Order Code RL30588
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Afghanistan: Current Issues and
U.S. Policy Concerns
November 15, 2001
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Afghanistan: Current Issues and
U.S. Policy Concerns
Even before the U.S. military campaign against the Taliban movement began on
October 7, 2001, Afghanistan had been mired in conflict for about 22 years, including
the Soviet occupation during 1979-1989. The orthodox Islamic movement called the
Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan during 1996 until its withdrawal from Kabul in
November 2001. During that time, it was opposed only by the opposition Northern
Alliance, a coalition of minority ethnic groups. Following the September 11, 2001
terrorist attacks in the United States, the Taliban became almost completely isolated
internationally for its hosting of terrorist leader Osama bin Ladin and his Al Qaeda
organization, the prime suspect in those attacks. The U.S. military campaign against
the Taliban, coupled with U.S. support for the Northern Alliance, enabled the
opposition coalition to gain control of all of northern Afghanistan, including Kabul,
The rapid unraveling of the Taliban movement continued after its withdrawal
from Kabul. Independent commanders from the Pashtun ethnic group – Pashtuns are
the largest Afghan group constituting about 40% of the population – rebelled against
the Taliban in the Pashtun-dominated areas of the south and east and took control of
large swaths of territory in those areas. The collapse of the Taliban has enabled the
United States to send in special forces to southern Afghanistan to search for Taliban
and Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Ladin himself. Citizens in areas now under
opposition control, although wary of the Northern Alliance, are also enjoying new
personal freedoms that were forbidden under the Taliban.
Although the Northern Alliance has emerged as the dominant force in the
country, the United States, Pakistan, other countries, and the United Nations are
urging the Alliance to negotiate with Pashtun representatives, including those of the
former King Mohammad Zahir Shah, to form a broad-based government. The
Northern Alliance has not announced a new government, but there is concern that,
having captured Kabul, it will be unwilling to yield significant power to anti-Taliban
Pashtuns. Reflecting international interest in establishing a broad-based, stable
government, on November 14 the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1378
calling for a “central” U.N. role in establishing a transitional government. The
Resolution also encourages U.N. members states to ensure the safety and security of
areas no longer under Taliban control, presumably by sending forces to help keep
peace and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. The United
States also has pledged substantial aid to help Afghanistan reconstruct after more than
two decades of war.
Background to Recent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Rise of The Taliban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mullah Muhammad Umar/Taliban Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Coalescence of the Northern Alliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Balance of Forces and the Anti-Taliban War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Regional Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Central Asian States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Saudi Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
U.S. Policy Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Achieving Peace and Stability/U.N. Mediation/Post-Taliban
Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The “Six Plus Two” and Geneva Contact Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
King Zahir Shah and Loya Jirga Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Harboring of Osama Bin Ladin/Radical Islamic Fundamentalists . . . . . . . .
Human Rights/Treatment of Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Destruction of Buddha Statues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hindu Badges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Counternarcotics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Retrieval of U.S. Stingers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Landmine Eradication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alleviating Human Suffering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
U.S. Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Promoting Long-Term Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix: U.S. and International Sanctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Map of Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
List of Tables
Table 1. Major Factions in Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Table 2. U.S. Aid to Afghanistan in FY1999, 2000, and 2001
by Channel/Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan FY1978-1998 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Afghanistan: Current Issues and
U.S. Policy Concerns
Background to Recent Developments
Afghanistan became unstable in the 1970s as its Communist Party and its Islamic
parties grew in strength and in opposition to one another, polarizing the political
system. A Communist coup in 1978 overthrew the military regime of Mohammad
Daoud, who had overthrown his cousin, King Zahir Shah, in 1973. Zahir Shah, the
only surviving son of King Nadir Shah, had ruled Afghanistan since 1933. His rule
followed that of King Amanullah (1921-1929), who was considered a modernizer and
who presided over a government in which all ethnic minorities participated.
After taking power in 1978 upon the overthrow of Daoud, the Communists, first
under Amin Taraki and then under Hafizullah Amin (who overthrew Taraki in 1979)
attempted to impose radical socialist change on a traditional society, spurring
recruitment and backing for Islamic parties opposed to Communist ideology. The
Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979 , in part to prevent
a takeover by the Islamic-oriented militias that later became known as “mujahedin”1
(Islamic fighters) and thereby keep Afghanistan pro-Soviet. Upon their invasion, the
Soviets ousted Hafizullah Amin and installed Babrak Karmal as Afghan president.
After the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed mujahedin fought them
fiercely, and Soviet occupation forces were never able to pacify all areas of the
country. The Soviets occupied major cities, but the outlying mountainous regions
remained largely under mujahedin control. The mujahedin benefitted by hiding and
storing weaponry in a large network of natural and manmade tunnels and caves
throughout Afghanistan. The Soviet Union’s losses mounted, and domestic opinion
shifted against the war. In 1986, perhaps in an effort to signal some flexibility on a
possible political settlement, the Soviets replaced Babrak Karmal with the more
pliable former director of Afghan intelligence (Khad), Najibullah Ahmedzai (who went
by the name Najibullah or, on some occasions, the abbreviated Najib).
On April 14, 1988, the Soviet Union, led by reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev,
agreed to a U.N.-brokered accord (the Geneva Accords) requiring it to withdraw.
The Soviet Union completed the withdrawal on February 15, 1989, leaving in place
a weak Communist government facing a determined U.S. backed mujahedin. A
warming of superpower relations moved the United States and Soviet Union to try
for a political settlement to the internal conflict. From late 1989, the United States
pressed the Soviet Union to agree to a mutual cutoff of military aid to the combatants.
The failed August 1991 coup in the Soviet Union reduced Moscow’s capability for
The term refers to an Islamic guerrilla; literally “one who fights in the cause of Islam.”
and interest in supporting communist regimes in the Third World, leading Moscow
to agree with Washington on September 13, 1991, to a joint cutoff of military aid to
the Afghan combatants.
The State Department has said that a total of about $3 billion in economic and covert
military assistance was provided by the U.S. to Afghanistan from 1980 until the end
of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1989. Press reports and independent
experts believe the covert aid program grew from about $20 million per year in
FY1980 to about $300 million per year during fiscal years 1986 - 1990. Even before
the 1991 U.S.-Soviet agreement on Afghanistan, the Soviet withdrawal had decreased
the strategic and political value of Afghanistan and made the Administration and
Congress less forthcoming with funding. For FY1991, Congress reportedly cut
covert aid appropriations to the mujahedin from $300 million the previous year to
$250 million, with half the aid withheld until the second half of the fiscal year.
Although the intelligence authorization bill was not signed until late 1991, Congress
abided by the aid figures contained in the bill.2
With Soviet backing
withdrawn, on March 18, 1992,
Afghan President Najibullah
publicly agreed to step down
once an interim government was
formed. His announcement set
off a wave of regime defections,
primarily by Uzbek and Tajik
ethnic militias that had
previously been allied with the
Kabul government, including
that of Uzbek commander
Abdul Rashid Dostam (see
Pashtun 38%; Tajik 25%;
Uzbek 6%; Hazara 19%; others
Sunni Muslim 84%; Shiite
Muslim 15%; other 1%
Per Capita Income:
$280/yr (World Bank figure)
$5.5 billion (1996 est.)
fruits, nuts, carpets
Source: CIA World Factbook, 2000.
Joining with the defectors,
commander Ahmad Shah Masud
(of the Islamic Society, a largely Tajik party headed by Burhannudin Rabbani) sent his
fighters into Kabul, paving the way for the installation of a mujahedin regime on April
18, 1992. Masud, nicknamed “Lion of the Panjshir,” had earned a reputation as a
brilliant strategist by successfully fighting the Soviet occupation forces in his power
base in the Panjshir Valley of northeastern Afghanistan. Two days earlier, as the
mujahedin approached Kabul, Najibullah failed in an attempt to flee Afghanistan. He,
his brother, and a few aides remained at a U.N. facility in Kabul until the day in
September 1996 that the Taliban movement seized control of the city – Taliban
fighters entered the U.N. compound, captured Najibullah and his brother, and hanged
See “Country Fact Sheet: Afghanistan,” in U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Volume
5, No. 23, June 6, 1994. Page 377.
The victory over Najibullah brought the mujahedin parties to power in
Afghanistan but also exposed the serious differences among them. Under an
agreement among all the major mujahedin parties, Rabbani became President in June
1992, with the understanding that he would leave office in December 1994. His
refusal to step down at the end of that time period–on the grounds that political
authority would disintegrate in the absence of a clear successor–led many of the other
parties to accuse him of attempting to monopolize power. His government faced
daily shelling from another mujahedin commander, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, who was
nominally the Prime Minister. Hikmatyar, a radical Islamic fundamentalist who
headed a faction of Hizb-e-Islami (Islamic Party), was later ousted by the Taliban despite similar ideologies and Pashtun ethnicity - and he later fled to Iran. Two more
years of civil war among the mujahedin resulted, destroying much of Kabul and
creating popular support for the Taliban. In addition, the dominant Pashtun ethnic
group accused the Rabbani government of failing to represent all of Afghanistan’s
ethnic groups, and many Pashtun allied with the Taliban.
