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Ahmed Rashid: Taliban

A handful of Taliban had fought the Soviet Red Army in the 1980s, more had fought the regime of President Najibullah نجيب الله who had hung onto power for four years after Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, but the vast majority had never fought the communists and were young Koranic students, drawn from hundreds of madrassas (Islamic theology schools) that had been set up in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. (Rashid, p 1)
Iran, Turkey, India, Russia and four of the five Central Asian Republics -- Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- have backed the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance with arms and money to try and halt the Taliban's advance. In contrast Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have backed the Taliban. ... At the heart of this regional stand-off is the battle for the vast (Rashid, p )