Wednesday, 8 April 2020


Umayyad Caliphate or Umayyad Dynasty was the first Muslim dynasty that was formed after Rashidun Caliphate. The Umayyad Caliphate lasted for around 90 years from 661 to 750 AD. This Caliphate was established after the end of the First Fitnah (First Muslim Civil War) and it barely recovered from Second Fitnah (Second Muslim Civil War) at the beginning of the Caliphate.

The Umayyad Caliphate is especially known for the expansion of conquered territories in Asia, Europe, and Africa and the unity of the empire. Soon after the fall of the Umayyad Dynasty, the unity of the Caliphate could not be retained by the Abbasid Dynasty that replaced the Umayyad Caliphate.

Background and Establishment

Umayyad or Banu Umayya is a clan of Quresh Tribe. A prominent figure of Banu Ummaya was the third Rashidun Caliph Usman bin Affan (RA) who was a prominent sahabi (companion) and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Many of the prominent members of the Umayyad clan embraced Islam after the conquest of Makkah by Muhammad (PBUH).

In 639, second Caliph Umar bin Khattab (RA) appointed Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan (RA) as the governor of Syria and he retained his position during the caliphate of his cousin Usman. Due to this reason, Syria became a stronghold of Muawiya and the later Umayyads.

After the martyrdom of Usman, the first civil war started between Muslims during which Muawiya fought against the forces of the fourth caliph Ali (RA) at the Battle of Siffin. The battle remained indecisive. Later, Muawiya’s commander Amr ibn al-As (RA) took Egypt from Ali while taking advantage of the Battle of Nahrawan that took place between Ali and his former allies, the Kharijites.

In 661 AD, Ali was martyred by a khawariji and he was replaced by his son Hassan bin Ali (RA) as the new Caliph. Hassan started peace negotiations with Muawiya and they reached a deal. Under this deal, Muawiya became the Caliph of all Muslims in 661 AD and it marks the beginning of the Umayyad Caliphate.

List of Umayyad Rulers

Following is the list of rulers during the Umayyad Caliphate and important events that took place during their reigns.

Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan

Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan, also known as Muawiya I, became the sole rule of the Islamic Caliphate in 661 after signing a peace agreement with Hasan bin Ali. He transferred the capital and treasury from Iraq (Kufa) to Syria (Damascus). He largely maintained good relations with different Arabian tribes throughout his reign and appointed faithful and capable governors that ensured internal peace and prosperity.

The Caliphate was already controlling the Arabian peninsula along with the Levant, Egypt, and Iran. He continued the land and naval raids against Byzantine Empire that were halted during First Fitna. He managed to conquer central North Africa from Byzantines and also a few parts of Sistan (eastern Iran).

His most controversial decision was the appointment of his son, Yazid ibn Muawiya, as his successor. This caused the beginning of Second Fitnah (or Second Civil War). He remained caliph for 19 years (661 to 680).

Yazid ibn Muawiya

The era (680-683) of Yazid ibn Muawiya was plagued with internal strife. His appointment was categorically rejected by two prominent companions, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Hussain ibn Ali (grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)). He initially tried to take oath from Hussain ibn Ali forcibly which resulted in Hussain’s martyrdom in a small but deadly Battle of Karbala. Abdullah ibn Zubayr was accompanied by people from Hejaz. Yazid died while in process of taking the area back from ibn Zubayr.

Muawiya ibn Yazid

Muawiya bin Yazid, also known as Muawiya II, was the last Umayyad ruler of the Sufiyani clan. He ruled for just 6 months before his death. He tried to negotiate with Abdullah ibn Zubayr to settle the differences peacefully but remained unsuccessful till his death.

Abdul Malik ibn Marwan

The sudden death of Muawiya II weakened the Umayyad grip over authority as there was no legitimate heir of Umayyad left. In these circumstances, Marwan bin al-Hakam, a prominent Umayyad, initially tried to deal with Abdullah bin Zubayr. But upon Abdullah’s refusal, Marwan declared himself to be the leader of Umayyad. But he and his son Abdul Malik had to fight a multi-sided civil war against the two other contenders of the Caliphate; Abdullah ibn Zubair and Mukhtar Thaqfi (a Shiite). This civil war ended in 692 and Abdul Malik bin Marwan became the ruler of the entire caliphate.