Table 1. Major Factions in Afghanistan
Areas of Control
Muhammad Umar Pashtun
Small enclaves in and
Kunduz in the north
(dominant party in the
Northern Alliance or
Rabbani (political Islamic, Tajik
Most of northern
Ismail Khan (allied with
Party) - Khalis
and areas of northern
Movement of Afghanistan Dostam
(part of United Front)
socialist, Uzbek Mazar Sharif and
environs, in coalition
with other Northern
(part of United Front)
The Rise of The Taliban
The Taliban movement was formed in 1993-1994 by Afghan Islamic clerics and
students, many of them former mujahedin who had moved into the western areas of
Pakistan to study in Islamic seminaries (“madrassas”). They are mostly ultraorthodox Sunni Muslims who practice a form of Islam, “Wahhabism” similar to that
practiced in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban are overwhelmingly ethnic Pashtuns (Pathans)
from rural areas of Afghanistan. Pashtuns constitute a plurality in Afghanistan,
accounting for about 38% of Afghanistan’s population of about 26 million. Taliban
leaders viewed the Rabbani government as corrupt and responsible for continued civil
war in Afghanistan and the deterioration of security in the major cities. With the help
of defections by sympathetic mujahedin fighters, the movement seized control of the
southeastern city of Qandahar in November 1994 and continued to gather strength.
The Taliban’s early successes encouraged further defections and, by February 1995,
it reached the gates of Kabul, after which an 18-month stalemate around the capital
ensued. In September 1995, the Taliban captured Herat province, on the border with
Iran, and expelled the pro-Iranian governor of the province, Ismail Khan. In
September 1996, a string of Taliban victories east of Kabul led Rabbani/Masud’s
outer defenses to crumble, and the government withdrew to the Panjshir Valley north
of Kabul with most of its heavy weapons intact. The Taliban took control of Kabul
on September 27, 1996.
The Taliban lost much of its international support as its policies unfolded.3 It
imposed strict adherence to Islamic customs in areas it controls, and used harsh
punishments, including executions, on transgressors. The Taliban regime established
a Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice, a force of police
officers to enforce its laws and moral rules.4 It banned television and popular music
and dancing, and required that male beards remain untrimmed. Immediately after
capturing Kabul, the Taliban curbed freedoms for women there, including their ability
to work outside the home (except in health care) and it closed schools for girls (see
below for further information).
Mullah Muhammad Umar/Taliban Leaders. The Taliban movement is led
by an inner Shura (consultation) council headed by a mujahedin fighter-turned
religious scholar named Muhammad Umar. During the war against the Soviet Union,
Mullah Umar fought in the Hizb-e-Islam (Islamic Party) mujahedin party led by Yunis
Khalis (who is now said to control Jalalabad following the collapse of the Taliban).
Mullah Umar held the title of Head of State and Commander of the Faithful. He lost
an eye during the anti-Soviet war, rarely appeared in public even before U.S. airstrikes
began, and did not take an active role in the day-to-day affairs of governing.
However, in times of crisis or to discuss pressing issues, he summoned Taliban leaders
to meet with him in Qandahar. Considered a hardliner within the Taliban regime,
See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000. Bureau
of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 2001. Available online through the State
Department’s web site at [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/sa].
Testimony of Zalmay Khalilzad, Director of RAND’s Strategy and Doctrine Program, before
the Subcommittee on Near East and South Asia of the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations. October 22, 1997.
Mullah Umar forged a close personal bond with bin Ladin and has been adamantly
opposed to handing him over to another country to face justice. Born near Qandahar,
Umar is about 49 years old. His ten year old son, as well as his stepfather, reportedly
died at the hands of U.S. airstrikes in early October. As of November 15, 2001, Umar
was reported still alive and vowing defiance of the United States, although he might
be losing control of remaining Taliban forces.
Coalescence of the Northern Alliance
The rise of the Taliban movement caused other power centers to make common
cause with ousted President Rabbani and his military chief, Ahmad Shah Masud. The
individual groups are allied in a “Northern Alliance” sometimes called the “United
Front,” headed by Rabbani and his party, the Islamic Society. The Islamic Society
itself is composed mostly of Tajiks, which constitute about 25% of the Afghan
population. Islamic Society adherents are also located in Persian-speaking western
Afghanistan near the Iranian border. These fighters in the west are generally loyal
to the charismatic former Herat governor Ismail Khan, who regained his former
stronghold after the Taliban collapse of mid-November.
One power center that is part of the Northern Alliance is Uzbek militia force
(the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan) of General Abdul Rashid Dostam.
Uzbeks constitute about 6% of the population. Dostam’s break with Najibullah in
early 1992 helped pave the way for the overthrow of the Communist regime. Prior
to the August 1998 capture of his bases in Mazar-e-Sharif and Shebergan, Dostam
commanded about 25,000 troops and significant amounts of armor and combat
aircraft. However, infighting within his faction left him unable to hold off Taliban
forces, and, until the Taliban collapse of mid-November, he controlled only small
areas of northern Afghanistan near the border with Uzbekistan. In November, he, in
concert with a Tajik commander Atta Mohammad and a Shiite Hazara commander
Mohammad Mohaqqiq, recaptured Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taliban.
Shiite Muslim parties, generally less active against the Soviet occupation than
were the Sunni parties, also are loosely allied with Rabbani. In June 1992, Iranianbacked Hizb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party, an alliance of eight Hazara tribe Shiite Muslim
groups), agreed to join the Rabbani regime in exchange for a share of power. Its
exact armed strength is unknown. Hizb-e-Wahdat receives some material support
from Iran. On September 13, 1998, Taliban forces captured the Hazara Shiite
stronghold of Bamiyan city, capital of Bamiyan province, raising fears in Iran and
elsewhere that Taliban forces would massacre Shiite civilians. This contributed to the
movement of Iran and the Taliban militia to the brink of armed conflict that month.
Since then, Hizb-e-Wahdat forces occasionally recaptured Bamiyan city, most recently
in February 2001, but were unable to hold it. They recaptured Bamiyan during the
Taliban collapse of mid-November.
Another mujahedin party leader Abd-i-Rab Rasul Sayyaf, heads a faction called
the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan. Sayyaf lived many years in and
is politically close to Saudi Arabia, which shares his puritanical interpretation of Sunni
Islam. This interpretation is also shared by the Taliban, which partly explains why
many of Sayyaf’s fighters defect to the Taliban movement. Sayyaf himself remained
allied with the Northern Alliance and has placed his remaining forces at Alliance
The political rivalries among opposition groups long hindered their ability to
shake the Taliban’s grip on power, even with the assistance of air strikes. Prior to the
beginning of the U.S. strikes, the opposition steadily lost ground, even in areas
outside Taliban’s Pashtun ethnic base, to the point that the Taliban controlled at least
75% of the country and almost all major provincial capitals.
The Northern Alliance suffered a major setback on September 9, 2001, when
Ahmad Shah Masud, the undisputed and charismatic military leader of the alliance,
was assassinated by suicide bombers at his headquarters. His successor is his
intelligence chief, Muhammad Fahim, a veteran commander but who is said to lack
the overarching authority of Masud. Other prominent Alliance commanders include
Bismillah Khan and Baba Jan, commanders of the front lines that faced the Taliban
north of Kabul, and General Atta Mohammad, who helped recapture Mazar Sharif
from the east. Other senior political officers in the Alliance include Dr. Abdullah
Abdullah, who is putative Foreign Minister, and Yunus Qanuni, who was Interior
Minister in the Rabbani government.
Balance of Forces and the Anti-Taliban War
In its drive to Kabul, the Taliban recruited about 30,000 troops. Numerous local
and tribally-based militias around Afghanistan allied themselves with the Taliban,
although many experts predicted these independent forces would defect if the Taliban
lost ground or began to unravel politically. Taliban ranks were boosted by about
10,000 fighters of bin Ladin’s Al Qaeda organization and pro-Taliban volunteers from
Pakistan. Prior to the beginning of U.S. air strikes on October 7, the movement
fielded a few hundred tanks, including Russian-made T-54's, T-55's, and T-62's. The
Taliban possessed about 125 multiple rocket launchers, a few hundred armored
personnel carriers, and some Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems (SA-2's,
SA-3's, SA-7's and SA-13's). The Taliban also had a few Russian-made Scud ballistic
missiles, which they have displayed in an August 2001 military parade. In addition,
the Taliban held many of the approximately 300 U.S.-made Stinger shoulder-held
anti-aircraft weapons left over from the war against the Soviet Union, although the
United States, as the manufacturer of that system, apparently knew how to evade or
disable it. Most of the Taliban’s approximately 20 MiG-21 and Su-22 combat
aircraft were destroyed by U.S. air strikes, according to U.S. military briefings.
