I have expanded and updated it to keep in step with recent events since the tragedies of September The point of the lesson is to provide students with some background on the civil war in Afghanistan as well as a foundation for further study of the dynamics of civil wars occurring throughout the world today. By focusing on the specific case of Afghanistan, students can become familiar with the complexities of civil war in general, learning how civil strife can be affected by many factors.
Students can use research skills to analyze factors that contribute to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world. The lesson, for secondary students, takes at least two class periods, but teachers should adjust the length of the lesson to the ability of their students. If the lesson is extended with discussions of current events or outside research, it could easily take a week. Class materials are the handouts in this article. Students can do further research with the use of the Internet, books and magazines at a library, and for current events daily newspapers.
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will have met these learning outcomes:. Explain to students that they will be looking at the civil war in Afghanistan as an introduction to the study of civil war in general.
Brainstorm reasons why citizens might enter into combat with one another. Assemble groups of eight students. Distribute copies of Handouts A-D to everybody. Students can begin reading the handouts, finishing them for homework. The next day, have students discuss among themselves what they have read, each student taking responsibility for his or her chosen handout.
Research shows that people retain information better if they have explained it to another person. Write guidelines for these discussions on the board:. After a twenty-minute discussion, ask the class for questions or comments. Complex questions that arise might serve as topics for further research. Then distribute Handout E. Within each group of eight students, students should now pair up and select one of these four ethnic groups to report on, using all of the handouts as their source of information: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.
Pairs from different student groups may work together if they are researching the same ethnic group, to answer these questions:. If so, to which denomination of Islam do they belong?
Students should be prepared to discuss these questions with their original groups the next day. Tell the class that Handout E is crucial for answering these questions, but that all of the handouts contain relevant information. Each student should give a brief report to his or her group on what he or she has learned about the ethnic group.
As an extension activity, students could do further research, in a library or on the Internet, to answer these questions:. That is, in what ways are members of this group different from other populations residing in Afghanistan? What is the conflict based on? Alert students to the fact that many newspapers, magazines, and humanitarian organizations have recently produced brief reports and background information about the civil war in Afghanistan see Selected Resources. In reporting back to the class, students should discuss how an ethnic group may have contributed to the civil war and how each has been affected by it.
They might also discuss current events in Afghanistan as they relate to their assigned ethnic group. Students should be encouraged to identify trends, similarities, or dissimilarities, and not simply report data. The purpose of this discussion is to help students become familiar with the diversity and complexity of issues and positions that have contributed to the creation, escalation, and continuation of the civil war and recent international hostilities. In more than thirty nations today, there is civil strife that is at or near the point of bloodshed.
What similarities or differences stand out when you compare civil wars that occurred in different times and places? This book and other resources are described online at www. Amnesty International www.
Gayle Mertz , a co-author of Conflict in Context , has developed curriculum, trained teachers, and written extensively on law-related education, conflict resolution, and social justice. She has directed projects for the Colorado Supreme Court and the U. Departments of Education and Justice. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, and can be reached at gaylemertz hotmail.
Curry, Andrew. Hiltermann, Joost. Rashid, Ahmed.enter site
Opportunities for peace in Afghanistan and the challenges ahead | World Economic Forum
It is traversed east to west by the Hindu Kush Mountains, which rise to heights of 24, feet. Valleys between the mountains, and plains in the north and southwest, hold the scarce topsoil that can be farmed only 12 percent of the land is arable. The fabled Silk Road, linking India and the Far East with Europe, passed through valleys and mountain gaps, making Afghanistan a hotspot for the transport of goods both legitimate trade and smuggling and international intrigue.
The climate is dry, winters are cold, and summers are hot. The nation is landlocked, surrounded by six countries: Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. People and Culture The population is about 26 million. Over 3 million Afghan refugees now live in bordering nations such as Iran and Pakistan. There are three main ethnic groups Pashtuns are 38 percent of the population, Tajiks 25 percent, and Hazaras 19 percent.
Uzbeks make up 6 percent, while other minorities Aimaks, Turkmen, Baluchis, and others make up 12 percent. These groups arise from independent, nomadic tribes. More than twenty separate languages are spoken; the major ones are Afghan Persian or Dari spoken by 50 percent of the population , Pashtu 35 percent , and Turkic dialects, such as Uzbek and Turkmen 11 percent.
Comparing the U.S. and Soviet Experiences in Afghanistan
Islam is the religion observed by 99 percent of the population Sunni Muslims comprise 84 percent, Shiite Muslims 15 percent. Traditionally, Islamic culture was a unifying force, providing a common bond among the many different ethnic groups. The Koran, the holy book of Islam, has long been the basis of not just religious practices, but also cultural and political norms.
Several statistics tell the story of poverty in Afghanistan today. Nearly half the population is under 15 years old. The average life expectancy is only about 45 years. Adult illiteracy is 69 percent for men and 84 percent for women. Less than one-quarter of all young women attend primary or secondary school.
Infant mortality is deaths for every 1, live births in the United States, the ratio is 7: 1, There is one telephone, on average, for every 1, inhabitants. Empire-builders have desired control over the mountain passes such as the famous Khyber Pass that allowed travel from India and thus from all of the Far East to the Middle East and thus to all of Europe. Historically, the Afghan tribes have not taken kindly to invaders or would-be rulers. For example, the army of Alexander the Great was almost destroyed in the mountains in B.
Genghis Khan conquered the region in A. The British stormed Kabul and set up a puppet ruler in , but two years later their 16, soldiers were slaughtered in retreat, except for one wounded survivor. In , a Pashtun tribal leader, Ahmad Shah Abdali, was chosen by tribal chiefs to be ruler.
He is widely considered to be the father of the Afghan nation. Pashtun clans provided leadership for this loose confederation of tribes for the next two hundred years. A leftist coup in established Afghanistan as a republic. The deposed King Zahir Shah fled to Rome, where he lives in exile today. The coup initiated a cascade of political splintering. Just five years later, in , Marxists in the Afghan army staged another coup, but the group split into factions that fought among one another, while also battling anticommunist, Islamic opponents. The civil war had begun. In , the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to end the chaos and establish a stable communist regime.
Initially, Afghans resisting the invasion were armed with outdated weapons. This support was part of the U. Cold War strategy against the communist Soviet Union at the time, but it made leaders out of warriors who believed their battle against communism was part of a great Muslim cause. The Mujahideen included boys as young as ten. By , the Soviets realized that they were in a no-win situation and signed an accord with the United States and Pakistan to end the war. The communist regime, led by President Najibullah, lasted until , when Mujahideen took over the city, forcing the president to take shelter in a U.
Amazingly, Afghan foot soldiers had defeated a world superpower, but their country lay in ruins, with 1. Significant foreign aid was never forthcoming, from the United States or elsewhere.
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