He proved to be a capable ruler and managed to bring down rebellions in all parts of the caliphate. He recommenced Muslim raids against the Byzantine Empire and Central Asia. This resulted in recapturing of central North Africa (Ifriqiya) and Armenia along with strengthening fronts in Central Asia.

Other important events that took place during his reign were: construction of the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah), the Arabization of the bureaucracy, and the establishment of Islamic currency. He appointed his capable son, Walid I, as his successor who continued his conquests with renewed zeal and fervor.

Walid ibn Abdul Malik

The reign of Walid bin Abdul Malik (Walid ibn Abd al-Malik), or Walid I, is recognized as the greatest period of the Umayyad Caliphate and one of the greatest in Islamic history. During these ten years (705-715), Muslim armies achieved substantial victories on both eastern and western fronts. Sind, in South Asia, and a large part of Transoxiana (Central Asia), came under the direct rule of the Caliphate of Walid I. On the western front, his commanders conquered Maghrib (western North Africa) before toppling the Visigoth kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula.

Walid’s era has witnessed several other achievements. He used the treasure acquired through conquests on social welfare projects and the construction of mosques. Walid constructed Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and completed Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He also expanded several mosques in Hejaz including the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque in Madinah.

Sulayman ibn Abdul Malik

Sulayman was the brother of Walid I who became the Umayyad ruler in 715 after Walid’s death. He ruled for just over 2 years. He is known for dismissing most of the governors and military commanders installed by Walid I. He also punished a few of these governors and generals as they disagreed with the appointment of Sulayman as Caliph during Walid I’s life. A notable example is the torture and death of the conqueror of Sind and Hajjaj’s nephew Muhammad bin Qasim. All these measures halted the pace of conquests during Walid’s era.

But he continued his raids against Byzantine and at other fronts. He conquered the area south of the Caspian Sea that remained out of reach for former caliphs despite their annexation of large territories. He also conquered few eastern parts of the Byzantine Empire but his efforts to siege Constantinople failed in 717 and 718.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was the son of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan’s brother Abdul Aziz. His reign was also short-lived (717-720) but he is renowned for his simple and religious lifestyle.

Instead of conquering new areas, he made efforts to spread Islam in the already conquered areas and also to foreign nations. Most of the people in Iran and Egypt embraced Islam during his Caliphate. He also invited rulers of China and Tibet to accept Islam. The official collection of Hadith (sayings of Holy Prophet (PBUH)) was also initiated during his era.

He lifted the largely unsuccessful Siege of Constantinople in 718 and halted the unnecessary campaign in Central Asia. But many areas in Spain were conquered during his rule. He also suppressed the revolt of Kharijites in Iraq successfully.

He abolished drinking, implemented a dress code, and expanded the social welfare programs of his predecessors. He terminated unlawful and unethical favors for government officials and urged them to listen and resolve public complaints. These and other reforms made him an exemplary caliph in the Umayyad dynasty.

Yazid ibn Abdul Malik

Yazid ibn Abdul Malik (also known as Yazid II) ruled the Umayyad Caliphate from 620 to 624 AD. He is known for the construction of a large number of desert palaces in today’s Jordan and other parts of Bilad al-Sham.

He faced a revolt from former Umayyad governor Yazid ibn al-Muhallab and his Yamani tribe. He suppressed the revolt mercilessly. But this generated the feeling of hatred among the Yemeni faction and they turned towards the Abbasids during their successful revolt against Umayyad in their last years. An important military event during his era was the capture of Balanjar, the capital of Khazar Khaganate in the North Caucasus.

He reimposed tax on non-Arab Muslims that was previously abandoned by Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz to support non-Arabs to accept Islam. He also issued a controversial Iconoclastic Edict of removing all icons from Christian Churches within the Caliphate.

Hisham ibn Abdul Malik

Hisham was the last of the 4 Caliph sons of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan. His 19 years of rule (724-743) strengthened the grip of the Umayyad Caliphate.

Hisham was religiously conservative and he reintroduced Shariah-based measures taken by Umar ibn Abdul Aziz. He also facilitated education by building new schools and translating scientific and literary masterpieces into the Arabic language.