The Northern Alliance began the October-November 2001 war with about
30,000 fighters. It also possessed unspecified numbers of the same types of Russianmade tanks, other armor, and helicopters that the Taliban fielded. Russia supplied
additional armor to the Alliance, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the United
States gave the Alliance ammunition and other support. Press reports in late
September indicated that President Bush had signed a finding authorizing the
provision of unspecified covert assistance to the Alliance.
The war effort intensified in late October with the U.S. insertion of special forces
not only to advise alliance commanders but also to assist in targeting U.S. airstrikes.
By November 10, the Taliban had been sufficiently weakened that the Northern
Alliance was able to capture Mazar-e-Sharif. This precipitated a general Taliban
collapse that allowed the Alliance to move into Kabul on November 12. The
unraveling of the Taliban then extended into the Pashtun areas of southern and eastern
Afghanistan, with several provinces falling under the control of independent Pashtun
commanders and former mujahedin leaders. As of November 15, the Taliban still held
most of its stronghold of Qandahar, and a few enclaves in the north. The apparent
defeat enabled the United States to announce on November 14 that U.S. special
forces were now operating in southern Afghanistan to search for Taliban and Al
Qaeda leaders, including bin Ladin.
Regional Context 5
Even before September 11, the Taliban’s policies made several of Afghanistan’s
neighbors increasingly concerned about threats to their own security interests
emanating from that country. Russia and some of Afghanistan’s Central Asian
neighbors assert that the Taliban is hosting not only bin Ladin but several radical
Islamic organizations opposing Russia and the Central Asian states. A regional
grouping has formed around the issue of Islamic radicalism emanating from
Afghanistan – the Shanghai Cooperation Forum groups China, Russia, Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Saudi Arabia, which has had close ties to
some Afghan factions and practices the same orthodox brand of Islam (Wahhabism)
as the Taliban, is also covered in this section.
Pakistan, which hosted 1.2 million Afghan refugees before U.S. air strikes began
and now hosts tens of thousands more, was the most public defender of the Taliban
movement and was one of only three countries (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates are the others) to formally recognize it as the legitimate government.
Pakistan has always sought an Afghan central government strong enough to prevent
calls for unity between ethnic Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while at the same
time sufficiently friendly and pliable to give Pakistan strategic depth against rival
India. In the wake of the Soviet pullout, Pakistan was also troubled by continued
political infighting in Afghanistan that was enabling drug trafficking to flourish and
to which Afghan refugees did not want to return. Pakistan also began to see
Afghanistan as essential to opening up trade relations and energy routes with the
Muslim states of the former Soviet Union . Pakistan believed the Taliban movement
had the potential to fulfill these goals, and it helped the movement gain power.
The government of General Pervez Musharraf, who took power in an October
1999 coup – a coup inspired in part by events in Kashmir – previously resisted U.S.
For further information, see CRS Report RS20411, Afghanistan: Connections to Islamic
Movements in Central and South Asia and Southern Russia. December 7, 1999, by Kenneth
For further discussion, see Rashid, Ahmed. “The Taliban: Exporting Extremism.” Foreign
Affairs, November - December 1999.
pressure to forcefully intercede with the Taliban leadership to achieve bin Ladin’s
extradition. Pakistan’s links to the Taliban were a major focus of a visit to Pakistan
by Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering in May 2000, although Pakistan made
no commitments to help the United States on bin Ladin. U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1333, of December 19, 2000, was partly an effort by the United States and
Russia to drive a wedge between the Taliban and Pakistan and to persuade Pakistan
to cease military advice and aid to the Taliban. Although Pakistan did not cease
military assistance, it tried to abide by some provisions of the resolution. Pakistan did
order the Taliban to cut the staff at its embassy in Pakistan. 7 Prior to the September
11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Pakistan had said it would cooperate with a
follow-on U.N. Security Council Resolution (1363 of July 30, 2001) that provided for
U.N. border monitors to ensure that no neighboring state was providing military
equipment or advice to the Taliban.
Pakistan’s tentative steps toward cooperation reflected increasing wariness that
the Taliban movement was radicalizing existing Islamic movements inside Pakistan.
Pakistan also feared that its position on the Taliban was propelling the United States
into a closer relationship with Pakistan’s arch-rival, India. Some Islamic movements
in Pakistan were seeking to emulate the Taliban, according to press reports . Pakistani
terrorist groups, such as the Harakat al-Mujahedin (HUM), 8 are allied with the
Taliban and bin Ladin, according to the State Department’s report on international
terrorism for 2000 (“Patterns of Global Terrorism, 2000"). HUM and other Pakistani
Islamist groups are seeking to challenge India’s control over its portion of Kashmir
and, according to some observers, could drag Pakistan into a war with India over
Kashmir. HUM leaders have signed some of bin Ladin’s anti-U.S. pronouncements
and some HUM fighters were killed in the August 20, 1998 U.S. missile strikes on
bin Ladin camps in Afghanistan, according to Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2000.
These considerations, coupled with U.S. pressure as well as offers of economic
benefit, prompted Pakistan to cooperate with the U.S. response to the September 11
attacks. Pakistan has provided the United States with requested access to Pakistani
airspace, ports, airfields. The U.S. military presence in Pakistan placed the
government under increased political threat from pro-Taliban Islamist groups in
Pakistan that sympathize with the Taliban and bin Ladin, although the collapse of the
Taliban might alleviate that pressure. In return for Pakistan’s cooperation, the
Administration, in some cases with new congressional authority enacted after
September 11, has waived most of the U.S. sanctions on Pakistan and has begun
providing foreign aid that will total about $1 billion, according to U.S.
At the same time, Pakistan has sought to protect its interests by fashioning a
Pashtun-based component for a post-Taliban government. Pakistan has wanted that
Constable, Pamela. New Sanctions Strain Taliban-Pakistan Ties. Washington Post, January
The State Department has designated HUM as a foreign terrorist organization.
For more information on U.S. sanctions on Pakistan, see CRS Report RS20995, India and
Pakistan: Current U.S. Economic Sanctions. Dianne E. Rennack.
component to consist of moderate Taliban members, independent Pashtun
commanders, and/or Pashtuns loyal to the former King Zahir Shah. Wary that the
Northern Alliance will use its capture of Kabul to dominate a new government,
Pakistan has criticized the Northern Alliance capture of Kabul and has urged it not to
set up a new government on its own. It has moved some troops to the Afghan
Iran’s key national interests in Afghanistan are to exert influence over western
Afghanistan, which Iran borders, and to protect the Shiite minority. Iran strongly
supports the Northern Alliance and its Tajik (Persian-speaking) leaders. Rabbani’s
Islamic Society party has traditionally been strong in western Afghanistan as well as
in its stronghold in the Panjshir Valley, which borders Tajikistan. Since Taliban forces
ousted a pro-Rabbani governor, Ismail Khan, from Herat (the western province that
borders Iran) in September 1995, Iran has seen the Taliban movement as a threat to
all its interests in Afghanistan. Iran has provided fuel, funds, and ammunition to the
Northern Alliance.10 Iran also hosted fighters loyal to Ismail Khan , who was captured
by the Taliban in 1998 but escaped and fled to Iran in March 2000 and has since
returned to Afghanistan and has now recaptured Herat. Khan’s nickname is the “Lion
of Herat,” a reference to his fighting tenacity during the war against the Soviet Union.
Iran has nearly come to open military hostilities with the Taliban. In September
1998, Iranian and Taliban forces nearly came into direct conflict when Iran discovered
that nine of its diplomats were killed in the course of Taliban’s offensive in northern
Afghanistan. Iran massed forces at the border and threatened military action. Taliban
rebuffed Iran’s demands to extradite to Iran those responsible for the killing of the
Iranian diplomats, but it returned their bodies to Iran and sought direct talks with Iran,
leading to a cooling of the crisis. Iran still accuses the Taliban leadership of failing to
punish those responsible for the killing of Iranian diplomats, but Iran reopened its
border with Afghanistan in November 1999 in an effort to ease tensions.
The United States and Iran have long had common positions on Afghanistan,
despite deep U.S.-Iran differences on other issues. U.S. officials have long
acknowledged working with Tehran, under the auspices of the Six Plus Two contact
group and Geneva group (see below). Secretary of State Powell shook hands with
Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on November 12 during a Six Plus Two
meeting on prospects for a new government in Afghanistan.
