Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Andrew Morris




reform, Afghanistan, insurgency, regime change, Cold War


The country of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan in the southeast, Iran in the west, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the north, and China in the northeast, is home to over 20 million ethnically and religiously diverse people. Afghanistan is an Islamic country divided into several tribal based groups, which follow a variety of political and religious customs and traditions. Although considered an “Islamic Republic” today, or a government representative of all people, in actuality, the nation’s central government consists of the most powerful tribal groups and fighting factions in the country. Located in the center of Asia and the Middle East, the country has long been a key geostrategic location for the international community. In addition, its natural resources including oil, coal, and various textiles for domestic use have made it the focus of European influence since the 19th century. Beginning with the British Empire in the late 1800’s, the tribes of Afghanistan have combated European expansion and have undertaken extreme, and often times violent, political transformations in order to protect their sovereignty and people. Amid these changes, the dynastic rule of Amanullah Khan, Mohammad Nadir Shah, and then Mohammad Zahir Shah over Afghanistan that began in 1919 after British withdrawal from the region, began to weaken and dissipate. Liberal reform attempting to modernize Afghanistan challenged the traditional Islamic political framework in Afghanistan and generated the rise of Soviet Marxism and Communism in the country. In the early 1970’s, led by Nur Mohammed Taraki, Haffizullah Amin, and Babrak Kamal, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan introduced controversial social and political reforms which had several ideological ties to Soviet Marxism.