He successfully suppressed revolts by Kharijites (in The Maghrib) and Zayd ibn Ali (in Kufa). He was also able to resolve internal conflicts in Spain and continued the advances of Muslims. These advances were halted by defeat in the Battle of Tours in 732 which marked the limit of Muslim conquest in the Iberian Peninsula.

Hisham faced few setbacks in the Caucasus and Central Asia but was able to reassert his control over Sind by defeating the Hindu rebellion. He also conquered few areas from the Byzantine Empire.

Third Fitna

Hisham proved to be the last capable Umayyad ruler. His successor, Walid II, was more inclined towards worldly pleasures and incompetent. He was assassinated by Yazid ibn Walid I and he became Caliph. But he died just after 6 months and appointed his brother Ibrahim as his successor. But his succession was rejected by Marwan ibn Muhammad (nephew of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan).

Marwan took the throne in 744 without bloodshed. He faced rebellions from Kharijite and Abbasids in Iran and Iraq, Coptic Christians in Egypt, and even internal confrontation within Umayyad stronghold Syria. He managed to defeat Kharijite and internal rebellions. But opposition from Abbasids proved disastrous. Marwan was defeated in the final Battle of Zab and later assassinated in Egypt. This marked the end of the Umayyad Caliphate.

This followed the large-scale assassination of Umayyad princes and other nobles related to the Umayyad dynasty. But an able prince, Abdul Rahman I, managed to escape towards Hispania and founded the Emirate of Cordoba in 756.

Friday, 14 February 2020


Adolf Hitler is one of the most well-known figures of 20th Century thanks to his role in initiating and developing World War 2. He was directly behind the assassination of millions of Jewish, Slavs and other civilians during the war. A lot has been written about personal and political life of this infamous personality. But still there are several aspects of his life that are unknown to common people.

Following are few of the most interesting and unbelievable facts about Adolf Hitler’s life.

He was not a German by birth

Hitler was the most aggressive proponent of German nationalism. But in fact he himself wasn’t a German by birth. He was born in Austria during the last decade of 20th Century. He moved to Germany in early 1920s and later renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925. During his stay in Germany, he legally remained nation-less for 7 years. He was given citizenship of Germany in 1932.

Hitler initially had long mustaches

Hitler is commonly known for having unique toothbrush mustaches. But he had long mustaches during World War 1. He later adopted this fashion as a result of a mishap that almost took his life. During this war, soldiers had to use gas masks in order to avoid poisonous gas fired by enemy. But Hitler was unable to close the mask completely thanks to his long mustaches. This nearly took his life. His supervisor ordered him to shave his mustaches but he instead trimmed them to the size for which he is known for.

He participated for Germany in WW1

Hitler was an Austrian citizen at the start of World War 1. But he opted to fight for Bavarian army, part of German Empire, instead of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He later explained that his refusal to serve in the Austrian army was due to its mix racial presence. He was allowed to serve in the Bavarian army as no one raised the issue of his Austrian citizenship. He earned Iron Cross First Cross medal for his services during WW1. He was wearing this medal when he committed suicide in 1945.

Survived several assassination attempts

Hitler took his life after defeat in WW2 in 1945. But before that, he was able to survive number of assassination attempts. He survived more than 20 assassination attempts during his life. Most of these attempts were made during the course of World War 2.

He had a passion for painting

Hitler’s father wanted him to become a civil servant. But his ambition of earlier age was to become an artist. For this purpose, he left his home town at the age of 18 after death of his mother and moved to Vienna to fulfill his objective. But his paintings were rejected twice by Vienna’s Academy of the Fine Arts in 1907 and 1908.

These failures forced him to live in a homeless shelter for some time. But he managed to leave homeless shelter when started making money by selling his paintings. He continued this profession till the start of World War 1 in 1914. [1]

Healthy and unhealthy habits

Hitler had few medical problems, especially colitis and insomnia, throughout his life. He was a regular user of morphine and other drugs daily on prescription of his physician T Morell.