U.S. and Iranian common interests on Afghanistan might explain why Iran has
generally expressed support for the U.S. effort to forge a global coalition against
terrorism, although it has publicly opposed U.S. military action against Afghanistan.
Iran has confirmed that it has offered search and rescue assistance in Afghanistan
should the United States need it, and it has also agreed to allow U.S. humanitarian aid
to the Afghan people to transit Iran. However, the United States and Iran are too far
apart in general for tacit cooperation on Afghanistan to lead to a dramatic
Steele, Jonathon, “America Includes Iran In Talks On Ending War In Afghanistan.”
Washington Times, December 15, 1997. A14.
breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations. Some Iranian leaders have been harshly critical
of U.S. military action against the Taliban; in late September Supreme Leader Ali
Khamene’i compared that action to the September 11 terrorist attacks themselves.
About 1. 4 million Afghan refugees are still in Iran; most of these have been
permitted to integrate into Iranian society. 11 In mid-1994, Iran reportedly began
forcing Afghan refugees to leave Iran and return home, although Iran denies it has
forcibly repatriated any Afghans and some repatriation reportedly is voluntary. After
the September 11 terrorist attacks, Iran closed its border with Afghanistan to prevent
a flood of new refugees into Iran.
A number of considerations might explain why Russia has been generally
supportive of U.S. efforts to build an international coalition against the perpetrators
of the September 11 attacks and the states that support them. Russia’s main objective
in Afghanistan is to prevent the further strengthening of Islamic movements in the
Central Asian states or Islamic enclaves in Russia itself. For Russian leaders,
instability in Afghanistan also reminds the Russian public that the Soviet occupation
of Afghanistan failed to pacify or stabilize that country.
Russia’s fear became acute following an August 1999 incursion into Russia’s
Dagestan region by Islamic guerrillas from neighboring Chechnya. Some reports link
at least one faction of the guerrillas to bin Ladin. 12 This faction is led by a Chechen
of Arab origin who is referred to by the name “Hattab” (full name is Ibn al-Khattab).
In January 2000, the Taliban became the only government in the world to recognize
Chechnya’s independence, and some Chechen fighters integrated into Taliban forces
were captured or killed during the October - November 2001 war.
The U.S. and Russian positions on Afghanistan became coincident well before
the September 11 attacks. 13 Even before the October-November war, Russia was
supporting the Northern Alliance with some military equipment and technical
assistance. 14 U.S.-Russian cooperation led to the passage of U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1267 on October 15, 1999. That resolution, adopted in response to the
Taliban’s harboring of bin Ladin, banned commercial flights by the Afghan national
airline and directed U.N. member states to freeze Taliban assets abroad (see section
on Sanctions, below). When the Taliban repeatedly refused to turn over bin Ladin,
the two co-sponsored a follow-on – Security Council Resolution 1333 – that banned
arms sales and military advice to the Taliban, among other provisions, but did not ban
Crossette, Barbara, “U.S. and Iran Cooperating on Ways to End the Afghan War.” New
York Times, December 15, 1997.
Whittell, Giles. “Bin Laden Link To Dagestan Rebel Fightback.” London Times, September
Constable, Pamela. “Russia, U.S. Converge on Warnings to Taliban.” Washington Post,
June 4, 2000.
Risen, James. “Russians Are Back in Afghanistan, Aiding Rebels.” New York Times, July
such aid to the Northern Alliance or other opposition factions. Russia is opposed to
allowing any Taliban members to become part of a post-Taliban government.
On the other hand, the United States has not blindly supported Russia’s apparent
attempts to place a large share of the blame for the rebellion in Chechnya on the
Taliban and bin Ladin. The Clinton Administration did not endorse Russian threats,
issued by President Vladimir Putin in May 2000, to conduct airstrikes against training
camps in Afghanistan that Russia alleges are for Chechen rebels. President Bush has
been highly critical of Russian tactics in Chechnya, although that position has
softened substantially since September 11, apparently in exchange for Russia’s
support for the U.S. anti-terrorism effort. Some outside experts believe that Russia
is exaggerating the threat emanating from Afghanistan in an effort to persuade the
Central Asian states to rebuild closer defense ties to Moscow.
Central Asian States 15
Former Communist elites still in power in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan
have grown increasingly concerned that Central Asian radical Islamic movements are
receiving safe haven in Afghanistan. Of these four, the two that border Afghanistan
– Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – see themselves as particularly vulnerable to militants
harbored by the Taliban. Uzbekistan saw its ally, Abdul Rashid Dostam, the Uzbek
commander in northern Afghanistan, lose most of his influence in 1998, although he
has now regained power in Mazar-e-Sharif. Uzbek officials say that Dostam was so
ineffective a commander that no amount of Uzbek support would have kept his militia
viable against a determined Taliban assault.16
Uzbekistan asserts that the group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU),
allegedly responsible for four simultaneous February 1999 bombings in Tashkent that
nearly killed President Islam Karimov, is linked to bin Ladin.17 One of its leaders,
Juma Namangani, reportedly was commanding Taliban/Al Qaeda forces in the battle
for Mazar-e-Sharif in November 2001. Uzbekistan’s fears of continuing Afghan
instability contributed to its decision in 1999 to engage the Taliban diplomatically and
to host a July 1999 meeting of the Six Plus Two grouping in which representatives
of the warring Afghan factions participated. Uzbekistan has been highly supportive
of the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks and has placed military
facilities at U.S. disposal for use in the combat against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
About 1,000 U.S. troops from the 10th Mountain Division, as well as U.S. aircraft, are
reportedly based there. Now that the Taliban no longer control the other side of the
Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border (the two are connected by the lightly guarded
“Friendship Bridge” over the Amu Darya river), Uzbekistan is allowing humanitarian
aid to flow, by barge for now, into Afghanistan. It may open the bridge once stability
For further information, see CRS Report RL30294. Central Asia’s Security: Issues and
Implications for U.S. Interests. December 7, 1999.
CRS conversations with Uzbek government officials in Tashkent. April 1999.
The IMU was named a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in September
Over the past few years, Tajikistan has feared that its buffer with Afghanistan
would disappear if the Taliban defeated the Northern Alliance, whose territorial base
borders Tajikistan. Some of the IMU members based in Afghanistan fought alongside
the Islamic opposition United Tajik Opposition (UTO) during the 1994-1997 civil war
in that country. On May 24, 2000, a U.N. Special Representative to Tajikistan
appeared to support Tajikistan’s concerns by saying that continued instability in
Afghanistan threatened a fragile 3-year old peace process for Tajikistan. Tajikistan,
heavily influenced by Russia, whose 25,000 troops guards the border with
Afghanistan, initially sent mixed signals on the question of whether it would give the
United States the use of military facilities in Tajikistan. However, on September 26,
2001, Moscow officially endorsed the use by the United States of military facilities in
Tajikistan, paving the way for Tajikistan to open facilities for U.S. use. In early
November, following a visit by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Tajikistan agreed to
allow the U.S. the use of three air bases in that country.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not directly border Afghanistan. However, IMU
guerrillas have transited Kyrgyzstan during past incursions into Uzbekistan. 18
Kazakhstan had begun to diplomatically engage the Taliban over the past year, but
it publicly supported the U.S. war effort against the Taliban.
Of the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, only Turkmenistan was not
alarmed at Taliban gains and had chosen to seek close relations with the Taliban
leadership. An alternate interpretation is that Turkmenistan viewed engagement with
the Taliban as a more effective means of preventing spillover of radical Islamic
activity from Afghanistan. Turkmenistan played a key role in brokering reconciliation
talks between the warring factions in early 1999, talks that were perceived as
attempting to persuade the Northern Alliance to accede to Taliban domination of
Afghanistan. Turkmenistan’s leadership also saw Taliban control as bringing the
peace and stability that would permit construction of a natural gas pipeline from
Turkmenistan through Afghanistan. That pipeline would help Turkmenistan bring its
large gas reserves to world markets. However, the September 11 events stoked
Turkmenistan’s fears of the Taliban and its Al Qaeda guests and the country is
supporting the U.S. anti-terrorism effort. There are no indications the United States
has requested basing rights in Turkmenistan.
China has a small border with a sliver of Afghanistan known as the “Wakhan
corridor” (see map) and had become increasingly concerned about the potential for
the Taliban or bin Ladin to promote Islamic fundamentalism among Muslims
(Uighurs) in northwestern China. China has expressed its concern through active
membership in a regional grouping called the “Shanghai Five.” The organization has
stepped up its security coordination activities over the past two years in response to
increasing Islamic activism in Central Asia and the perceived Taliban threat. The
Shanghai Five groups China with Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. In
June 2001, the group was expanded to include Uzbekistan, and the name of the
organization was changed to the Shanghai Cooperation Forum. In December 2000,
Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999, pp. 14, 92.
sensing China’s increasing concern about Taliban policies, a Chinese official
delegation met with Mullah Umar at the Taliban’s invitation.
