Northern Eurasia 1985: Soviet War in Afghanistan
In 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan to support its new communist government against Islamist rebels. The result was a costly nine year war which added resurgent Islam to Moscow's long list of enemies.
7 Jan 1978–11 Feb 1979 Iranian Revolution▲
In 1978 riots broke out across Iran, sparked by government denouncement of the exiled Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini—a popular critic of monarch Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Fueled by the Shah’s indecisiveness and Khomeini’s use of the media, anti-government protests peaked between August and December, pushing the Shah to leave for exile on 16 January 1979. On 1 February Khomeini returned, assuming official power when the royal reign collapsed ten days later.
25–28 Dec 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan▲
In 1978 the pro-Soviet Nur Muhammad Taraki had seized power in Afghanistan and established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, but was overthrown by Hafizullah Amin in September 1979 and murdered the following month. Amin maintained Soviet military support but Afghan–Soviet relations began to quickly deteriorate nonetheless. On Christmas Day the Soviet Union landed troops in Kabul and began securing key points in the country, killing Amin on 27 December and installing a more pliant Babrak Karmal as leader.
31 Aug 1980–15 Dec 1981 Solidarity movement in Poland▲
Solidarity movement in Poland
22 Sep–5 Dec 1980 Iraqi invasion of Iran▲
Hoping to take advantage of Iran’s post-revolutionary chaos and concerned that its Shi’ite radicalism would destabilize his own country, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran in September 1980. Despite the element of surprise, Iraqi Air Force attacks on Iranian airfields failed to significantly damage the Iranian Air Force. The next day Iraqi troops crossed the border on a 644 km front, eventually capturing the city of Khorramshahr but failing to achieve a decisive breakthrough.
11 Mar 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev▲
Following the deaths in quick succession of Supreme Leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo appointed its youngest member, Mikhail Gorbachev, as the new General Secretary.