But otherwise, he had several healthy habits. He was a vegetarian and avoided alcohol and smoking for most part of his life. Hitler was physically strong with ideal body weight and healthy immune system. [2] 

Laws against animal cruelty

Hitler had no mercy for certain human races and he wanted their extermination. But ironically, the attitude of Hitler and his Nazi party was very humane towards animals. The Nazi party introduced several laws for welfare of animals and eradication of animal cruelty after they came to power in 1933. Hitler was against hunting and his love for dogs is well known. He was accompanied by his pet dog before his suicide. [3] 

1938 Time’s Man of the Year

Adolf Hitler was named as “Person of the Year” in 1938 by Time Magazine. The magazine explained the reason behind this choice because Hitler was the greatest threatening force for democratic world. Despite this explanation, it is known as one of the most controversial picks by Time Magazine. [4] 

Wednesday, 1 January 2020


Fall of Byzantine was a gradual process that completed the extermination of Roman Empire. This process started with Division of Roman Empire in the 3rd Century in to Western Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire. Western Roman Empire was captured by Germanic tribes in 476 AD. But the eastern part of Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) lasted for a far longer period and it came to an end in 1453 after the Fall of Constantinople or the Conquest of Constantinople by Ottoman Empire.

Events leading to the Fall of Byzantine Empire

Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires of ancient history that controlled areas in Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa during its zenith. But due to internal factors and external invasions, the empire started to crumble in the 4th Century with the division of Roman Empire in to eastern and western parts. 

After fall of Western Roman Empire, the eastern part of Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) lasted for around 1000 more years. Fall of Byzantine Empire didn’t happen immediately. But it was a gradual process as the Byzantine Empire initially gained successes and then lost its areas from time to time.
  1. In the start of 7th Century, the Byzantine Empire was controlling the areas of Asia Minor, southern Europe and North Africa. In 602, the Byzantine-Sassanid War started that lasted till 628. The initial phase of the war was destructive for the Byzantine Empire as they lost most of their eastern areas and were also in danger to lose their capital (Constantinople). But the situation reversed later and the Byzantine successfully regained all its lost areas. Though the war ended with minor victory for Byzantine but it weakened them militarily and economically that proved critical against later Muslim invasions. 
  2. In 634 AD, the battles between Arab-Muslim forces under Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire started. Muslims captured Levant in 636 after the decisive Battle of Yarmouk while the Muslims took Egypt from Byzantines in 646 AD. These Muslim victories deprived the Byzantine Empire from fertile lands of Levant and Egypt. By 709 AD, Byzantines lost all their areas of North Africa to Muslims. Byzantines also lost eastern Anatolia and few Mediterranean islands during this period.
  3. Muslim invasion towards Constantinople started during the reign of first Umayyad Caliph Muawiya. These invasions and sieges continued during era of Abbasid dynasty. Byzantine were able to repel most of these invasions and sieges successfully but it weakened the empire gradually.
  4. Byzantine Empire regained most of its areas in the 10th Century that is credited to Basil I and his Macedonian successors.
  5. But the situation reversed in 11th Century at the hands of Seljuk Empire. The Byzantine Empire lost its major areas not only at the hands of Seljuk Empire in Anatolia but also several western parts against Italians and Balkan rebels.
  6. This forced the Byzantine to ask assistance from Western Europeans. The loss of Anatolia at the hands of Muslim Seljuk was an important factor behind beginning of Crusades. An important aim of the 1st Crusade was to liberate Anatolia from Muslims. The Crusaders achieved this purpose but it was loss of sovereignty for Byzantine Empire.
  7. The most drastic event for Byzantine Empire was its capture by Crusaders during the 4th Crusade following a dispute. Constantinople was sacked by Crusaders in 1204 and they forcibly deployed rulers according to their choice. The empire later was able to recapture Constantinople in 1261 thanks to resistance from remaining areas of Nicaea, Trebizond and Epirus. But the economic, military and political loss was unrecoverable.  
  8. The rise of Ottoman Empire proved to be the end point for Byzantine Empire. It gradually lost important areas at the hands of Ottomans in the 14th and 15th Century. The fall of Byzantine Empire was completed by Ottomans after fall of Constantinople in 1453 at the hands of Mehmed the Conqueror, the 7th Ottoman Emperor.

Factors behind fall of Byzantine Empire

Continuous invasions from Muslims

The most important reason behind the fall of Byzantine Empire was the continuous and unending invasions of Muslims over Byzantine, especially Constantinople. It was not only an important strategic area but it had religious importance as well.