Although it has been concerned about the threat from the Taliban and bin Ladin,
China did not immediately support U.S. military action against the Taliban. Many
experts believe this is because China, as a result of strategic considerations, was wary
of a U.S. military buildup on its doorstep. China is an ally with Pakistan, in part to
balance out India, which China sees as a rival. Pakistani cooperation with the United
States appears to have allayed China’s opposition to U.S. military action, and
President Bush praised China’s cooperation with the anti-terrorism effort during his
visit to China in October 2001.
During the Soviet occupation, Saudi Arabia channeled hundreds of millions of
dollars to the Afghan resistance, and particularly to hardline Sunni Muslim
fundamentalist resistance leaders. Saudi Arabia, which itself practices the strict
Wahhabi brand of Islam practiced by the Taliban, was one of three countries to
formally recognize the Taliban government. (The others are Pakistan and the United
Arab Emirates.) The Taliban initially served Saudi Arabia as a potential counter to
Iran, with which Saudi Arabia has been at odds since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
However, Iranian-Saudi relations have improved significantly since 1997, and
balancing Iranian power has ebbed as a factor motivating Saudi policy toward
Afghanistan. Instead, drawing on its intelligence ties to Afghanistan during the antiSoviet war, Saudi Arabia has worked in parallel with the United States to try to
persuade Taliban leaders to suppress anti-Saudi activities by Osama bin Ladin. Some
press reports indicate that, in late 1998, Saudi and Taliban leaders discussed, but did
not agree on, a plan for a panel of Saudi and Afghan Islamic scholars to decide bin
Ladin’s fate. In March 2000 and again in May 2000, the Saudi-based Organization
of Islamic Conference (OIC) sponsored indirect peace talks in Saudi Arabia between
the warring factions. However, the two sides reached only minor agreements to
exchange prisoners, according to press reports.
Saudi Arabia has offered the United States full cooperation with any effort to
bring the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks to justice. Along with the UAE,
Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban in late September. It is not
yet clear that the United States asked to use bases in Saudi Arabia, already being used
to contain Iraq, for the effort against bin Ladin or the Taliban. The Saudi position has
generally been to allow the United States the use of its facilities as long as doing so
is not publicly requested or highly publicized.
U.S. Policy Issues
U.S. policy objectives in Afghanistan have been multifaceted, although the
September 11 attacks have apparently narrowed U.S. goals to ending the presence
of the leadership of the bin Ladin network there and to helping construct a future
Afghanistan where such groups would not be welcome. Since the Soviet withdrawal,
returning peace and stability to Afghanistan has been a U.S. goal, pursued with
varying degrees of intensity. Other goals have included an end to discrimination
against women and girls, the eradication of narcotics production, and alleviating
severe humanitarian difficulties.
The United States attributed most of these concerns to Taliban rule, although
drug production flourished under Rabbani’s 1992-1996 government. U.S. relations
with the Taliban progressively deteriorated over the 5 years that the Taliban were in
power in Kabul. The United States withheld recognition of Taliban as the legitimate
government of Afghanistan and formally recognized no faction as the government,
although it has had a dialogue with all the different factions, including the Taliban.
The United Nations, based on the lack of broad international recognition of Taliban,
continued to allow representatives of the former Rabbani government to occupy
Afghanistan’s seat at the United Nations. The United States closed its embassy in
Kabul in January 1989, and the State Department ordered the Afghan embassy in
Washington, D.C. closed in August 1997 because of a power struggle within the
embassy between Rabbani and Taliban supporters.
The Bush Administration initially continued the previous Administration’s policy
of maintaining a dialogue with the Taliban. During the Clinton Administration,
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth and other U.S.
officials met periodically with Taliban officials. In April 1998, then Ambassador Bill
Richardson met with Taliban officials and the opposition during his visit to
Afghanistan, in an effort to demonstrate presidential commitment to peace in
Afghanistan and to discuss bin Ladin (see below). In compliance with U.N. Security
Council Resolution 1333, in February 2001 the State Department ordered the closing
of a Taliban representative office in New York. The Taliban complied with the
directive, but its representative, Abdul Hakim Mujahid, continued to operate
informally. In March 2001, Bush Administration officials received a Taliban envoy,
Rahmatullah Hashemi, to discuss bilateral issues. Three State Department officers
visited Afghanistan in April 2001, the first U.S. visit since the August 1998 bombings
of Afghan camps, although the visit was primarily to assess humanitarian needs and
not to conduct U.S.-Taliban relations.
As did the executive branch, Congress had become increasingly critical of the
Taliban, even before the September 11 attacks. Congress’ views have generally been
expressed in non-binding legislation. A sense of the Senate resolution (S.Res. 275)
that resolving the Afghan civil war should be a top U.S. priority passed that chamber
by unanimous consent on September 24, 1996. H.Con.Res. 218, which was similar
to this resolution, passed the House on April 28, 1998. In the 107th Congress,
H.Con.Res. 26 was introduced on February 8, 2001. The resolution expresses the
sense of Congress that the United States should seek to prevent the Taliban from
obtaining Afghanistan’s U.N. seat and should not recognize any government in
Afghanistan that does not restore women’s rights. Despite the criticism, some
Members engaged in direct talks with the Taliban.
Since September 11, legislative proposals on Afghanistan appear to have become
even more adversarial toward the Taliban. One bill, H.R. 3088, states that it should
be the policy of the United States to remove the Taliban from power and authorizes
a drawdown of up to $300 million worth of U.S. military supplies and services for the
anti-Taliban opposition. The bill, as well as another bill (H.R. 2998, introduced
October 2, 2001), would establish a “Radio Free Afghanistan” broadcasting service
under RFE/RL and fund it with $14 million for FY2002 and FY2003, collectively.
That bill was passed by the House on November 7, 2001, by a vote of 405-2.
Achieving Peace and Stability/U.N. Mediation/Post-Taliban
Sensitive to criticism that it had foresaken Afghanistan after the Soviet
withdrawal, the United States has consistently, although with varying intensity,
supported U.N. efforts to bring about a peaceful transition of power. The United
States worked primarily through the United Nations because the international body
is viewed as a credible mediator by all sides. It was the forum used for ending the
Soviet occupation. Since the fall of Najibullah, a succession of U.N. mediators –
former Tunisian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Mestiri, (March 1994-July 1996);
German diplomat Norbert Holl (July 1996-December 1997); and Algeria’s former
Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi (August 1997-October 1999) – have sought to
arrange a ceasefire, and ultimately a peaceful transition to a broad-based government.
The proposed process for arranging a transition incorporated many ideas advanced
by former King Zahir Shah and other experts, in which a permanent government is to
be chosen through a traditional Afghan selection process, such as a loya jirga, a grand
assembly of notable Afghans.
The efforts of previous U.N. mediators, at times, appeared to make significant
progress, but ceasefires and other agreements between the warring factions have
always broken down over conflicting demands. Signs of a potential breakthrough last
appeared in July 1999, when a meeting was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There, for
the first time, a Taliban delegation participated in a broad dialogue in which a
Northern Alliance delegation participated. Although the outside parties rededicated
themselves at Tashkent not to arm the warring factions, the meeting did not narrow
intra-Afghan differences and fighting broke out one week later. Brahimi suspended
his activities in frustration in October 1999.
The successor to Brahimi as U.N. mediator (head of the “U.N. Special Mission
For Afghanistan,”or UNSMA) was long-time U.N. diplomat (of Spanish origin)
Francesc Vendrell, who was appointed in January 2000. Vendrell tried to pick up
where his predecessors left off. He established UNSMA offices in several major
Afghan cities, believing that a constant presence in Afghanistan itself could better
advance the peace process. Since his appointment, he has met with the governments
participating in the Six Plus Two process (see below) as well as the leaders of the
individual Afghan factions.19 He has also met with Afghan exile groupings that are
seeking to advance an Afghan peace process from the outside, as discussed below.
The September 11 attacks and the start of U.S. military action against the
Taliban has injected new urgency into the search for a government that might replace
Report of the U.N. Secretary General to the General Assembly and the Security Council.
