Afghanistan War, international conflict in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 that was triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. This shift reflected the greater need for U.S. troops and resources in Iraq, where sectarian warfare was reaching alarming levels. Omissions? Afghanistan had experienced several coups since 1973 when the Afghan monarchy was overthrown by Daud Khan, who was sympathetic to Soviet overtures. This long war … The longest conflict in American history is currently in a stalemate, with thousands of U.S. soldiers still bolstering the Afghan government and trying to weaken the Taliban's grip on the country. On the same day, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, President Bush announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” At that time, there were 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Updates? When ISAF did begin to venture beyond Kabul, its efforts were hampered by the “caveats” of its component countries—restrictions that kept all but a handful of the militaries from actively engaging in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Their war against each other devastated Kabul: tens of thousands of civilians lost their lives, and infrastructure was destroyed by rocket fire. Canada spent an estimated $18-billion fighting in Afghanistan and trying to reconstruct the country. Ph.D., Middle Eastern Studies, New York University, B.A., English Literature, Columbia University. Another source of money was Afghanistan’s resurgent opium industry. Pres. Al-Qaeda subsequently reestablished its base of operations in the tribal areas that form Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Afghanistan had been in a state of almost constant war for 20 years even before the US invaded. The conflict had its origins in the 1978 coup that overthrew Afghan president Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan, who had come to power by ousting the king in 1973. With al-Qaeda’s help, the Taliban won control of over 90 percent of Afghan territory by the summer of 2001. But the insurgent Taliban emerged in 2006 in force and begun using suicide tactics copied from jihadist groups elsewhere in the region. Pentagon officials were especially concerned that the United States not be drawn into a protracted occupation of Afghanistan, as had occurred with the Soviets more than two decades prior. How Did US Foreign Policy Change After 9/11? Afghan policemen destroying opium poppies during an eradication sweep in Orūzgān province, 2007. Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan and the Taliban’s spiritual home, fell on December 6, marking the end of Taliban power. In April 2002 Bush announced a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, promising substantial financial assistance. The second phase, from 2002 until 2008, was marked by a U.S. strategy of defeating the Taliban militarily and rebuilding core institutions of the Afghan state. Beginning in 2005, violence climbed as the Taliban reasserted its presence with new tactics modeled on those being used by insurgents in Iraq. 1980s: Osama bin Laden Recruits Arabs for Jihad in Afghanistan, 1996: Taliban Take Over Kabul, and End Mujahideen Rule, 2001: U.S. Airstrikes Topple Taliban Government, But Not Taliban Insurgency, American Involvement in Wars From Colonial Times to the Present, The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989, Profile of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Bin Laden's Declaration of War on the United States, 1996. The mujahideen battled the Soviets in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush Mountains. The September 11 attacks and the U.S.-British invasion, https://www.britannica.com/event/Afghanistan-War, Council on Foreign Relations - U.S. War in Afghanistan, The Canadian Encyclopedia - War in Afghanistan. U.S. Army soldiers on security duty in Paktīkā province, Afghanistan, 2010. The war has also taken a tremendous toll on citizens of the war-torn nation. Barack Obama’s 2009 decision to temporarily increase the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Read on to understand how the war began in, but not against, Afghanistan in 2001, and who the actors are now. In the aftermath of the attacks, the administration of U.S. Pres. On October 7, 2001, military strikes against Afghanistan were launched by the United States and an international coalition that included Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France. That choice was directed by the Pentagon, which insisted on a “light footprint” out of concern that Afghanistan would become a drag on U.S. resources as attention shifted to Iraq (see Iraq War). There were initial claims that the brief war had been successful. U.S. Special Forces working with members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, November 12, 2001. The United States relied primarily on the Northern Alliance, which had just lost Massoud but had regrouped under other commanders, including Tajik leader Mohammed Fahim and Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek. The case for leaving Afghanistan, the notorious "graveyard of empires," is relatively straightforward. