Daud's Republic: 1973-78

Daud's Republic: 1973-78

The July 1973 coup d'etat ended 226 years of royal rule controlled by theDurrani tribal confederacy. The coup was uncontested, apparently popular, andalmost benignly bloodless. Popular acceptance was partially tied to thecontinuity which Daud's leadership appeared to offer even though he had becomepolitically associated with Marxists. He was seen by many as a forceful leaderand a known factor after a decade of dashed hopes for a viable constitutionalmonarchy.

Daud was compelled to concentrate much of his energy on getting rid of hisMarxist allies who had made the coup possible by penetrating the militaryofficer corps. These erstwhile allies were members of the Parcham faction of thePeoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). They had expected to share powerand then get rid of Daud. They also had scores to settle with the Islamicmilitants they had fought against at the national university and the politicianswho had served in Zahir Shah's constitutional government. Hundreds of members ofthe Ikwani Musalamin (Muslim Brotherhood, also known in Afghanistan as theMuslim Youth), were arrested--many were later executed. Former Prime MinisterMuhammad Hashim Maiwandwal was murdered by Parchami henchmen while in policecustody for alleged involvement in a coup attempt.

By 1975 Daud had moved carefully to purge the Marxists from his cabinet. In1977 he attempted to consolidate his position by promulgating a new constitutionwhich concentrated power in his presidency and channeled popular support througha single party system. Under some Soviet and Indian communist pressure, theAfghan Marxists interrupted their factional feuding long enough to unite in anattempt to overthrow Daud's government. Incensed by Daud's foreign policy shiftaway from them, the Soviets made clear to the Afghan Marxists their willingnessto see Daud removed. He had moved close to Iran, Pakistan and Egypt (after Sadathad reconciled with Israel).

Having isolated himself from the liberals who had served the king and theIslamic militants he had persecuted, Daud had to rely heavily on his securityand military forces to stay in power. The Marxists effectively penetrated them.As a result his efforts to prevent a coup were bungled. While most of the armedforces stood aside, Marxist collaborators in the army and the air force launchedan assault on Daud's palace that overwhelmed his Republican Guards.

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