Hafizullah Amin

Hafizullah Amin

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Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

.

Amin tried to broaden his internal base of support and to bring the interest of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in Afghan security. During the 104 days of his rule, except for one failed military rebellion, no major uprising took place. Amin also pursued the policy of Pashtunization
Pashtunization
Pashtunization is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a...

 of the country.

On 27 December 1979, members of the Soviet KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 Alpha Group
Alpha Group
The Alpha Group , is an elite component of Russia's Spetsnaz as well as the dedicated counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Security Service...

killed him and Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 became President.

Early years


Hafizullah Amin was born to a Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

 Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 family in Paghman
Paghman
Paghman is a town in the hills near Kabul, Afghanistan. See also Paghman Gardens. It is center of the Paghman District which has a total population of 120,000 people, and another 20,000 returnees are expected , of which 70% are Pashtuns and 30% Tajiks.. Paghman District is situated in the western...

 on 2 August 1929. He graduated from Kabul University
Kabul University
Kabul University is located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1931 but officially opened for classes in 1932. Kabul University is currently attended by approximately 7,000 students, of which 1,700 are women. As of 2008, Hamidullah Amin is the chancellor of the university...

 and left for the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for graduate studies at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. He then returned to Afghanistan and became a teacher. Hafizullah Amin was also a student of former and highly respected Afghan Parliamentarian Haji Abdul Rasul.

He quickly joined the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA), becoming a prominent member of the Marxist Khalq (People) faction.

President Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

 in 1978 was still in the besieged palace when Amin took command of the coup, after he and his comrades were released from the prison.

The PDPA seized power after Daoud's death, with Nur Mohammad Taraki becoming President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 and secretary general of the PDPA, while Amin and Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 became deputy prime minister
Deputy Prime Minister
A deputy prime minister or vice prime minister is, in some counties, a government minister who can take the position of acting prime minister when the prime minister is temporarily absent. The position is often likened to that of a vice president, but is significantly different, though both...

s. An attempt to institute Marxist-Leninist reforms provoked widespread resistance and a number of violent revolts.

In February 1979 the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Ambassador Adolph Dubs
Adolph Dubs
Adolph "Spike" Dubs was the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 13, 1978 until his death in 1979. He was killed in an exchange of fire after a kidnapping attempt.-Career:...

 was killed. The Khalq faction was gaining political power over the Parcham faction, with Karmal exiled to Europe. Amin had gained considerable control by March 1979 and was named Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 although Taraki retained his other posts. The unrest continued however and the regime was forced to seek more Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 aid. It was in that meeting between Taraki and Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 that the decision to remove Amin took place.

Assassination of Taraki


After Taraki returned to Kabul he requested that Amin meet with him. Amin agreed to the meeting only if his safety was guaranteed by the Soviet Ambassador, Alexander Puzanov. Such assurances were provided, but not in good faith.

Amin however knew Taraki's intentions, and the demand for the ambassador to guarantee his safety was probably a shrewd ploy on the part of Amin to mislead Taraki.

When Amin arrived at the People's Palace, a shootout occurred. Amin escaped unhurt, returned later to the palace with some of his supporters and used the Palace Guard to take Taraki prisoner.

On 14 September 1979 Amin took control of the government. A few days later, Amin's government announced that Taraki died of an "undisclosed illness". A statement made later by the Karmal government stated that on October 8 Amin ordered Taraki killed and that the chief of the palace section of the KAM and two lieutenants tied Taraki up on a bed and suffocated him with a cushion.

President of the Republic (September 1979 – December 1979)


His rule was notable for its brutality. The Soviets claimed that perhaps 500 PDPA members had forfeited their lives. Amin now assumed leadership and carried out his own purges of the PDPA. Attempting to pacify the population, he released a list of some 18,000 people who had been executed and blamed the executions on Taraki. The official Afghan figures are much higher-15,000 to 45,000.

Additional to that, Amin was not a popular person. He was rapidly accumulating as enemies a large group of very angry relatives of victims, and PDPA members must have lived in fear of their lives.

During this period, many Afghans fled to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and began organizing a resistance movement to the "atheistic" and "infidel" communist regime backed by the Soviets, although the groups organizing in the Pakistani city of Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 would later, after the Soviet invasion, be described by the western press as "freedom fighters".

In mid-November 1979 Amin launched a large military operation against the resistance at Sayd Karam in Paktia Province. The offensive was successful, eliminating as many as 1,000 or more resistance fighters, relatives, and supporters, driving most of the remainder into Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, and obliterating sympathetic villages.

Amin also began unfinished attempts to moderate what many Afghans viewed as an Anti-Islam regime. Promising more religious freedom, repairing mosques, presenting copies of the Quran to religious groups, invoking the name of Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 in his speeches, and declaring that the Saur Revolution was "totally based on the principles of Islam." Yet many Afghans held Amin responsible for the regime's harshest measures and the Soviets, worried that their huge investment in Afghanistan might be jeopardized, increased the number of advisers in Afghanistan.

