The Saur Revolution: The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan Siezes Power

The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power in Afghanistan on 27 April 1978.

It is said that this movement led indirectly to the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

In 1978 a prominent member of Parcham, Mir Akbar Khyber (or "Kaibar"), was killed by the government and his associates. Although the government issued a statement deploring the assassination, PDPA leaders apparently feared that Mohammed Daoud Khan was planning to exterminate them all. Shortly after a massive protest against the government during the funeral ceremonies of Mir Akbar Khaibar most of the leaders of PDPA were arrested by the government. Amin and a number of military wing officers of the PDPA Khalq wing stayed out of prison. This gave a chance to the group to organize an uprising. The government with the help of PDPA military members fell and the PDPA leadership was out of jail. Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal, and Hafizullah Amin overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud, and renaming the country the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The word 'Saur' means 'April' in Pushto.

Once in power, the party moved to permit freedom of religion and place agricultural resources under state control. They also made a number of ambitious statements on women's rights and waived the farmers debts countrywide. The majority of people in the cities including Kabul either welcomed it or were ambivalent to these policies. However, the secular nature of the government made it unpopular with religiously conservative Afghans in the villages and the countryside, who favored traditional Islamic restrictions on women's rights and in daily life. Their opposition became particularly pronounced after the Soviet Union occupied the country in late December 1979, fearing it was in danger of being toppled by mujahideen forces.

The U.S. saw the situation as a prime opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union, and the move essentially signaled the end of the d├ętente era initiated by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In 1978 the United States began training insurgents in,and directing propaganda broadcasts into Afghanistan from Pakistan. Then, in early 1979, U.S. foreign service officers began meeting insurgent leaders to determine their needs. According to the then US Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski, CIA aid to the insurgents within Afghanistan was approved in July 1979, six months before the Soviet Invasion. According to Brzezinski, aid to the insurgents was begununder the Carter administration, with the intention of provoking Soviet intervention and was significantly boosted under the Reagan administration, which was committed to actively rolling back Soviet influence in the Third World. The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared a similarly conservative Islamic ideology, to varying degrees.