When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, they expected to bring the country to its knees in a matter of weeks. But Leonid Brezhnev's army was met by a hardy guerrilla resistance that dogged it for nearly a decade until, on Feb. 15, 1989, the last Soviet soldier withdrew through the Salang Tunnel. But if the story of the Afghan resistance is well known, the literature it produced has for the most part been overlooked. Cartoons, in particular, played an important role in countering Soviet propaganda -- and boosting moral among the mujahideen, many of whom were illiterate.
These political cartoons, never before published in the Western press, tell the story of the early days of the resistance against the Soviets in Afghanistan. They are part of a collection at the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University, which is compiling a record of the country's modern history, with a focus on the last 30 years. The collection encompasses everything from 1950s USAID agricultural studies to communist-era propaganda to Taliban-regime proclamations.
Above, an Afghan woman in traditional dress holds a green flag bearing the word "jihad." Women played an integral role in the conflict against the Soviets, often acting as messengers and aides to men involved with the resistance.