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Civil war in Afghanistan

Since the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the country has been torn apart by civil war. Ethnic groups have been fighting a war characterized by shifting alliances and no sign that anyone can ever win. In addition to ethnic rivalries, there are religious disputes between Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. None of the factions seems interested in seceding from the state, although many, such as the Uzbeks and the Tajiks, live mainly in areas that border the 'home' nations of their ethnic groups. Western interest in Afghanistan dropped off once the Soviets fled and the wars are seldom reported in the Western daily press. Five articles on the civil war in Afghanistan are reviewed here. They range from August 1993 to July 1995. All are concerned with the same subject, but address it from different points of view.

The writers' perspectives range from the ultra-conservative American viewpoint expressed in Radek Sikorski's article in the National Review to the more detached scholarly review by Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady in Asian Survey. The articles include eyewitness accounts of the war (Sikorski, Davis), an analysis of the situation in a historical context ("Tank"), a newsmagazine summary (MacFarquhar), and a historical review of Afghan ethnic conflict (Ahady). Three were published in United States periodicals, one in a British magazine, and one in a Hong Kong news weekly (reprinted in World Press Review). The political orientation of the two news weeklies, The Economist and the U. S. News and World Report, is conservative. The National Review is a journal of opinion (mostly very conservative). Asian Survey is published by the University of California. No information was available on Asiaweek, which was characterized by World Press Review only as "an independent newsmagazine" (Davis, 1994, p. 16). The writers agree on the facts, but there are differences in their attitudes toward the war. These attitudes seem to be influen...

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