It is the reason that Muslims never stopped their efforts to conquer Constantinople, the capital of Byzantine Empire, despite extreme difficulties and continuous failures. These continuous raids and sieges put the Romans under pressure and weakened them miserably.

Christian Schism

The religious schism between different branches of Christianity also played important role in fall of Byzantine Empire. Crusaders gladly assisted their brethren against Muslims but they were ready to fight against them when there were even minor differences.

Crusaders assisted the Byzantine Empire to regain control of their lost areas in Anatolia against Seljuk Empire during 1st Crusade. But these same Crusaders also captured and plundered Constantinople during the 4th Crusade that was an important event for fall of Byzantine Empire.

Emergence of Incompetent Rulers

The lack of competent rulers was also important factor that brought the fall of Byzantine. An example is the rule of capable Macedonian rulers from 871 to 1065. During this era, the empire flourished and expanded continuously. But later, the emergence of incompetent leaders resulted in decline and later fall of the empire.

Civil Wars

Byzantine Empire was facing adversaries from all around in the 14th Century. In this situation, it was extremely necessary to keep unity of the empire. But instead, various factions inside the empire were extremely hostile to each other. It resulted in the emergence of internal conflicts that further weakened the empire. A very good example was several civil wars that were fought throughout the 14th Century.

All these civil wars (1321-1328, 1341-1347, 1352-1357 and 1373-1379) continued for several years. The real beneficiaries of all these wars were neighboring countries and empires like Serbia, Bulgaria and Ottomans. These powers were behind one of the two factions during the civil war and gained territories from Byzantine Empire in return for their services. This resulted in further weakening of the empire that assured its downfall.

Saturday, 2 June 2018


Mongol Empire was the greatest empire of 13th Century which is ranked among the most ruthless empires of the whole human history. During 14th Century, the Mongol Empire disintegrated in to several relatively smaller dynasties. After its  emergence in 1206 from Mongolia, the Mongol Empire captured vast areas of Eurasia in just few decades under the leadership of Genghis Khan and his military commanders. 

The rise of nomads of Mongolia to become rulers of area comprising today’s Russia, China, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of Middle East etc. was not merely due to capabilities of Mongols. In fact, several other factors also played important role in the establishment of such huge empire.

Rise of the Mongol Empire - Important Reasons

Leadership of Genghis Khan 
Portrait of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan leadership qualities played major role in Mongol victories

Before the emergence of Genghis Khan, Mongols were divided in various groups and tribes who fight against each other to control their areas. Genghis Khan also had to fight against his enemies to take control of his tribe. He then managed to gather all the other Mongolian tribes under his banner. Mongols were great warriors and only lack appropriate leadership to become a superpower. This leadership was provided by Genghis Khan with his bravery, wisdom and other leadership qualities.

Battlefield Tactics

Mongols proved themselves to be the masters of battlefield by designing various strategies and showing marvelous fighting skills. By using new tactics,  the Mongols were able to defeat enemies several times greater than their own armies. The Mongols were expert in withstanding harsh living conditions. They were masters of military skills like throwing arrows with their bows while riding a running horse (horse archery). These capabilities made them superior to their enemies. 
Mongols were masters of horse archery

Laws of Yassa

‘Yassa’ was a code of law introduced by Genghiz Khan and it was compulsory for Mongols to accept and act upon this law. The lawbreakers were given severe punishments. These comprehensive laws provide directions about political, social and domestic issues. ‘Yassa’ was a major factor for uniting the Mongol Empire and creating discipline among Mongol nomads.

Cruelty against Resistant Enemies

Mongols were notorious for their cruelty and it was worst against the opponents that show stiff resistance against them. The citizens of Baghdad, Khwarezmia, Kievan Rus and several other areas were annihilated by the Mongols. These tactics were used not only to exterminate any potential future danger but also to create the feeling of fear among enemies that resisting the Mongols will be ‘unforgivable crime’.

Making use of Opponents’ Skills

Mongols were not cruel on every opponent but they also used the skilled and capable people of other nations for their own benefit. An important example is the presence of foreign physicians, engineers and firearm experts in the Mongol army. All these expert and skilled persons were selected by Mongols from their defeated nations.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018


Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), commonly known as Soviet Union, was a socialist state that lasted from 1922 to 1991. Major areas of Eastern and Central Asia and Eastern Europe were part of Soviet Union with its capital in Russian city of Moscow. Soviet Union played major role in the defeat of Germany in World War 2 after which it became a superpower along with USA. 

