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You may have noticed the vicious circle that continues with the various governments that control Afghanistan in The Kite Runner. Virtually all of the governments rule without attempting to unify the ethnic groups that make up the country, and types of ethnic cleansing evolved during the timeline of the book. Religious intolerance also is evidenced, even within the Muslim religion which splits the country between the orthodox Sunni and minority Shi'a. These religious and ethnic splits are the one common thread that continue during the story. Under the rule of King Zahir Shah, when the story opens, there is a small but wealthy upper class that includes Amir's father, Baba. The vast majority of the country is poor and several of the nation's ethnic groups, particularly the Hazara, are scorned by many of the ruling tribes, such as the Pashtuns and Tajiks. The changes in government--first with the coup led by Zamir Shah's nephew Daoud Khan 1973 and followed by Khan's overthrow in 1978--create new leaders buf never a change for the betterment of the Afghan people. The Russian takeover in 1979 created a socialist leadership that backed the poor, but Afghan rebels immediately began to fight back. More than a million Afghans died during the occupation. After the Russian withdrawal, Afghan civil war continued until the Mujahideen gained control over the socialist Najibullah regime. The Afghan people were first ecstatic when the Taliban took back the country in the 1990s, but they began an even more terrifying cleansing of the Hazara, and relegated women to a subjective role. After the 9/11 bombings, the U.S. and the Afghan Northern Alliance retook control of the country. Although a semblance of a democratic government now exists, the threat of al-Qaida and the Taliban still presents Afghanistan with religious and ethnic intolerance that continues to claim the lives of their countrymen.
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