Respectfully Dedicated to the Victims
9/11 – Section 19-3:
The War in Afghanistan
The Official Story
The War in Afghanistan was a conflict that took place from 2001 to 2021 in Afghanistan. It started when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate. The war ended with the Taliban regaining power after a 19 years and 8 months insurgency against allied NATO and Afghan Armed Forces. It was the longest war in United States history, surpassing the Vietnam War (1955–1975) by roughly five months.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, US president George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban, then-de facto ruling Afghanistan, hand over Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the attacks and until then freely operating within the country. The Taliban’s refusal to extradite him led to the invasion of their country; the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies were mostly defeated and expelled from major population centers by US-led forces and the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance had been fighting the Taliban since 1996.
Despite failing to find Bin Laden after his escape to the White Mountains, the US and a coalition of over 40 countries (including all NATO members) remained in the country and formed a UN sanctioned security mission called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to consolidate a new democratic authority in the country and prevent the return of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to power. At the Bonn Conference, new Afghan interim authorities (mostly from the Northern Alliance) elected Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan Interim Administration. A rebuilding effort across the country was also made following the repression of the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the Taliban reorganized under Mullah Omar and in 2003 launched an insurgency against the new Afghan government. Insurgents from the Taliban and other groups waged asymmetric warfare with guerrilla raids and ambushes in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets, turncoat killings against coalition forces and reprisals against perceived collaborators. The Taliban exploited weaknesses in the Afghan government to reassert influence across rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. Violence eventually escalated to a point where large parts of Afghanistan had been retaken by the Taliban by 2007. ISAF responded by massively increasing troops for counter-insurgency operations to “clear and hold” villages, reaching its peak in 2011 when roughly 140,000 foreign troops operated under ISAF and US command in Afghanistan.
Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 (the original casus belli), leaders of the NATO alliance commenced an exit strategy for withdrawing their forces On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and officially transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government. The NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day to assist in consolidating the newly transferred responsibilities.
Unable to eliminate the Taliban through military means, coalition forces and separately the government of president Ashraf Ghani turned to diplomacy to end the conflict. These efforts culminated on 29 February 2020, when the United States and the Taliban signed a conditional peace deal in Doha which required that US troops withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months so long as the Taliban cooperated with the terms of the agreement not to “allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including Al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”. The Afghan government was not a party to the deal and rejected its terms regarding release of prisoners.
The target U.S. withdrawal date was altered by president Joe Biden until a final date of 31 August was set. The Taliban, after the original deadline had expired, and coinciding with the troop withdrawal, launched a broad offensive throughout the summer in which they captured most of Afghanistan, finally taking Kabul on 15 August 2021. The same day, the president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban declared victory and the war over. The reestablishment of Taliban rule was confirmed by the United States and on 30 August the last American military plane departed Afghanistan, ending almost 20 years of western military presence in the country.
According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the war killed 176,000 people in Afghanistan; 46,319 civilians, 69,095 military and police and at least 52,893 opposition fighters.
According to the UN, after the 2001 invasion, more than 5.7 million former refugees returned to Afghanistan. However, since the renewed Taliban offensive of 2021, 2.6 million Afghans remain refugees or have fled, mostly to Pakistan and Iran, and another 4 million Afghans remain internally displaced persons within the country.
Source: Wikipedia (Note: fact check this source)
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