As leader of Communism, USSR had great influence in several parts of Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. USSR emerged after the fall of Russian Empire and victory of Red Army against White Army. Main reasons behind the rise of Soviet Union are listed below.  

Economic condition of Russian Empire

In the start of 20th Century, Russian economy was facing severe economic and political instability that gave rise to social unrest. The situation was used by communists as they promised equal rights to people of lower status. The economic condition worsened with the passage of time and problems of people like factory workers, farmers etc. increased miserably which strengthened the ranks of Bolsheviks. 

Through increase in numbers among lower part of society, communists were able to establish a communist state in Russia in 1917. The most important role for their success was played by the weak economic condition of Russian Empire at the start of 20th Century.

World War 1

The situation of Russian Empire was not stable at the start of World War 1 in 1914. Russia had suffered a humiliating defeat against Japan in Russo-Japanese War(1904-05). Later, the Duma (Russian Parliament) was established in 1906 that paved way for constitutional monarchy in place of absolute monarchy. But the Emperor Nicholas II was not ready to shift his major powers to Duma. Workers' strikes were on rise due to weak economic conditions. The situation demanded to avoid any conflict but Russia decided to enter the war in favor of Allied Powers against Germany. 

This proved to be the last nail in the coffin of Russian Empire. Severe human and material loss in the World War 1 forced the emperor to step down from his power and the responsibilities were taken by provisional government during the course of the war. But the new government also decided to continue the war in favor of allies which ended in the empowerment of ‘Bolsheviks’ after October Revolution.

Victory in Russian civil war

Soon after the ‘October Revolution’, the Russian Civil War started between the Soviet Red Army and ‘White Army’ (supporters of monarchy). White Army was supported by several countries of Allied Powers. But the Red Army had more support inside Russia that assisted them to defeat the White Army in 1922. This ended every resistance against Bolshevik rule and resulted in the establishment of Soviet Union.

Large Scale Industrialization 
Large scale industrialization assisted USSR financially

Under the regime of Joseph Stalin, large scale industrialization started in late 1920s. New industries were established with modern equipment under this policy which increased the industrial production many times as compared to the period of Russian Empire. This high rate of industrialization helped Soviet Russia to keep levels of goods productions at high and made it possible for them to fight a long and bloody war against Nazi Germany during World War 2.  

Policy in World War 2

At the start of World War 2, Germany and Russia signed ‘no-war pact’ that helped the Soviet Russia to annexed areas in Eastern and Central Europe. Later in 1941, Hitler turned his attention towards USSR after getting rid of Western Europe in order to end the danger of communism and "purge the earth from Slav people". Russia suffered heavy casualties at the hands of Nazis during German invasion on Russia (Operation Barbarossa) but they managed to save their important cities of Moscow and Leningrad during this invasion. 

Russia had already signed a pact with Japan (Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact) in 1941 which helped them to transport their additional and fresh troops from eastern to western side for their counteroffensive against Germany. In this counter attack, Russians not only took back all the areas from exhausted German Army but also captured many other areas from Germany including the eastern part of Germany. The Russian victory against Nazi Germany helped the soviet republic to increase its influence and create an Eastern Bloc.

Policies of Stalin

Joseph Stalin became leader of Soviet Union in 1920s and remained at this position till his death in 1953. He played most important role in strengthening of USSR economically and militarily. After consolidating his power, Stalin focused completely on making USSR a communist state by adopting the concept of ‘Socialism in One Country’ after shunning the idea of ‘international socialism'. He transformed the economy of Russia from agrarian to industrial through his industrialization and collectivization policy. The advancement in science and technology was also rapid. 
Joseph Stalin
Stalin policies played main role in USSR rise

His cruel policy of "Gulag Labor Camps” and “Great Purge” helped him to eliminate rebellious nations and political rivals respectively. He was the main planner to defeat Nazi Germany during World War 2. Few of his policies proved disastrous for USSR in later stages. But there is no doubt he was the man behind the rise of communism in Russia and also in the rise of USSR as a superpower.