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Afghanistan War, international conflict in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 that was triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. International pressure had forced the Taliban to curb poppy cultivation during their final year in power, but after their removal in 2001 the opium industry made a comeback, with revenues in some areas of the country benefiting the insurgency. The longest war in American history has gone on for more than 18 years. At least 21 pro-government forces and eight civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month. It was also during this period that bin Laden's ideology and goals, and the role of jihad within them, evolved. It had been besieged by a force led by Karzai that moved in from the north and one commanded by Gul Agha Sherzai that advanced from the south; both operated with heavy assistance from the United States. In the Soviets’ absence, the mujahideen ousted Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed government and established a transitional government. At 1 pm on the afternoon of the 7th, President Bush addressed the United States and the world: The Taliban were toppled shortly thereafter, and a government headed by Hamid Karzai installed. The joint U.S. and British invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 was preceded by over two decades of war in Afghanistan (see Afghan War). While an opponent of nation building in Afghanistan, President Trump in 2017 ordered the bombing of ISIL (ISIS) fighters in Iraq, dropping a massive bomb that killed 96 according to Al Jazeera and destroyed many tunnels and underground structures. [9] British forces invaded Afghanistan alongside the United States in October 2001. This, loosely, was the beginning of the network of roving jihadists that would become Al Qaeda later. Subsequent coups reflected struggles within Afghanistan among factions with different ideas about how Afghanistan should be governed and whether it should be communist, and with degrees of warmth toward the Soviet Union. The larger force was used to implement a strategy of protecting the population from Taliban attacks and supporting efforts to reintegrate insurgents into Afghan society. Because the Taliban's insurgency is so well financed, the Afghan government must spend enormous sums on war, too. (Indeed, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry made this criticism repeatedly during the 2004 general election campaign.) The attacks of September 11, 2001 surprised many Americans; the decision a month later to wage a war in Afghanistan, to end the ability of the government to offer safe haven to Al Qaeda, may have seemed equally surprising. During much of the war he, and Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Egyptian head of Islamic Jihad, an Egyptian group, lived in neighboring Pakistan. At War Afghan War Casualty Report: December 2020. The Americans also teamed with anti-Taliban Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan, including a little-known tribal leader named Hamid Karzai. The legendary fierceness of the mujahideen fighters, their stringent, extreme version of Islam and their cause drew interest and support from Arab Muslims seeking an opportunity to experience, and experiment with, waging jihad. But from the start, development efforts in Afghanistan were inadequately funded, as attention had turned among U.S. officials to the looming confrontation in Iraq. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. In order to forestall that possibility, the United States began funding insurgent forces to oppose the Soviets, The U.S.-funded Afghan insurgents were called mujahideen, an Arabic word that means "strugglers" or "strivers." The Taliban emerged and in 1996 seized Kabul. In early 2007, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund—the Taliban’s number three leader—was captured in Pakistan, and months later Mullah Dadullah—the Taliban’s top military commander—was killed in fighting with U.S. forces. With the ouster of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the international focus shifted to reconstruction and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. In 2011, Osama Bin Laden is killed in Pakistan during a nail-biting, mission in Pakistan. More than 20 other countries also lost troops during the war, though many—such as Germany and Italy—chose to focus their forces in the north and the west, where the insurgency was less potent. Later that year NATO took command of the war across the country; American officials said that the United States would play a lesser role and that the face of the war would become increasingly international. By the time the U.S. and NATO combat mission formally ended in December 2014, the 13-year Afghanistan War had become the longest war ever fought by the United States. In 2014, combat missions formally ended with the signing of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. Their extremely severe laws based on retrograde interpretations of the Quran, and a disregard for human rights, were repugnant to the world community. The United States attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan for hiding al-Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden. At its peak in 2009, there were around 100,000 Americans in Afghanistan, whose purpose was to weaken the Taliban and to help prop up Afghan institutions. Whereas early in the war the Taliban had focused on battling U.S. and NATO forces in open combat—a strategy that largely failed to inflict significant damage—their adoption of the use of suicide bombings and buried bombs, known as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), began to cause heavy casualties. For years, and under harsh conditions, … The war took the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers and wounded more than 1,800 others. The first phase—toppling the Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that ruled Afghanistan and provided sanctuary for al-Qaeda , perpetrators of the September 11 attacks)—was brief, lasting just two months. Top insurgent leaders remained at large, many of them in the tribal regions of Pakistan that adjoin Afghanistan. The word has its origins in Islam and is related to the word jihad, but in the context of the Afghan war, it may be best understood as referring to "resistance.". The U.S. war on Afghanistan is in its 19th year. It was on the ground and operating in Afghanistan just 15 days after the 2001 attacks, thus technically beginning the Afghanistan War. The war in Afghanistan will end, as the Vietnam War ended: in shame and abandonment. But the conflict in Afghanistan continues to rage, even after the recent launch of a fragile peace process between the Afghan state and the Taliban. One of the final major battles of the first phase of the war came in March 2002 with Operation Anaconda in the eastern province of Paktia, which involved U.S. and Afghan forces fighting some 800 al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. In 2003 NATO deployed troops to Afghanistan for a peace-keeping mission. The first democratic Afghan elections since the fall of the Taliban were held on October 9, 2004, with approximately 80 percent of registered voters turning out to give Karzai a full five-year term as president. The Soviets intervened following the overthrow of a pro-communist leader. The new approach largely failed to achieve its aims. The guerrilla war against the Soviet forces led to their departure in 1989. Eventually, the war in Afghanistan turned into a black hole that absorbed copious amounts of Soviet military, economic, and human resources. The U.S. War in Afghanistan. 01. of 09. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. The United States consistently represented the largest foreign force in Afghanistan, and it bore the heaviest losses. The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and has cost the U.S. $978 billion. As United States troops enter the 20th year in the war … The CIA team was soon joined by U.S. and British special forces contingents, and together they provided arms, equipment, and advice to the Afghans. President Obama approved adding more U.S. troops in order to bring the conflict to a resolution. The United States was, thus, deeply interested in whether the Soviet Union would succeed in establishing a communist government loyal to Moscow in Afghanistan. Omar and his top Taliban lieutenants settled in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, in the remote southwestern province of Balochistān. 1999 – 2020. 1  The George W. Bush administration launched the war in Afghanistan and the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. That same year, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was welcomed to Afghanistan (having been expelled from Sudan) and established his organization’s headquarters there. The CIA program of targeted killings was publicly denied by U.S. officials but was widely acknowledged in private. At first the attacks caused relatively few casualties, but as training and the availability of high-powered explosives increased, the death toll began to climb: in one particularly vicious attack in November 2007, at least 70 people—many of them children—were killed as a parliamentary delegation visited the northern town of Baghlan. These selections were made by a war movie expert and Afghanistan combat veteran who has lived through it. There, they cultivated Arab recruits to fight with the Afghan mujahideen. The War in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)-(2001-Present): The War in Afghanistan is the first major conflict of the 21st Century. This chaos, and the exhaustion of the Afghans, permitted the Taliban to gain power. Initially, the war appeared to have been won with relative ease. As the fighting dragged on and casualties escalated, the war lost popularity in many Western countries, creating domestic political pressure to keep troops out of harm’s way or to pull them out altogether. The U.S. and its NATO-led allies announced the official conclusion of their combat mission in Afghanistan … An intensive manhunt for Omar, bin Laden, and al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was undertaken. Cultivated by Pakistan, the Taliban emerged first in Kandahar, gained control of Kabul in 1996 and controlled most of the entire country by 1998. Panelists are Kathy Kelly, Matthew Hoh, Rory Fanning, Danny Sjursen, and Arash Azizzada. Prior to the killing of bin Laden by U.S. forces in 2011 (see below), the Americans were believed to have come closest to bin Laden in the December 2001 battle of Tora Bora (bin Laden’s mountain stronghold). At that time, the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in the Cold War, a global competition for the fealty of other nations. The campaign in Afghanistan started covertly on September 26, with a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) team known as Jawbreaker arriving in the country and, working with anti-Taliban allies, initiating a strategy for overthrowing the regime. Read on to understand how the war began in, but not against, Afghanistan in 2001, and who the actors are now. