106. Article in the President’s Daily Brief1

AFGHANISTAN-USSR: Situation report

The Soviets have replaced President Amin with a rival Marxist leader, Babrak Karmal, and appear to be in control of Kabul today.2

Some Soviet troops were engaged in fighting yesterday, but major Afghan units stationed outside of Kabul appeared to have stayed out of fighting in the city.

The new government has announced that Amin has been tried and executed, and it has invited additional Soviet assistance.3

The new government is somewhat broader based than Amin’s, but all cabinet members and most ruling council members announced so far were ministers in the government formed after the Marxists seized power in April 1978. In addition to serving as Prime Minister, Babrak will head the ruling party and the Revolutionary Council; President Sultan Ali Kishtmand—who like Babrak is a member of the Parchamist faction of the party—will probably be largely a figurehead.

Included in both the cabinet and the Council are two leftist military officers, Abdul Qader—who was jailed by former President Taraki and Amin in August 1978—and Mohammed Aslam Watanjar—who has been in hiding since Amin overthrew Taraki in September. Both are more nationalist and less doctrinaire than Babrak.

There is little prospect that the government as now constituted can win significant popular support. Even if the new rulers are able to convince the people that Amin and not the party was responsible for the most unpopular Marxist policies, they will still be regarded as [Page 298] Communists and atheists. Babrak’s call for Soviet military assistance may give the appearance of legality to Soviet military moves, but for most Afghans it will only confirm that he is a Soviet puppet.

[less than 1 line not declassified] suggests that the Soviets may be preparing to move forces by air into Shindand and Qandahar. The Soviet airlift to Kabul is continuing. As many as 3,800 Soviet airborne troops equipped with armored personnel carriers and assault guns may have arrived in Kabul since Monday.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 81B00401R: Subject Files of the Presidential Briefing Coordinator for DCI (1977–81), Box 8, Afghanistan Crisis—December 1979, PDBs. Top Secret; For the President Only. The full version of this President’s Daily Brief was not filed with this collection. The article printed here was found in this form.
  2. An annex to the December 28 President’s Daily Brief, attached but not printed, noted: “there is no reason to doubt that the coup was engineered by Moscow” following a Soviet military buildup that Amin believed “was aimed at bolstering his regime.” The annex further noted that Soviet dissatisfaction with Amin became apparent following the coup against Taraki, and that Amin “launched his coup because of Soviet maneuvers to replace him.” According to the annex, the Soviet Union had long favored Parcham rule in Afghanistan: [text not declassified].
  3. The announcement was reported in telegram 8632 from Kabul, December 28. According to the report, the announcement was made over Soviet-controlled Radio Afghanistan at 0300, December 28. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800003–0425)