When I arrived in Herat, the most easterly city in Afghanistan, in June 1970, it was, or seemed to be, an idyllic kingdom, ruled by a king called Zahir Shah. Coming from the oppressive desert of Iran, with an equally oppressive regime, it was like entering heaven from hell. Suddenly there was music in the air, colorful horses and carriages ringing with bells, and people selling their wares to young people on the hippy trail… and many people enjoying those wares. Cool, friendly, laid-back, with little trace of extremist religion. Behind the scenes the religious fundamentalists chafed under the reforms the king had instituted under the years, and, as always, in the mountainous areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, most men bore weapons, which could be bought in the local markets. Afghanistan has a reputation for being able to look after itself, as the British discovered in 1842. At this time they sent out an expeditionary force of 16,000 men from India to pacify Kabul. These men were slaughtered in less than a week, and one man lived to tell the tale.The Soviet Union were also ultimately defeated in the 1980’s by Afghanistan resistance, which had considerable support from the USA in the form of advanced anti-aircraft missiles, conventional arms and dollars. Osama bin Laden was a prominent recipient of this support. A complete withdrawal of Soviet forces took place under Gorbatchev on February 15th 1989, with Mujahideen attacks wreaking havoc on Soviet troops until the last moment. The transition of Afghanistan from a kingdom to a divided state started with the overthrow of the king on July 17th 1973 by his brother in law, Daoud Khan, who established a republic.

Afghanistan coup July 17th 1993. 5.56 Kabul

(I have chosen dawn at which time the coup was known to have succeeded)

This chart appropriately shows a militant Mars in Aries on the MC, which in its square to the Sun and opposition to Uranus in Libra shows the surprise attack on the nation’s institutions. However, Daoud had little success in pacifying the country and he in turn was overthrown, and killed along with his family, on April 27th 1978. At this time Mars was square the Sun once again, within a degree of orb, and square a somewhat more deadly Uranus in Scorpio.

With the coup of 1978 Afghanistan was renamed as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and it had a powerful socialist agenda under the new president Taraki. Men were required to cut their beards and women forbidden to wear a burka. Forced marriages were banned and women given the right to vote. The DRA government invited the Soviet Union to help develop the country, which they eagerly did, building a better infrastructure, hospitals, schools and drilling new wells.

Unfortunately, although these changes were welcomed by people in the cities, the fundamentalist rulers of the villages were not pleased to see their privileges and power taken away, and unrest grew. The USA, most disgruntled at seeing the growing communist influence in Afghanistan, gave support to this unrest, covertly funding and training Mujahideen forces through the Pakistani secret service (ISI). On September 14th 1978 President Taraki was overthrown and died – obviously the kind of fate reserved for people who overthrow and kill other people – when transiting Mars conjoined the Sun position of the original coup against the king. There was a growing uprising and finally Soviet troops invaded – on Christmas Day 1979 – which prompted an international crisis.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, the socialist government struggled on but was finally overthrown by fundamentalists who established the Islamic State of Afghanistan on April 18th 1992 under a rather exact Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn.

Islamic State of Afghanistan 18th April 1992. 12.00 Kabul. Solar sign.

This ultimately led to the almost complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taleban over the course of the next decade, who with their fundamentalist agenda re-established the control of a male-dominated theocracy, completely reversing the democratization of society and the emancipation of women. This horoscope is worth studying, because it reflects the dire circumstances of women that were a consequence. The moon is in Scorpio, where it is traditionally in fall, squaring Saturn and moving to conjoin Pluto, which shows a depressed and oppressed people. Venus is in Aries (in detriment) in square to Uranus and Neptune, reflecting oppression and suppression from a revolutionary religious government.

Everything changed – also for Afghanistan – on September 11th, for during the 90’s Al Qaida had built up bases under Osama bin Laden with the avowed intention of establishing a fundamentalist Islamic orthodoxy and fighting the ideology of communism and the decadence of capitalism. With the Taleban government’s refusal to prosecute Al Qaida after the attack on New York, US retaliation was inevitable and justified, and it resulted in an invasion and the ultimate restoration of King Zahir Shah in April 2002, a Saturn cycle since the 1973 coup. Later at democratic elections on October 9th 2004, President Hamid Karzai was elected.

