"Afghanistan was conquered by the Maurya Empire, which was led by Chandragupta Maurya from Magadha... [A]s he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle."
"Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 CE and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed."
"From the 16th century to the early 18th century, Afghanistan was divided in to three major areas.... The Kandahar region in the south served as a buffer zone between the powerful Mughals and Safavids, and the native Afghans often switched support from one side to the other."
"King Amanullah Khan moved to end his country's traditional isolation in the years following the Third Anglo-Afghan war. He established diplomatic relations with most major countries and, following a 1927 tour of Europe and Turkey (during which he noted the modernization and secularization advanced by Atatürk), introduced several reforms intended to modernize Afghanistan."
"Amid charges of corruption and malfeasance against the royal family and poor economic conditions created by the severe 1971–72 drought, former Prime Minister Mohammad Sardar Daoud Khan seized power in a non-violent coup on July 17, 1973, while Zahir Shah was receiving treatment for eye problems and therapy for lumbago in Italy."
"In response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Carter administration and Reagan administration in the U.S. began arming the Mujahideen.... The 10-year Soviet occupation resulted in the killings of between 600,000 and two million Afghans, mostly civilians."
"The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud... [W]hile trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, [the Taliban] committed systematic massacres against civilians.... Bin Laden's so-called 055 Brigade was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians.... [E]yewitnesses in many villages describ[ed] Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.... Of roughly 45,000 Pakistani, Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers fighting against the forces of Massoud only 14,000 were Afghans."
"In early 2001 Massoud addressed the European Parliament in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan. He stated that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had introduced 'a very wrong perception of Islam' and that without the support of Pakistan the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year. On this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent."
And so we continue to the 2d day of this 206 day project, reading the "History of..." Wikipedia page for the 206 countries of the world. Yesterday's country, like many of the countries we'll encounter (in alphabetical order), was Abkhazia, much more obscure to us than today's country, a place we've been hearing about continually for the past decade. And yet, how much do we really know about Afghanistan? I've extracted a handful of sentences, all from before this last decade, in an effort to create a faint sense how little we know.