Friday, 20 April 2018


Soviet Union was a major world power after its establishment in 1922 and became a superpower after World War 2 in 1945. After World War 2, Soviet Union established a communist bloc which remained in tussle against US led bloc. Both USA and USSR remained in the state of ‘cold war’ between 1945 and 1990 during which both superpowers escaped a full fledge war but oppose each other in various conflicts through their proxies. The whole era is especially known for the ‘Cold War’ between the two superpowers. 

This situation ended in 1992 with the collapse of USSR after which USA emerged as the sole superpower. The main reasons behind the collapse of USSR are following.

Long-standing Cold War Against USA

After World War 2 in 1945, Soviet Union captured the whole of Eastern Europe including East Germany while its influence spread in several areas of Asia, Europe and South America. USA and its allies formed Western Bloc in order to counter this situation after which the ‘Cold War’ started between USSR, USA and their allies.

Korean War (1950-53), Cuban Crisis (1963), Vietnam War (1960s) and Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979-88) were major confrontations between the two blocs while USA and USSR assisted their proxies in several other regional conflicts also. This continuous warfare put a burden on the economy of USSR and it weakened continuously with passage of time. This proved to be an important reason for the collapse of USSR.

Invasion of Afghanistan

In December 1979, USSR invaded Afghanistan in order to protect its proxy regime of Afghanistan against any Afghan resistance. Russian invasion put alarms in neighboring countries of Afghanistan especially Pakistan where this invasion and capture by USSR was seen as a part of plan to reach the warm waters (Arabian Sea). Pakistan supported the resistance movement of Afghans against the Soviet invasion from its start and it was later joined by USA and several other Muslim and European countries. The war was fought with religious fervor also against the ‘Atheist invaders’ (USSR). 
Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan map
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan proved disastrous

Soviet forces and their Afghan supporters failed to suppress the guerilla warfare of Afghan opponents who were continuously supported by rich and advanced Western and Muslim countries, militarily and economically. This failed invasion by USSR not only drained the economy of Soviet Union but it also ended the title of the Soviet Army as ‘undefeatable’ which resulted in collapse of Soviet Union and independence of many countries.

Oppression against Opponents

Soviet Union was a one-party government in which there was no place for opposition of Communist regime while persecution of opponents was not unusual. During Russian Civil War (1918-22), thousands of peasants and industrial workers were executed by Russian secret police. Gulags (labor camps) were established during Russian Civil War and they retained their position till 1950s. Millions of people were thrown in these camps for forced labor that resulted in deaths of many. 

But the most horrific period came during the era of Joseph Stalin. He suppressed anyone considered to be against communism of his choice through his intelligence agencies and secret police. He assassinated his rivals in communist party like Leon Trotsky (founder of red Army), Nikolai Yezhov (head of Soviet secret agency NKVD) and several others during Great Purge (1936-38) in order to ‘cleanse’ the communist party and red army from undesired persons. Gulags also expanded during his era. On number of occasions, whole population of different areas was transferred to other destinations by Soviets. This forced displacement took lives of large number of peoples and change the ethnic composition of several areas. 

These oppressive measures consolidated the communist rule in occupied areas. But people in these areas never accepted the oppressive regime by heart and when they were given chance to make choice about their destiny (in the start of 1990s), people of these areas immediately voted in favor of freedom from USSR.

Policies against Religions

USSR was an atheist regime where communist party had the complete control over the government and one had to be an atheist to be a part of communist party. But it didn’t end there as religions and religious people remained under persecution of the Soviet regime. Christians and Muslims faced the worst persecution under Soviet Union during various eras. 
Demolition of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Several religious buildings were demolished in USSR

Christianity (Russian Orthodox) lost its status of official religion in USSR that it was enjoying during Russian Empire. Soviet authorities locked and demolished several Churches and Mosques during the whole Soviet era and there were restrictions on religious practices. Several priests and clergymen were executed during the starting era of Soviet Revolution. In 1917, there were around 25000 mosques in Central Asia that were reduced to just 500 in the 1970s. 

Due to this brutal treatment of religions, the Christians and Muslims of several republics in USSR favored the independence of their sates from Soviet Union in the start of 1990s. This situation was also used in Afghan War that was also fought on religious grounds against the atheist Soviet Union.


