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Operation Kaskad / ‌By: Bruce G. Richardson
Tuesday, 12.18.2012, 10:11pm (GMT+1)

Operation Kaskad


By: Bruce G. Richardson

Covert Soviet Contingency Plans and Preparations for the dismemberment of Afghanistan along ethnic and linguistic lines re-surface as a post-Cold War Stratagem with profound implications for modern-day Afghanistan

December 1981,

Afghan President Babrak Karmal was told in Moscow by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to lay the groundwork for a reinforcement of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, And for the eventual annexation of the country to the USSR. According to KhAD Lt. General Ghulam Siddiq Miraki, who had first-hand knowledge of the Soviet plan, and who later defected, Brezhnev’s original plan could not easily be implemented due to the enmity that persisted between the two Communist factions in Afghanistan, the Khalq and Parcham. (Bodansky, p. 11, Tanai)

In consultation with his intelligence services, Brezhnev came up with a top-secret strategy to dismember Afghanistan…code-named Operation Kaskad. (Bodansky, p.11)

Operation Kaskad, would implement covert actions as necessary for the sequestration of the nine provinces north of the Hindu Kush which are predominantly populated by non-Pashtuns, and annex them to the co-ethnic republics of the USSR. The resultant southern enclave would become a nominally independent and Pashtun–dominated state which could then serve as a catalyst for the ‘Greater Pashtunistan’ and Baluchistan separatist movements, irredentist movements which in a volatile region could prove invaluable to the Soviets to exploit unrest and foment instability. (Bodansky, p. 11)

Miraki disclosed that “Brezhnev told Karmal that Afghanistan would be dismembered with nine- northern, provinces, including Kabul, coming under complete Soviet control. The rest of the country would be left to its fate.” (Bodansky, p. 11, Tanai)

The Soviets were especially interested in the Kunduz, Samangan, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Takhar, Balkh, Jowjan, Badghis and Faryab provinces. This move would have enabled the USSR to pacify the region without relying on costly, military operations, and to secure critical lines of communication and re-supply. The population of the northern areas is predominantly Tajik and Uzbek, ethnically similar to the Soviet republics to the north and therefore more easily co-opted by the KGB to function as a proxy-militia and intelligence organ for the Soviet 40th Army, a Soviet tactic corroborated during a lengthy interview conducted with former Defense Minister Shah Nawaz Tanai, while (1997) incarcerated at Sarpooza Prison. (Tanai, Bodansky, p.12)

The KGB supported the plan, which was relatively similar to its original perception as to how the Afghan situation should be addressed. “Senior KGB officials,” Miraki explained, “felt that Afghanistan could have been controlled with limited force.”   The KGB view was to repeatedly urge KhAD to pay attention to, and exploit the ethnic, religious and nationalist factors. (Bodansky, Tanai, p. 12)

Under the aegis of Operation Kaskad, KGB Border Directorate troops took over the security of the northern provinces of Afghanistan as if they were an extension of the USSR’s Central Asian Republics. Under Kaskad, the north would be viewed as distinct from the South and Southwest, and policy would be implemented accordingly. Moscow’s objective was to create a situation where the local population would have vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Thus, economic development and exploitation have been almost exclusively concentrated in the north. The Soviets have promoted the development of the Amu Darya separating the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Gas and electricity projects have been undertaken en masse. Two dams have been built for irrigation purposes to the Kunduz and Herat areas, and others were in the long-range planning stage. (Krakowski, p. 177, Tanai)

In the north, the Soviets and their allies avoided destruction of cities, villages, and the countryside, however, Moscow actively sought to destroy not only the opposition to its rule but the very existence of the Pashtun population and its means of support and subsistence. (Krakowski, p. 178, Tanai)

Outside the northern zone, irrigation networks, crops and villages have been destroyed, and the land depopulated, turning the south into a veritable wasteland. (Krakowski, p. 178, Tanai)