Afghanistan – Democratic government. 9th October 2004, Kabul. Solar Chart.

This is actually quite an auspicious horoscope with a massive stellium in Libra, much like the horoscope for the United Nations, reflecting an ardent desire for peace and justice. The weakness in the chart may lie in the position of the Sun and Mars in Libra, where they are traditionally weak, suggesting that only skilled diplomacy can secure the continued stability of the Karzai government. American sources constantly refer to Karzai as weak, but looking at the options, he may be the one who at least can deliver peace. With Neptune in Aquarius trining the Libra stellium, there is a suggestion that the Kabul government may be living in a bubble, and the Moon in Leo may show a priveleged few, whilst Venus in Virgo (in fall) opposing Uranus may tell a different and harder story for those who struggle in the countryside, where the main export turns out to be opium.

Considering the history of Afghanistan, it is amazing that western governments continue to get involved. When they do they inevitably incur the wrath of the people, or at least those who do not live in Kabul, and end up paying a price that is very high. Still, the USA feel that they have unfinished business in the country after 9/11 and President Obama has already ordered 17,000 additional troops, saying the war against the Taleban is still winnable, though suggesting than compromises with some Taleban leaders should be made.

Many of the historical landmarks mentioned in this article show planets in the first degrees of cardinal signs, particularly early Capricorn. For example the nodal axis was at 7 Cancer/Capricorn at the 1973 coup, square Pluto at 2 Libra. Daoud was killed with the moon at 2 Capricorn opposition Jupiter 2 Cancer square the nodes at 5 Libra/Aries. Taraki was killed with the moon at 3 Cancer. The Soviet invasion took place with the Sun at 2 Capricorn. The Islamic State was declared with the Nodes at 2 Capricorn/Cancer square Mercury in Aries. And Karzai was elected with Jupiter at 3 Libra.

This suggests that the current Pluto transit in Capricorn will bring renewed transformation to Afghanistan, particularly when activated by the coming square of Saturn in Libra which repeats three times at 3 degrees Libra/Capricorn. This makes the continued existence of the Karzai government rather doubtful, and a growing build up of military pressure via NATO more certain. NATO itself has Uranus at 4 Cancer squares Venus 4 Libra, so clearly the Saturn/Pluto square will prove to be a huge drain on the resources of the countries involved, not least the USA with its Venus at 3 degrees Cancer. The Uranus/Venus square does indicate rather rash involvement trying to establish justice in distant lands, and it is in this area that the organization will be tested over the coming two years.

HOROSCOPE: NATO 24th August 1949, 11.42 Washington DC (AS 2.57 SC)

However, NATO is a very powerful organization with a Scorpio rising and Mars in Cancer in the 9th House opposite Jupiter, so it has a long reach. Established at a new moon conjoining Saturn, it has a very powerful infrastructure and planning apparatus. Even though European governments groan and complain, it will probably rise to the challenge ahead.

Here in 2009 the current Uranus/Saturn opposition is still powerfully activating the US Neptune at 22 Virgo square Mars and 21 Gemini, which indicates radical movements of soldiers and considerable military disruption. As Obama himself has his Mars at 22 Virgo – right on US Neptune – it is quite likely that he will get bogged down in impossible military adventures, even if his Mars is trine Saturn, which at least indicates that he is a dogged and perfectionist planner. With his progressed Mars and Mercury conjoined, and squaring progressed Saturn and Jupiter for several years into the future (and semi squaring Pluto), he will probably be involved in military conflict during the whole of his first term.

The hope is that the outcome of all this will be peace in Afghanistan, but history has a different lesson to teach. The choices are not easy, because allowing a fundamentalist regime that offers sanctuary to terrorists is not an option the US can consider, having burned their fingers once. But whilst the vast majority of resources are used on hard military options, and only a small percentage on improving the lives of Afghanis, it is unlikely that the outcome will be any different than it has ever been. Perhaps the solution lies in Pakistan and Iran, who have traditionally exerted the strongest influence on this country – but that must be the subject of another article.

Adrian Ross Duncan 18th February 2009.