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. F rom 2009 to 2013, as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, I was the strategic commander for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. By 1989, the mujahideen had driven the Soviets from Afghanistan, and three years later, in 1992, they managed to wrest control of the government in Kabul from the Marxist president, Muhammad Najibullah. A peace accord would free up funds for basic services, economic development and more. This reality prompted the United States to begin targeting insurgent leaders who lived in Pakistan with missiles fired from remotely piloted drones. Early in the war in Afghanistan, a taxi driver was hired to drive some other Afghans across ​the country when the taxi was stopped by U.S. forces interested in the passengers. Parliamentary elections were staged a year later, with dozens of women claiming seats set aside for them to ensure gender diversity. Bush demanded that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar “deliver to [the] United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land,” and when Omar refused, U.S. officials began implementing a plan for war. Amy Zalman, Ph.D., is a global security expert and the CEO of Prescient, a management consulting firm that helps organizational leaders anticipate and manage critical global changes. As the Taliban leadership retreated into Afghanistan’s rural areas and across the border to Pakistan, anti-Taliban figures convened at a United Nations (UN)-sponsored conference in Bonn, Germany. The United States repeatedly threatened to expand its drone strikes beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas and into regions such as Balochistān if Pakistan did not demonstrate greater cooperation in battling the Taliban, a group it had long fostered. Karzai’s government was beset by corruption, and efforts to build a national army and a police force were troubled from the start by inadequate international support and ethnic differences between Afghans. Among those drawn to Afghanistan were a wealthy, ambitious, and pious young Saudi named Osama bin Laden and the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, Ayman Al Zawahiri. The mujahideen were organized into different political parties, and armed and supported by different countries, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as well as the United States, and they gained significantly in power and money during the course of the Afghan-Soviet war. Tens of thousands of Afghans are thought to have died since the U.S. helped topple the Taliban in 2001. Severe infighting among the mujahideen factions continued, however, under the presidency of mujahid leader Burhanuddin Rabbani. We had … Despite vast powers under the constitution, Karzai was widely regarded as a weak leader who grew increasingly isolated as the war progressed. With behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the United States, Karzai was selected to lead the country on an interim basis. In every war, there are war crimes and the films about them. On May 1, 2003, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced an end to “major combat” in Afghanistan. The strategy came coupled with a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan; beginning in 2011, security responsibilities would be gradually handed over to the Afghan military and police. The attack followed several weeks of a diplomatic effort to have al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, handed over by the Taliban government. Combat footage of U.S. Marines and U.S. Army Soldiers in Afghanistan. This is where their money comes from Scroll.in 18:03 15-Dec-20 Afghanistan still dealing with human cost of conflict as Australia debates war crimes ABC Online 18:04 15-Dec-20 The Taliban have grown megarich since the US invasion in 2001. By spring 2010 more than 1,000 U.S. troops had been killed in Afghanistan, while the British troops suffered some 300 deaths and the Canadians some 150. "The Kill Team" is a documentary about a kill team that existed within a small group of infantry soldiers in Afghanistan. He survived several assassination attempts—including a September 2004 rocket attack that nearly struck a helicopter he was riding in—and security concerns kept him largely confined to the presidential palace in Kabul. Between 2001 and 2009, just over $38 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan was appropriated by the U.S. Congress. Tensions remained and violence escalated, with 2008 the most deadly year since the invasion in 2001. The operation also marked the entrance of other countries’ troops into the war: special operations forces from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway participated. More than half the money went to training and equipping Afghan security forces, and the remainder represented a fraction of the amount that experts said would be required to develop a country that had consistently ranked near the bottom of global human development indices. Despite military commitments from dozens of U.S. allies, the United States initially argued against allowing the other foreign forces—operating as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)—to deploy beyond the Kabul area. The war in Afghanistan spanned the tenures of three prime ministers, and cost the lives of 453 British service personnel and thousands of Afghans. U.S. special operations forces conducting a mounted combat patrol in search of Taliban fighters in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 2007. U.S. officials hoped that by partnering with the Afghans they could avoid deploying a large force to Afghanistan. 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