A/54/791, S/2000/205, March 10, 2000; The Situation in Afghanistan and Its Implications
for International Peace and Security. Report of the Secretary-General. A/55/907,
S/2001/384, April 19, 2001.
the Taliban. In late September, Lakhdar Brahimi was brought back as the U.N. point
person to help arrange an alternative government to the Taliban. The State
Department appointed Policy Planning Director Richard Haass to be the U.S. liaison
with Brahimi and to assist in the search for an alternative regime that might hasten the
demise of the Taliban and keep order in the event the Taliban collapses. A U.S. envoy
to the Northern Alliance, Ambassador James Dobbins, was appointed in early
November 2001. On November 14, 2001, the U.N. Security Council adopted
Resolution 1378, calling for a “central” U.N. role in establishing a transitional
administration and inviting member states to send peacekeeping forces to promote
stability and secure the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The “Six Plus Two” and Geneva Contact Groups. Reflecting the
common concerns about Afghan-inspired regional instability, the “Six Plus Two”
contact group (the United States, Russia, and the six states bordering Afghanistan –
Iran, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan), has been meeting
under U.N. auspices since early 1997 to discuss ways of bringing peace to
Afghanistan. The Six Plus Two process was inaugurated after several informal
meetings of some of the key outside parties in which the United States and others
agreed not to provide weapons to the warring factions. (In June 1996, the
Administration formally imposed a ban on U.S. sales of arms to all factions in
Afghanistan, a policy already in force informally.20)
In 2000, possibly because of the lack of progress in the Six Plus Two process,
another contact group began meeting in Geneva, and with more frequency than the
Six Plus Two. The Geneva grouping includes Italy, Germany, Iran, and the United
States. Another Afghan-related grouping multilateral mediating grouping consists of
some Islamic countries operating under the an ad-hoc “Committee on Afghanistan
under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The countries
in that ad-hoc committee include Pakistan, Iran, Guinea, and Tunisia.
King Zahir Shah and Loya Jirga Processes. The United States has
supported initiatives coming from parties inside Afghanistan. During 1997, Afghans
not linked to any of the warring factions began a new peace initiative called the Intra
Afghan Dialogue. This grouping, consisting of former mujahedin commanders and
clan leaders, held meetings during 1997 and 1998 in Bonn, Frankfurt, Istanbul, and
Ankara (“Bonn Process”). Another group based on the participation of former King
Zahir Shah, was centered in Rome, where the former King is based. It began its
activities in June 1999 (“Rome Process”).21 Members of the Rome Process visited
Washington in May 2000 and received a formal statement of U.S. support.22 In
Federal Register, Volume 61, No. 125, June 27, 1996. Page 33313.
In late 1992, Zahir Shah, who is now about 84 years old, promoted a peace plan similar to
that being advanced by the United Nations. Some anti-Taliban factions, such as the National
Islamic Front of Afghanistan, support the return of the King, who lives in Rome, because his
rule is remembered by many Afghans as an era of peace, stability, and respect for human
rights. Others believe the King is too far removed from modern Afghan politics and that his
rule failed to prevent the growth of the Communist Party in Afghanistan.
Text: “U.S. Officials Meet With Afghan Citizens Representing Rome Process.” Washington
December 2000, members of the Rome Process held a meeting under the auspices of
the House International Relations Committee. The meeting followed passage on
October 24, 2000, by the Senate and House, of S.Con.Res.150 and H.Con.Res. 414,
respectively. The resolution expressed congressional support for King Zahir Shah’s
efforts to convene a loya jirga and establish a peaceful and representative government
in Afghanistan. The Rome Process also initiated some contact with both the Northern
Alliance and the Taliban. On September 19, 2001, Zahir Shah issued a statement to
the Afghan people calling on them to oppose the harboring of Arab extremists linked
to bin Ladin. A third grouping, calling itself the “Cyprus Process,” consists of former
Afghan officials and other Afghan exiles.
Some of the hopes for a post-Taliban government appear to center on the King.
Members of Congress and U.S. and U.N. officials have recently visited him in Rome
in the course of discussing a new government. Pakistan has said it would accept a
new government of which the King was titular leader. A two-day (October 25-26)
meeting of more than 700 Afghan tribal elders in Peshawar, Pakistan, issued a
concluding statement calling for the return of the former King. However, even
though the gathering was supportive of the former King, neither the King’s
representatives nor those of the Northern Alliance actually attended the gathering
because of their suspicions that the meeting was orchestrated by Pakistan for its own
Another gathering was expected to take place in Istanbul on October 30, 2001,
to be attended by the King’s representatives. The gathering was to focus on
implementing an agreement between the King and the Northern Alliance, reached in
early October, to form a 120-person “Supreme Council for the National Unity of
Afghanistan,” of which 50 seats go to the King’s faction, 50 seats go to the Alliance,
and twenty are reserved for mutually agreed delegates or defecting Taliban
personalities. Under the King-Northern Alliance plan, the 120-person Council is to
choose a 10- to 15-person committee that would function as a provisional government
in exile until the Taliban is overthrown. Secretary of State Powell has said the United
States wants to “gel” the Peshawar effort with the Istanbul effort into a unified
movement toward an alternative government. The Administration told Congress on
October 26, 2001, that it intends to spend up to $400,000 in FY2001 Economic
Support Funds to support NGO’s promoting the development of a broad-based
Battlefield developments might have clouded the picture of a new government.
The former King has criticized the Northern Alliance for moving into Kabul before
there was agreement on a post-Taliban government. Some believe that, with the
Taliban collapsing, the Northern Alliance might try to retain power, possibly in
conjunction with Pashtun commanders in the east and south who have displaced the
Taliban in those areas. As of now, the Northern Alliance is setting up what it says is
a provisional administration in Kabul and has invited all factions to come to Kabul to
negotiate a successor regime. On the other hand, Rabbani has now returned to Kabul
File, May 18, 2000.
(November 15), and there is speculation he might try to reassert his presidency, which
was essentially ended by the Taliban
Harboring of Osama
Even before the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Taliban’s refusal to yield bin
Ladin to the United States (or a U.S. ally) for trial – and its protection of radical
Islamic movements more broadly – had become the overriding bilateral agenda item
in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan. 23 Osama bin Ladin, who has been indicted in the
United States for past acts of terrorism against the United States, remains in
Afghanistan, attempting to avoid U.S. air strikes and special forces possibly by hiding
in caves or tunnels, according to press reports. A key financier and recruiter of Arab
volunteers for the war against the Soviet occupation, he returned to Afghanistan after
being expelled from Sudan in June 1996, where he financed training camps for
terrorists operating throughout the Islamic world. Even though the Taliban has
virtually collapsed, Mullah Umar still refuses to hand over bin Ladin because he
greatly appreciates his role as a financier of Arab volunteers for the war against the
Soviet occupation and in funding care for the families of war victims. U.S. military
officials, however, believe that the Taliban collapse has greatly improved the chances
of finding bin Ladin. On September 20, 2001, a gathering of Afghan scholars
recommended that the Taliban try to persuade bin Ladin to leave Afghanistan as a
way of avoiding U.S. military action, but the United States called the move far short
of its demands to unconditionally turn him over.
Over the past few years, the United States has placed progressively more
pressure on the Taliban to extradite bin Ladin, adding sanctions, military action, and
the threat of further punishments to ongoing diplomatic efforts.
! During his April 1998 visit, Ambassador Richardson asked Taliban to hand bin
Ladin over to U.S. authorities, but he was rebuffed.
! On August 20, 1998, the United States fired cruise missiles at alleged bin
Ladin-controlled terrorist training camps in retaliation for the August 7, 1998
bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
! On July 4, 1999, because of the Taliban’s hosting of bin Ladin, President
Clinton issued Executive Order 13129, imposing a ban on U.S. trade with
Taliban-controlled portions of Afghanistan and blocking Taliban assets in U.S.
financial institutions. The Taliban was not designated as a terrorist group, nor
was Afghanistan named a state sponsor of terrorism. On August 10, 1999, the
Clinton Administration determined that Ariana Airlines represents Talibancontrolled property, thereby preventing Americans from using the airline and
triggering the blocking of about $500,000 in Ariana assets identified in the
For more information on bin Ladin and his Al Qaeda organization, see CRS Report
RL31119, Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2001, September 10, 2001.
See also CRS Report RS20411, Afghanistan: Connections to Islamic Movements in Central
and South Asia and Southern Russia.
United States. As of January 2001, $254 million in Taliban-controlled assets
in U.S. financial institutions had been discovered and blocked.
! On October 15, 1999, with Russian support, the United States achieved
adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267, the first U.N. resolution
sanctioning the Taliban regime. The resolution bans flights outside
Afghanistan by Ariana airlines and directed U.N. member states to freeze
Taliban assets. According to U.S. officials, the resolution succeeded in
grounding virtually all external flights by Ariana, although, aside from the
United States, very few other governments blocked Taliban assets. The
resolution was in response to the Taliban’s refusal to hand bin Ladin over to
justice, and it threatened further sanctions if it did not do so.