Amin worked to broaden his base of support and purged the PDPA of his perceived enemies. His regime was still under pressure from the insurgency in the country and he tried to gain Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i or American support and refused to take Soviet advice.

Because of or in spite of this, Amin attempted to solidify his hold on the country militarily. This display of independent nationalism was not tolerated by Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, and in December 1979, the Soviets began their invasion of Afghanistan.

Soviet invasion


Islamic guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

s in the mountainous countryside harassed the Afghan army to the point where the government of President Hafizullah Amin turned to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for increasingly large amounts of aid.

The Soviets decided to increase military aid to Afghanistan in order to maintain the Communist government, but they were dissatisfied with Amin as a leader capable of accomplishing this goal. Soviet leaders, based on information from the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, believed that Amin was destabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.
The last arguments to overthrow Amin were obtained by the KGB from its agents in Kabul. It was reported that two of Amin's guards killed the former president Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki was an Afghan politician and statesman during the Cold War. Taraki was born near Kabul and educated at Kabul University, after which he started his political career as a journalist...

 and that Amin was in secret meetings with a CIA agent. There were, however, some skeptics among the Soviet advisers in Afghanistan, chiefly General Vasily Zaplatin, a political adviser at that time, who claimed that four of Taraki's young ministers were responsible for the destabilization.

Amin feared the Soviet troops would be used to depose him. Fearing for his survival and uncertain of whom he could trust, he started putting his relatives into positions of power. Amin put one of his nephews in charge of the secret police, but that nephew was assassinated. Being concerned for his own safety, Amin then moved his headquarters out of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

.

Assassination



An attempted poisoning of Amin was undertaken on December 13, 1979. Department 8 of the KGB succeeded in infiltrating the illegal agent Mitalin Talybov (codenamed SABIR) as a chef of Amin's presidential palace. However, Amin switched his food and drink as if he expected to be poisoned, so his son-in-law became seriously ill, and ironically, was flown to a hospital in Moscow.

Concerned for his safety, Amin moved the presidential offices to the Tajbeg Palace
Tajbeg Palace
Tajbeg Palace or Tapa-e-Tajbeg Palace is a Palace built in the 1920s and located about ten miles outside of the center of Kabul, Afghanistan. The stately mansion sits atop a knoll among foothills where the Afghan royal family once hunted and picnicked...

. The Soviets deployed soldiers near the palace, ostensibly to help protect it. However, their real purpose was to scout out the area and form a plan of attack. On December 27, elements of the KGB Alpha Group
Alpha Group
The Alpha Group , is an elite component of Russia's Spetsnaz as well as the dedicated counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Security Service...

 and Spetsnaz GRU
Spetsnaz GRU
The Spetsnaz GRU, or Russian army special forces, are the original Spetsnaz and are generally considered the best trained and experienced units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as evidenced by both their seniority among the Special Forces and their...

 stormed the Presidential Palace and killed Amin after another failed poisoning attempt. Amin was shot and killed by a Spetsnaz officer while hiding behind a bar. Another Spetsnaz soldier then lobbed a grenade in the vicinity of Amin, where it exploded, killing his young son.
The Soviet Spetsnaz
Spetsnaz
Spetsnaz, Specnaz tr: Voyska specialnogo naznacheniya; ) is an umbrella term for any special forces in Russian, literally "force of special purpose"...

 blew up Kabul's communications hub, paralyzing the Afghan military command at 19:00. By 19:15, they had seized the Ministry of Interior. The Soviet military command at Termez
Termez
Termez is a city in southern Uzbekistan near the border with Afghanistan.Some link the name of the city to thermos, "hot" in Greek, tracing its name back to Alexander the Great. Others suggest that it came from Sanskrit taramato, meaning "on the river bank". It is the hottest point of Uzbekistan...

 did not wait until Amin's capture to announce on Radio Kabul (in a broadcast prerecorded by Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

) that Afghanistan had been liberated from Amin's rule.

According to the Soviet Politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

, they were only complying with the 1978 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborliness that former President Taraki signed. The execution of Hafizullah Amin was, according to the Soviets, the action of the Afghan Revolutionary Central Committee. That committee then elected Babrak Karmal, who was in exile in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, as head of government.

Accusations of being a CIA agent


The Soviet government and press repeatedly referred to Amin as a "CIA agent", a charge which was greeted with great skepticism in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. One argument against that belief, was that he always and everywhere showed official friendliness to the Soviet Union. After the assassination of Amin and two of his sons, his wife claimed that she and her remaining sons only wanted to go to the Soviet Union, because her husband was loyal to them until the end. She did eventually go to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to live.

Further reading

  • Red Flag Over Afghanistan: The Communist Coup, the Soviet Invasion, and the Consequences - Thomas T. Hammond - ISBN 0-86531-444-6
  • The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine in Soviet Foreign Policy" - Matthew J. Ouimet - ISBN 0-80785-411-5

External links