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Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
CRG -- The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan (external - login to view)
Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban (external - login to view)
CIA activities in Afghanistan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (external - login to view)
Further information: Operation Cyclone (external - login to view)
[edit (external - login to view)] Intelligence analysis
The CIA National Foreign Assessment Center completed work on a report entitled "Afghanistan: Ethnic Divergence and Dissidence" in May 1979, although it was not formally published until March 1980. It is not known if the information was readily available to policymakers at the time of the December 1979 invasion. (external - login to view)
Tribal insurgency (external - login to view)
, according to this report, began in 1978, with the installation of a pro-Soviet government. Even though the government tilted toward the Soviet Union, the analysis said that many tribal groups, especially Uzbek (external - login to view)
, saw the government as ethnically Pashtun (external - login to view)
, with hostility on ethnic and political grounds.
[edit (external - login to view)] Covert action
President Carter (external - login to view)
reacted with "open-mouthed shock" to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (external - login to view)
, and began promptly arming the Afghan insurgents. (external - login to view)
Vice-President Walter Mondale famously declared: "I cannot understand -- it just baffles me -- why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. Maybe we have made some mistakes with them. Why did they have to build up all these arms? Why did they have to go into Afghanistan? Why can't they relax just a little bit about Eastern Europe? Why do they try every door to see if it is locked?" (external - login to view)
The Soviets, several times shortly before the invasion, had staged conversations with the Afghan leadership suggesting that they had no desire to intervene, even as the Politburo was—with much hesitation—considering such an intervention. Though some have argued that US financial assistance to Afghan dissidents, including Islamists and other militants, prior to the invasion; along with a Soviet desire to protect the leftist Afghan government, helped convince the Soviets to intervene, the Sovietts ironically brutally murdered the Afghan President and his son, replacing him with a puppet regime, immediately after the invasion for fear that the US had secretly been collaborating with him. (external - login to view)
One of the CIA's longest and most expensive covert operations was the supplying of billions of dollars in arms to the Afghan mujahideen militants. (external - login to view)
The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani (external - login to view)
secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (external - login to view)
(ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone (external - login to view)
. Somewhere between $3–$20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons.
According to the "Progressive South Asia Exchange Net," claiming to cite an article in Le Nouvel Observateur (external - login to view)
, U.S. policy, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy of aiming "to induce a Soviet military intervention." (external - login to view)
The article includes a brief interview with Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski (external - login to view)
, in which he is quoted as saying that the US provided aid to the mujahideen prior to the Soviet invasion in order to delibrately provoke one. Brzezinski himself has denied the accuracy of the interview. (external - login to view)
According to Brzezinski, an NSC working group (external - login to view)
on Afghanistan wrote several reports on the deteriorating situation in 1979, but President Carter ignored them until the Soviet intervention destroyed his illusions. Brzezinski has stated that the US provided communications equipment and limited financial aid to the mujahideen prior to the "formal" invasion, but only in response to the Soviet deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the 1978 coup, and with the intention of preventing further Soviet encroachment in the region. (external - login to view)
Two declassified documents signed by Carter shortly before the invasion do authorize the provision "unilaterally or through third countries as appropriate support to the Afghan insurgents either in the form of cash or non-military supplies" and the "worldwide" distribution of "non-attributable propaganda" to "expose" the leftist Afghan government as "despotic and subservient to the Soviet Union" and to "publicize the efforts of the Afghan insurgents to regain their country's sovereignty," but the records also show that the provision of arms to the rebels did not begin until 1980. (external - login to view) (external - login to view)