On December 19, 2000, again by combining diplomatic forces with Russia, the
United States achieved adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333, a followon to Resolution 1267, imposing even stricter sanctions against the Taliban. The
major additional provisions of the Resolution include the following:
! a worldwide prohibition against the provision of arms or military advice to the
Taliban, and a requirement (directed against Pakistan) that all countries
withdraw any military advisers that are helping the Taliban;
! a call for all countries that recognize the Taliban to reduce the size or Taliban
representative missions in their countries; and for all other countries to close
completely all Taliban offices and Ariana Afghan airline offices and ban all
nonhumanitarian assistance flights into or out of Taliban-controlled
! a requirement that all countries freeze any bin Ladin/Al Qaeda assets that can
! a prohibition on any supply to areas under Taliban control of the chemical
acetic anhydride, which is used to produce heroin; and
! a ban on foreign travel by all Taliban officials at or above the rank of Deputy
Minister, except for the purposes of participation in peace negotiations,
compliance with the resolution or 1267, or humanitarian reasons, including
On July 30, 2001, the U.N. Security Council adopted an implementing
Resolution 1363. The resolution provided for the stationing of monitors in Pakistan,
to ensure that no weapons or military advice is being provided by the Taliban.
Pakistan’s pledge to cooperate with the U.S. response to the September 11, 2001
attacks led to the virtual end of Pakistan’s supply of arms and military advice to the
Although bin Ladin’s network is the most high-profile terrorist organization in
Afghanistan, in December 2000 then State Department Coordinator Counterterrorism
Michael Sheehan testified before the House Judiciary Committee that other groups
and individuals had been protected by the Taliban. In addition to those mentioned
above with regard to Chechnya and Uzbekistan, other suspected terrorists in
Afghanistan include Raiz Basra, who had planned to assassinate former Pakistani
Prime Minister Nawwaz Sharif in 1999; and Tahir Yuldashev of the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan.
Other options to dissuade the Taliban from harboring radical Islamic movements
have been suggested for several years. One option, supported in the past by some
Members of Congress and endorsed in a June 7, 2000 report by the bipartisan
National Commission on Terrorism, has been to place Afghanistan on the U.S. list of
state sponsors of terrorism. However, the Administration opposes doing so on the
grounds that the move would imply U.S. recognition of Taliban as the legitimate
Human Rights/Treatment of Women
The Northern Alliance is widely considered far less repressive of women than
was the Taliban, although the Alliance has been accused of other major human rights
abuses in the past. Following the Taliban collapse, women in Kabul are said to be
reverting to the less restrictive behavior practiced before the Taliban fled. Taliban
human rights practices, and especially its treatment of women, received U.S. and
international condemnation. Seeking to enforce its brand of puritan Islam, the Taliban
subjected women to limitations on social participation, working, and education.
Women were forced to wear a head-to-toe veil in public, and they could not ride in
vehicles unless accompanied by a male relative.
At various times in the past, the Taliban’s treatment of women has forced many
United Nations and other aid organizations, including the U.N. High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, Save the Children, and Oxfam, to cut back or cease
operations, either in protest or for lack of available (female) staff. 24 In September
1999, a U.N. investigator on women’s rights in Afghanistan, Radhika
Coomaraswamy, called for international pressure on Taliban to abolish its Department
to Propagate Virtue and Prevent Vice, which is considered the Taliban’s main
instrument for depriving women of their rights. The headquarters of that agency has
been destroyed by U.S. bombardment, according to press accounts. The Department
of State human rights report on Afghanistan for 2000 says that violence against
women continued that year, including rape, kidnaping, and forced marriages, and that
such acts were perpetrated by Taliban fighters, in some cases. On the other hand,
U.N. human rights rapporteur for Afghanistan Kamal Hossain in his recent reports
and the U.S. human rights report for 2000 noted increasing flexibility on this issue on
the part of the Taliban.
Even before the war, there was significant U.S. and U.N. pressure on the Taliban
regime to moderate its treatment of women. Several U.N. Security Council
resolutions, including 1193 (August 28, 1998), and 1214 (December 8, 1998), urge
the Taliban to end discrimination against women. During a November 1997 visit to
Pakistan, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attacked Taliban policies as
Cooper, Kenneth, “Kabul Women Under Virtual House Arrest.” Washington Post, October
7, 1996. A1.
despicable and intolerable. U.S. women’s rights groups like Feminist Majority and
the National Organization for Women (NOW) mobilized to stop the Clinton
Administration from recognizing the Taliban government unless it alters its treatment
of women. Former First Lady and now Senator Hillary Clinton and several
Hollywood celebrities, particularly Mavis Leno (wife of late-night comedian Jay
Leno) have spoken out strongly against Taliban policies toward women and girls. On
May 5, 1999, the Senate passed S.Res.68, a resolution calling on the President not
to recognize any Afghan government that refuses to end discrimination against
women. As noted above, a bill introduced in the 107th Congress (H.Con.Res. 26)
seeks to link U.S. recognition of the Taliban with its treatment of women and girls.
Another bill, H.Res. 281, expresses support for women’s organizations that worked
secretly during the Taliban’s rule and urges a post-Taliban regime to include women
as leaders. As discussed below, U.S. aid programs have been increasingly targeted
to improve education and health programs for Afghan women and girls.
In August 2001, the Taliban arrested 8 workers for a German relief agency,
including two Americans, Dana Curry and Heather Mercer, on charges of preaching
Christianity to Afghans. Their trial has begun, although it has proceeded sporadically
since the start of the U.S. military action. The Taliban allowed the two American
women’s parents, as well as U.S. consular officials based in Pakistan, to visit the two
women in Kabul. The workers were freed in the chaos surrounding the Taliban
collapse and spirited out of Afghanistan by U.S. special forces on November 14.
The Taliban has also been criticized by U.S. and U.N. human rights reports as
committing harsh repression of minorities in areas under its control, particularly
Hazara tribe Shiite Muslims who live in central Afghanistan.25 U.N. human rights
investigators and human rights groups say that on January 8, 2001, the Taliban
massacred 300 Hazara Shiites following a battle for the central Afghan city of
Yakaolang.26 In January 2001, Mullah Omar decreed that conversion from Islam to
Christianity would be a crime punishable by death.
Destruction of Buddha Statues. The Taliban’s critics pointed to its March
2001 destruction of two large Buddha statues, dating to the 7th century, as evidence
of the Taliban’s excesses. The Taliban claimed it ordered the destruction of the
statues, which it considered un-Islamic, after representatives of the United Nations
Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) offered to fund preservation
of the statues. The Taliban said this offer angered it on the grounds that UNESCO
was offering money for cultural preservation at a time when Afghans lacked sufficient
food. Others believe the move was a reaction to new U.N. sanctions imposed in
December 2000 (see below). Another possible motivation was to punish the Shiite
minority that live in Bamiyan Province, where the statues were located. The
destruction provoked widespread condemnation, even among other Islamic states,
Afghan Taliban Demand Sacking of U.N Investigator. Reuters, April 21, 2001.
Constable, Pamela. Many Witnesses Report Massacre by Taliban. Washington Post,
February 19, 2001.
Hindu Badges. In May 2001, the Taliban said it was considering requiring
non-Muslims to wear identity labels on their clothing to distinguish them from
Muslims. The Taliban explained the move as an effort to prevent non-Muslims from
being harassed by Taliban security forces for not attending Muslim prayer, which is
compulsory for Muslims. The announcement received worldwide condemnation.
Responding to the criticism, the Taliban subsequently said that the leaders of the
Hindu community in Afghanistan would be consulted before the order was
implemented. There are believed to be only two Jews left in Afghanistan, so the move
was not viewed as being directed against Jews, even though the policy evoked
memories of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Although largely irrelevant now
that the Taliban has collapsed, a final decision was pending before the Taliban’s
Council of Ministers, according to U.N. Secretary General Annan’s report on
Afghanistan of August 17, 2001.
On the other hand, many say that Taliban brought order and peace to the areas
it captured by disarming independent militiamen. By imposing central authority and
cracking down on banditry, it opened some roads to free commerce leading to a
greater availability of food in many areas under its control. Press accounts say that
the streets are safer, fewer people carry guns, and there have been very few murders
since Taliban came to power.27 Others add that Taliban rule approximated the
traditional practice of Islam found in those parts of Afghanistan dominated by
Pashtuns and did not represent a radical departure for Afghanistan.
Since late 2000, international observers were reporting substantial progress in
curbing drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan as the Taliban appeared to be
enforcing its July 2000 ban on poppy cultivation. The Northern Alliance did not issue
a similar ban in areas it controlled. In February 2001, U.N. International Drug
Control Program (UNDCP) officials said that surveys showed a dramatic drop in
poppy cultivation in the areas surveyed. 28 In April 2001, following the release of this
information, the Bush Administration sent two U.S. drug officials to participate in a
UNDCP mission to assess how to help farmers who have abandoned poppy growing.
