Print Friendly, PDF & Email
a large official building in Afghanistan

Modern Afghanistan: the Dar-ul-Aman Palace outside Kabul (1920s)

World War I

From 1880 until the end of World War I, the British controlled Afghanistan along with British India. Afghanistan mostly remained neutral in World War I, even when the Ottomans tried to get Afghanistan to help them against the British.

World War I
Ali Khan in Afghanistan
Who were the Ottomans?
British India
All our Central Asia articles

At the end of the war, in 1919, Afghanistan took advantage of British weakness to invade India; though the British kept India, Afghanistan got back its independence.

More government buildings in Afghanistan

Afghan University, built by Russians, in Kabul

World War II

With the end of World War II, however, the British were too weak to hold India anymore. Russia – the U.S.S.R. – became much stronger in Central Asia, and began to dominate Afghanistan (and India) in its turn.

Soviet Union and Russia
The United States

In 1978, the U.S.S.R. finally really did invade Afghanistan, saying it was to support the new democratic communist government there. The United States, fearing Russian expansion just as the British had in the 1800s, gave weapons to Afghan fighters to fight against the Russians. But in 1989, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians also got weak and had to leave Afghanistan.

Another big boring building in Afghanistan - this one under construction

United States constructing a government building in Afghanistan

The Taliban

With all their weapons, the Afghan fighters began to fight over who would rule. By 1994 one group, the Taliban (it means “the Students”), who represented the Pashtun majority of the south and had the help of Pashtuns in Pakistan, began to get control of the country.

United States invasion

In 2001, taking advantage of Russia’s weakness, the United States invaded Afghanistan. The pretext was the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, because some of the planners were hiding out in Afghanistan. The United States put in its own government led by northerners. That war is still going on, and modern Afghanistan is still under the control of the United States.

Earlier History of Afghanistan

Bibliography and further reading about the Taliban and modern Afghanistan:

Central Asia home