Monday, June 27

Afghanistan in Context: What is the background to the current crisis?


The Taliban completed a swift takeover of Afghanistan after the United States and other Western countries ended their nearly 20-year missions there.

Despite the fact that western countries trained thousands of Afghan troops, they were unable to push back the Taliban fighters and many observers described a staggering failure.

For many, the current situation feels like a return to the starting point when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in 2001.

Here’s a look back at decades of war in Afghanistan.

1973: King overthrown in one coup

Afghanistan had been a monarchy led by Muhammad Zahir Shah since the 1930s. In 1973, however, Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup by his cousin Mohammad Daoud Khan.

Khan reportedly said the coup would replace the corrupt king with democracy and tried to distance Afghanistan from the Soviet Union.

1978: Civil war begins in Afghanistan

Daoud Khan was assassinated in a coup in 1978 when the Communist political party, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), assumed power in Afghanistan.

The coup became known as the Saur Revolution with communist party leader Nur Muhammad Taraki taking power.

The regime passed Marxist laws, including removing a dowry for women and allowing them to work, historians Elisabeth Armstrong and Vijay Prashad wrote.

But the communist government was also known for its violence, which included jailing and executing tens of thousands.

1979: The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.

The Red Army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979, airlifting troops into the country.

They installed Babrak Karmal, an exiled leader of one of the communist party factions in the country, to lead Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Carter administration in the United States had begun backing the Afghan mujaheddin, rebel fighters who fought against the Soviet Union. Much of the support for the mujaheddin was channeled through Pakistan.

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1988-89: Soviet forces withdraw

Guerrilla warfare and the Cold War power conflict between the Soviets and the Afghan mujaheddin ultimately led the Red Army to withdraw from the country in defeat.

The 1988 Geneva Accords It included a declaration for the United States and the Soviet Union to respect the independence and sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan and to refrain from interfering.

The Soviets continued to support the communist government in Afghanistan until 1992 as clashes between the government and the mujaheddin continued.

1992-1996: factions fight for power in Afghanistan

Fighting between the mujaheddin factions continued in Afghanistan after Najibullah, the Soviet-backed leader, resigned.

The United Nations tried unsuccessfully to find a solution to a situation complicated by external influence and civil war.

Thousands of people were estimated to have died in Kabul in 1994, many of whom were killed in rocket attacks.

“External forces saw the instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to push their own political and security agendas,” reads a document from the Georgetown University National Security Archive.

“Among them were terrorist groups such as Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network and states such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia and India. Pakistan, for example, saw an unstable Afghanistan as a boon for its internal security, allowing it a strategic depth against India “.

1996-2001: the Taliban take over Afghanistan

The Taliban, a radical group supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, took Kabul in September 1996.

Under the Taliban, women and girls were banned from school and work. They were not allowed to leave the house without a man or show their skin, according to Amnesty International. The penalties for breaking the strict rules were severe.

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They also allowed Al Qaeda and the Saudi radical Osama bin Laden to operate in Afghanistan. In response to three embassy bombings, the United States bombed three training bases used by bin Laden.

The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the Taliban in 1999, insisting that the group hand over Bin Laden. Those sanctions included an arms embargo beginning in 2000 after the Taliban failed to comply.

On September 9, 2001, anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by al-Qaeda in what many now see as a precursor to the attacks on New York and Washington.

2001

Almost 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, causing a dramatic turnaround in events.

US President George W. Bush said the search “is underway for those behind these evil acts.”

“We will not make any distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” A few days later, Bush authorized the use of force against those responsible for the attacks.

Airstrikes by US and British forces began on October 7, 2001 and consisted primarily of targeting the Taliban.

Finally, in December 2001 a new government is installed in Kabul with an international peacekeeping force to maintain security. The Taliban regime ended in December 2001 after the group fled Kandahar.

2001-2021

In 2002, President Bush of the United States called for a reconstruction similar to the Marshall Plan in Afghanistan; A transitional government under Hamid Karzai was instituted in the country and the first elections took place in 2004.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took over the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan on August 11, 2003, with the goal of providing security across the country. The force was originally in Kabul, but expanded across the country in 2006.

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It was meant to train Afghan forces to eventually take over security in the country.

US President Barack Obama stepped up the mission in 2009, stating that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, but that he planned to withdraw forces by 2011.

US forces in Pakistan killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, prompting a discussion about the continued military presence in Afghanistan. US President Obama said a month later that he planned to withdraw troops from the country..

Although he tried to withdraw troops by 2014, he said the security situation remained precarious and claimed that thousands of troops would remain in the country.

In 2020, the Trump administration signed a peace agreement with the Taliban that guarantees the withdrawal of US troops and a prisoner exchange, but the Afghan government said they were not part of the agreement.

Finally, in April 2021, the newly elected president of the United States, Joe Biden, announced a complete withdrawal of American forces for September 11. The Taliban insurgency subsequently escalated, leading to the country’s takeover in August.

The US-led war in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of at least 157,000 people, according to a 2019 report from Brown University. War Costs Project. The project estimates that 5.3 million people were internally displaced or upon leaving the country.

A report by the US Department of Defense in March 2021 estimated that the war and reconstruction cost the department $ 837.3 billion (€ 710.9 billion), with other estimates reaching nearly $ 1 trillion.


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