In the study of World History, Central Asia is an anomaly. There isn’t a lot of civilization originating out of there, but a whole lot of civilizations get involved with it. It’s not really entirely part of any other region because of all the influences on it. It’s also one of the last things empires touch before they fizzle out into the shades of history.
The people of Afghanistan have a saying, “Nobody wins in Afghanistan, not even the Afghans.” Consider:
* Medes: take it and then get overthrown by the Achaemenids
* Achaemenids: they start out with Central Asia, but it’s only a matter of time for them before Al the Great cleans their clock.
* Alexander the Great: conquers Bactria, dies soon thereafter, empire collapses.
* Selucids: they can’t hold the area and hand it over to the Mauryans, then get owned by the Romans.
* Mauryans: They lose Bactria to a Greek rebellion, then fall apart
* Bactria: Does not end well for them. Overrun by nomads. Not a good way to go, at all.
* Indo-Greek Empire: Conquers Bactria, then implodes due to civil war.
* Han China: gets out that way, then collapses.
* Parthia: Takes the region from the Scythians, then loses it in rebellion, then collapses as an empire
* Persia: rises in glory, conquers Central Asia, fights with the Byzantines and then is utterly destroyed by the rise of Islam
* Islamic Caliphate… gets out that way, then the Umayyads fall and their empire collapses.
* Tang Dynasty: undone after a disastrous Central Asian battle.
* Khwarezmids: They proudly conquer Central Asia in 1205. Mongols arrive in 1219, which is bad news for the Khwarezmids…
* Mongols: Like Alexander, they take Central Asia early on, then their empire fractures and fades.
* Timurids: They start off as a Central Asian empire. It does not end well for them, although one of their rulers has a great re-invention as the founder of the Moghul Empire in India… never gets Central Asia back, though…
* Safavids: They take Afghanistan, and then stir up a massive uprising there that results in the Afghans invading Persia and ruining the place… then the Persians rise up and destroy the empire of their Afghan rulers, conquer Afghanistan, then collapse as an empire utterly.
* Durranis: Local dynasty that manages to rule for about 70 years, then collapses due to infighting.
* British: They lose an entire army in Afghanistan in the 1840s and don’t take over the place until the 1880s… and then their empire starts to unravel in a series of increasingly successful independence movements.
* Russia: Takes over Central Asia after running out of Siberia and Europe… completely destroyed in revolution soon afterward.
* Soviet Union: Yeah, like *they* had staying power. They didn’t even last as long as the Durranis before things started to unravel for them in 1989… a collapse accelerated by their attempt to take Afghanistan.
* Taliban: Nope. They did not win in Afghanistan, and they’re still ruining everyone’s day over there.
* USA: oooh, this is the raw nerve… but the sad fact remains that when a nation’s soldiers are being shot at by weapons soldiers traded to the resistance for drugs, it’s not going to win that war.
I admit a bit of a cavalier approach in some of my assessments… stretching points here and there… but it’s a nice survey of Central Asia, all the same.
Come Visit Beautiful Central Asia: Graveyard of Empires!