Soviet Union was hit by several famines due to wars and its economic policies. The first famine was the famine of 1921-23 that took lives of around 5 million people in the regions of Volga and Ural rivers. This famine was the direct effect of Russian Civil War and Soviet policy of ‘confiscation of grain’. 
Starving children in Russia in 1922
Millions of people died during famines in USSR

The collectivization of agriculture sector was adopted by Stalin that resulted in the most sever famine of 1932-33 that resulted in the deaths of around 6 million people, mostly in Ukraine and North Caucasus. 

The third major famine occurred in 1946-47 that took the lives of more than 1 million people. Soviet economic policies and World War 2 were major causes of this famine.

These famines proved that not only the economic policies of USSR were unrealistic but also the authorities were more interested in concealing the number of deaths instead of providing food to the affected people. Non Russian people were the main targets of these famines and it created such hatred against communism and USSR in their hearts that they were ready to accept any chance provided for their freedom from USSR.

Thursday, 19 April 2018


In 1992, USSR collapsed after the fall of the communist regime and independence of several states from Asian and European parts of USSR. Soviet Union was a superpower before its dissolution. It is the reason that this collapse not only changed the political and economic condition in the areas directly related to USSR but it impacted heavily on global scale also.

Following are important long and short term effects that were seen after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

End of the Cold War

Soon after the end of World War 2 in 1945, USA and USSR emerged as two superpowers that were leading two opposite economic systems, capitalism and communism respectively. Both had the intention to spread their respective economic system and influence in other parts of the world and it gave rise to hostility between the two superpowers. But both these superpowers had dangerous and lethal weapons (including nuclear weapons), and their direct conflict could be resulted in the destruction of the whole world.

Therefore, both countries tried to spread their influence and stop the other to do the same through cold war. Both formed various defense alliances. They also backed regimes or their opponents in different parts of world according to their political benefit. Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War, conflict in the Middle East and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were few of the examples when these two powers tried to harm the other with their proxies.

But the invasion of Afghanistan proved disastrous for USSR. It exhausted the Soviet Union militarily and economically that resulted in the disintegration of USSR and its conversion to Russian Federation. After this military failure, the cold war ended as the newly established Russian Federation was not capable to start any conflict with the West or even to protect its allies (e.g. Yugoslavia).

Independence of several Countries

Soviet Union was the unification of Russia and many of its semi-autonomous federations. But in reality, these federations, with non-Russian ethnic majority population, were under the strict control of USSR where people were not allowed to oppose the communist system and only the people of Communist party were allowed to rule these semi-autonomous areas. People of these areas were subjected to harsh treatment and several restrictions. They faced famines, tortures, forced migrations, religious restrictions and several other ill treatments but they were unable to gain freedom due to military might of USSR.

But the situation changed after failed Russian invasion of Afghanistan as it depleted its financial reserves and ended the fear of its once considered undefeatable army. Now the USSR was also not in a position to keep these federations with it. In the start of 1990s, all these 13 federations of Central Asia and eastern Europe voted for independence almost unanimously that resulted in the establishment of Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan and Turkmenistan. 
Fall of USSR resulted in independence of several countries

Apart from these federations, East and West Germany reunited again with the fall of Berlin Wall. The people of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and others also gained independence after the breakage of Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia also disintegrated in to Slovakia and Czech Republic and both countries also abolished communism. 

Decline of Communism

Modern Communism gained fame after the release of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The ideology of communism was based on the poor social conditions of factory workers as they were exploited by their owners. The purpose of this movement was to nationalize the means of production and the distribution of money among people according to their needs that would eliminate social classes. 

Soviet Union became the first communist country after taking power in 1922. USSR adopted communism in the country and also tried to export communism in different parts of the world. But the famines in initial stage of communism and the worse economic conditions in USSR in its later stages turned people of different parts of the world, even Russia itself, against the communist system.

People felt that expectations from communism are nothing more than beautiful dreams. Soon after the end of communism in USSR, the system also weakened in other parts of the world. Most of the former communist states abolished this system and now very few countries (China, Cuba, N. Korea etc.) have the communist system.

USA as the sole Super Power

After the fall of Soviet Union, there was no country so much powerful (militarily, economically and scientifically) that could replace USSR as the second superpower opposing USA. Due to this, USA became the only superpower remained on earth. It was later evident that US didn’t face severe opposition in its military conflicts (especially wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq) due to absence of any other superpower.