Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bust and the Arab Conquests

I am currently reading Hugh Kennedy's "The Great Arab Conquests." In reading his chapter on the conquest of Iran today, I found an interesting link to current events.
"The most determined resistance the Arabs faced in the lands of the Sassanian Empire came from the area of eastern Sistan, the Helmand and Kandahar provinces of modern Afghanistan. ... The desert areas of southern Afghanistan are a difficult environment for any invading army. The scorching head is very debilitating and the rugged hills provide endless points of shelter and refuge for defenders who know the area well. " The Arab Muslim army did not fare well. It assembled at a base camp in Bust, which is near modern Lashkar Gah (which I believe means "seat of the army", potentially from this history?), and pursued their enemies northeast, into the mountains of what is now Oruzgan Province. The Arabs found the terrain, heat, and lack of supplies to be too much, to say nothing of their enemies' use of the terrain against them.

U.S. Marines in Operation KHANJAR (a curved dagger) are operating in the same areas today against Muslim Taliban fighters that are the descendants of those Sistanis that so fiercely resisted the Arab Muslim advance almost 1300 years ago. They are much better equipped to fight in this difficult area, but its nature has changed little. Marine spokesmen reported that the only casualties taken early on in the assault were due to the heat.

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