Once the Soviets took direct control, operational patterns (particularly aerial bombardments) indicated a systematic effort to depopulate selected areas on an ethnic basis; i.e., the overwhelmingly Pashtun –populated areas, stretching from the southwest to the eastern provinces, by killing hundreds of thousands and driving the rest into exile. According to data enumerating registered refugees, (provided by Pakistan and Iran) six million rural Afghans, most of them Pashtuns, were driven into exile. A variety of techniques were used to drive them out. Bombing reduced entire villages to rubble, while helicopter-gunships slaughtered the fleeing inhabitants. Villages were singled out for gruesome massacres and other atrocities impelling entire districts to flee. Crops were set afire at harvest time, orchards and vineyards were destroyed, flocks and herds of livestock were wiped out. Since it was not intended that those who had fled should return, the irrigation systems on which Afghan agriculture depends were destroyed, and the land turned to desert. (Klass and Charny, pp. 130-133, Richardson, pp. 59-62, Tanai)

Emboldened by their success, though unintentionally providing documentary-evidence of the existence of Operation Kaskad, the Soviets drafted a thought-provoking and revealing document…a map of Afghanistan in which the north of the country (Afghanistan) is designated as the “Sixteenth Soviet Republic.” This map, published in 1981 in Moscow, was recently (1997) discovered during a trip to Kabul by Sayed Khalil Hashemeyan and subsequently published in the Afghanistan Mirror. Sayed Khalil Hashemeyan is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Afghanistan Mirror. (Richardson, pp. 59-62)


October 2001, Post-Cold War re-birth of Operation Kaskad:

It is therefore extremely important to reflect on historical precedent to comprehend and act judiciously at the present. Today, the US and its NATO-affiliates, drawing on past-Soviet stratagems, choreographed and masquerading as the ‘War on Terror’, have reconfigured a rebirth by several external, politico-military influences, i.e., (Russia, India, US, UK and Pakistan) with a demonstrated anti-Pashtun bias, currently plotting the partition of and thereby gaining control of Afghanistan. A recent ‘carrot and stick’ approach for ending hostilities by the Karzai Government, a ploy which cedes limited geographic locations/areas of southern territory to the Taliban with attendant administrative control and governance, is but one such recent example, but is, in reality, outdated, premeditated (British. Soviet, US) tactics for eventual partition of the country, ostensibly in exchange for a pseudo-ceasefire arranged and facilitated by a US-installed, puppet government.  As with its Soviet counterpart of yesteryear, Operation Kaskad, western-inspired partition schemes of today represent the rebirth of colonial-era thinking and ruses to partition the country and thereby dissolve or eradicate the cohesiveness/strength of the majority Pashtun community and hence gain control of the country.

It is therefore incumbent and critically urgent upon those of us who monitor events on a daily basis in Afghanistan to not be duped in assessing this latest foreign-based approach as a good-faith gesture for peace and or reconciliation by the Western powers, and to remain in constant and vigilant recognition of the ageless adage that “history must not be ignored for fear of it repeating itself”.

Bruce G. Richardson /12/12/12


See: The Fall of Kabul has not slowed the Pace of Regional Strategic Change, Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, Washington, 1992, by Yossef Bodansky.

See: Genocide in Afghanistan, 1987-1992, The Widening Circle of Genocide, by Roseanne Klass and Israel W. Charny, Volume II.

See: Afghanistan: the Great Game Revisited, by Roseanne Klass, 1990.

See: Afghanistan: Soviet and Russian Global Interests, by Elie Krakowski, 1994.

See: Afghanistan: a Search for Truth, by Bruce G. Richardson, 2009.

Interview: With former Defense Minister Shah Nawaz Tanai, 12 November, 1997: Sarpooza Prison, 2.5 hours duration, in attendance: Shah Nawaz Tanai, Afghan journalist Sayed Noorulhaq Husseini and Bruce G. Richardson.






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