan Province , scoring an important victory for the resistance. Despite almost constant attacks by the Red Army and the Afghan army, Massoud increased his military strength.
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Starting in with a force of less than 1, ill-equipped guerrillas, the Panjshir valley mujahideen grew to a 5,strong force by The best of the mahalli were formed into units called grup-i zarbati shock troops , semi-mobile groups that acted as reserve forces for the defense of several strongholds. These men were professional soldiers, well-paid and trained, and, from on, they provided an effective strike force against government outposts.
Uniquely among the mujahideen, these groups wore uniforms, and their use of the pakul made this headwear emblematic of the Afghan resistance. Massoud's military organization was an effective compromise between the traditional Afghan method of warfare and the modern principles of guerrilla warfare which he had learned from the works of Mao Zedong and Che Guevara.
His forces were considered the most effective of all the various Afghan resistance movements.
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The United States provided Massoud with comparatively less support than other factions. But they didn't. They supported some bad people [meaning Hekmatyar]. Phillips, both of whom championed Massoud as the Afghan resistance leader most worthy of U. The Soviet army and the Afghan communist army were mainly defeated by Massoud and his mujahideen in numerous small engagements between and In , after describing the Soviet Union's military engagement in Afghanistan "a bleeding wound", Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev began a withdrawal of Soviet troops from the nation.
On February 15, , in what was depicted as an improbable victory for the mujahideen, the last Soviet soldier left the nation. After the departure of Soviet troops in , the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan regime, then headed by Mohammad Najibullah , held its own against the mujahideen. Backed by a massive influx of weapons from the Soviet Union, the Afghan armed forces reached a level of performance they had never reached under direct Soviet tutelage.
They maintained control over all of Afghanistan's major cities. During the late , helped by Hekmatyar as well as hundreds of Pakistani-trained mujahideen forces, Massoud targeted the Tajik Supreme Soviet , trying to oust communism from the neighboring Tajikistan to further destabilize the dying Soviet Union, which would also impact the Afghan government. Food and fuel shortages undermined the capacities of the government's army, and a resurgence of factionalism split the regime between Khalq and Parcham supporters.
A few days after Najibullah had lost control of the nation, his army commanders and governors arranged to turn over authority to resistance commanders and local warlords throughout the country. Joint councils shuras were immediately established for local government, in which civil and military officials of the former government were usually included. In many cases, prior arrangements for transferring regional and local authority had been made between foes.
Collusions between military leaders quickly brought down the Kabul government. In mid-January , within three weeks of the demise of the Soviet Union, Massoud was aware of conflict within the government's northern command. General Abdul Momim , in charge of the Hairatan border crossing at the northern end of Kabul's supply highway, and other non- Pashtun generals based in Mazar-i-Sharif , feared removal by Najibullah and replacement by Pashtun officers.
When the generals rebelled, Abdul Rashid Dostum , who held general rank as head of the Jowzjani militia, also based in Mazar-i-Sharif, took over.
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He and Massoud reached a political agreement, together with another major militia leader, Sayyed Mansour, of the Ismaili community based in Baghlan Province. These northern allies consolidated their position in Mazar-i-Sharif on March Their coalition covered nine provinces in the north and northeast. As turmoil developed within the government in Kabul, no government force stood between the northern allies and the major air force base at Bagram , some seventy kilometers north of Kabul.
By mid-April , the Afghan air force command at Bagram had capitulated to Massoud. On April 17, as his government fell, he tried to escape but was stopped at Kabul Airport by Dostum's forces. He took refuge at the United Nations mission, where he remained unharmed until , while Massoud controlled the area surrounding the mission. Senior communist generals and officials of the Najibullah administration acted as a transitional authority to transfer power to Ahmad Shah Massoud's alliance.
With United Nations support, most Afghan political parties decided to appoint a legitimate national government to succeed communist rule, through an elite settlement.