Responding to the Taliban cooperation on this issue, the United States began funding
a UNDCP program to assist former poppy cultivators in Afghanistan. The United
States contributed $1.5 million to that crop substitution program in FY2001.
The new information came after several years of frustration. The U.S. annual
report on narcotics for 2000, which covered the period January-December 2000,
repeated previous criticism of the Taliban’s failure to curb poppy cultivation. In
March 2001, Afghanistan was again listed by the United States, as it has been every
year since 1987, as a state that is uncooperative with U.S. efforts to eliminate drug
trafficking or has failed to take sufficient steps on its own to curb trafficking. Press
accounts indicate that since the U.S. military campaign began in October, some
Schork, Kurt, “Taleban Admits To Problem Of Image, Not Substance.” Reuters, November
Crossette, Barbara. “Taliban Seem to Be Making Good on Opium Ban, U.N. Says.” New
York Times, February 7, 2001.
farmers in Taliban-controlled territory resumed growing poppies, apparently out of
defiance of the U.S. war on the Taliban.
Retrieval of U.S. Stingers
Beginning in late 1985 and following an internal debate, the Reagan
Administration provided “hundreds” of man-portable “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles
to the mujahedin for use against Soviet combat helicopters and aircraft. Common
estimates among experts suggest that 200-300 Stingers may remain at large in
Afghanistan out of about 1,000 provided during the war against the Soviet Union.29
In the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States
determined that it needed to retrieve the at-large Stingers. 30 The United States feared
that the missiles could fall into the hands of terrorist groups for possible use against
civilian airliners. Iran bought 16 of the missiles in 1987 and fired one against U.S.
With a considerable amount of money and influence in Afghanistan at his
disposal during the Taliban’s rule, bin Ladin’s organization almost certainly acquired
some Stingers. In the aftermath of the August 1998 U.S. missile strikes on bin
Ladin’s bases in Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration directed U.S. air
carriers not to fly over Afghanistan. India claimed that it was a Stinger, supplied to
Islamic rebels in Kashmir probably by sympathizers in Afghanistan, that shot down an
Indian helicopter over Kashmir in May 1999.31 On the other hand, some observers
question whether the Stingers, lacking a source of spare parts, can still be used
effectively. As of October 30, 2001, no U.S. aircraft have been hit by Taliban antiaircraft fire from Stingers or any other surface-to-air missile or gun devices.
The practical difficulties of retrieving the weapons have caused this issue to fade
from the U.S. agenda for Afghanistan. In 1992, the United States reportedly spent
about $10 million to buy the Stingers back, at a premium, from individual mujahedin
commanders. The New York Times reported on July 24, 1993, that the buy back
effort failed because the United States was competing with other buyers, including
Iran and North Korea, and that the CIA would spend about $55 million in FY1994
in a renewed Stinger buy-back effort. On March 7, 1994, the Washington Post
reported that the CIA had recovered only a fraction of the at-large Stingers. Many
observers speculate that the CIA program retrieved perhaps 50 or 100 Stingers.
According to Defense Intelligence Agency testimony in 1996, 32 an unspecified
number of man-portable surface-to-air missiles (Stingers) remain in Afghanistan. 33
There have been no recent reports of any U.S. efforts to recover remaining Stingers.
Saleem, Farrukh. Where Are the Missing Stinger Missiles? Pakistan, Friday Times.
August 17-23, 2001.
Gertz, Bill. Stinger Bite Feared in CIA. Washington Times, October 9, 2000.
“U.S.-Made Stinger Missiles – Mobile and Lethal.” Reuters, May 28, 1999.
John Moore, before the House International Relations Committee. May 9, 1996.
Common estimates in a variety of press reports suggest that 200-300 Stingers may remain
at large in Afghanistan.
Landmines laid during the Soviet occupation constitute one of the principal
dangers to the Afghan people. The United Nations estimates that 5 -7 million mines
remain scattered throughout the country, although some estimates by outside
organizations are significantly lower. An estimated 400,000 Afghans have been killed
or wounded by landmines. U.N. teams have succeeded in destroying one million
mines and are now focusing on de-mining priority-use, residential and commercial
property, including land surrounding Kabul. As shown in the U.S. aid table for
FY1999 and FY2000 below, the United States Humanitarian Demining Program
provided $3 million for Afghanistan demining activities in FY2000. According to a
U.S. Agency for International Development fact sheet issued on May 4, 2001, The
U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program provided $2.8 million for these activities in
FY2001, of which $1.1 million went to the HALO Trust, a British organization, and
$1.7 million consisted of financial and in-kind contributions to the U.N. Mine Action
Program for Afghanistan.
Alleviating Human Suffering
Afghanistan faces major humanitarian problems, some of which have deteriorated
further since Taliban came to power. In addition to 2.6 million Afghan refugees, 34
another 500,000 Afghans were displaced internally even before U.S. military action
began, according to Secretary General Annan’s April 19, 2001 report. Many of the
displaced persons had fled the effects of a major drought that have affected the 85%
of the population that directly depends on agriculture. Of the internally displaced
persons, about 140,000 went to Herat, site of the February 2001 death of 150
Afghans who were exposed to freezing weather. The conflicts in Afghanistan,
including the war against the Soviet Union, have reportedly left about 2 million dead,
700,000 widows and orphans and about one million Afghan children who were born
and raised in refugee camps outside Afghanistan. Some refugees are now members
of a third generation to live outside Afghanistan, although many are beginning to
return now that the Taliban has fallen from power in Kabul.
Since the U.S. military action began, the humanitarian situation has become more
acute. By some accounts, as many as 70% of the 500,000 residents of Qandahar fled
the city on some nights of U.S. bombing, although many filtered back in shortly
thereafter. As part of its military operations, the United States has air-dropped food
rations to help alleviate suffering. In light of the Taliban collapse, aid routes overland
and via barge from Uzbekistan have now opened up.
Taliban policies often hampered humanitarian relief efforts, although opposition
factions also occasionally harassed relief workers in areas under their control as well.
During July 1997 - January 1999, Taliban imposed an aid embargo on the Hazarajat
region (where Hazara Shiites live), preventing U.N. officials from delivering much-
There are about 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Iran; 1.2 million in Pakistan; 20,000 in
Russia; 17,000 in India, and 9,000 in the Central Asian states.
needed food to the nearly one million residents of the region.35 During July-August
1998, 35 aid agencies, including Save the Children USA, suspended operations in
Afghanistan because Taliban officials forced them to relocate to a run-down
dormitory. Agencies also were hampered by Taliban restrictions on women working
outside the home, as well as harassment of foreign aid workers. Further complicating
relief efforts, aid workers left Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks after the Taliban said it could not protect them in the event of U.S. military
action, although they are returning in the wake of the Taliban collapse.
The United Nations continues to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts through
the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC), and UNOCHA. UNHCR supervises Afghan refugee camps
in Pakistan and Afghan repatriation.
U.S. Aid. To address humanitarian concerns, the United States became the
largest single provider of assistance to the Afghan people, even before the crisis
triggered by the September 11 attacks. However, there has been no USAID mission
for Afghanistan since the end of FY1994, and U.S. aid is provided through various
channels, mostly U.N. agencies and NGO’s. Table 2 depicts the history of U.S. aid
to Afghanistan during FY1978 - FY1998. In 1985, the United States began a crossborder aid program for Afghanistan, through which aid was distributed in
Afghanistan, via U.S. aid workers in Pakistan. However, citing budgetary constraints
and the difficulty of administering a cross-border program, that program closed at the
end of FY1994, and no cross-border aid money has been requested since then.
U.S. aid to the Afghan people in FY2001 greatly exceeded that provided in
FY2000 or FY1999. Table 2 breaks down FY1999-FY2001 aid by program.
According to the USAID fact sheet issued September 27, 2001, the United States
provided about $183 million in assistance to the Afghan people in FY2001. For a
history of U.S. aid to Afghanistan, see Table 3.
On October 4, 2001, President Bush announced that aid to the Afghan people
would total about $320 million for FY2002. This will include food, blankets,
medicine, and shelter for Afghan refugees in states bordering Afghanistan and the
people inside Afghanistan. The amounts provided thus far in FY2002 are listed in the
table , which include $6.255 million worth (as of November 13) of food rations
dropped by the U.S. military. This represents 1.454 million Humanitarian Daily
Rations (HDR’s). The United States has also indicated it will provide substantial
reconstruction assistance for a post-Taliban Afghanistan , and this could total in the
several billions. The Senate version of the FY2002 foreign aid appropriation (H,R.
2506) contains a sense of the Senate provision that the U.S. should contribute longterm reconstruction and development assistance to the people of Afghanistan,
although no dollar figures are mentioned.
Crossette, Barbara, “Taliban Agree to Cooperate with Ban on Opium Trade.” New York
Times, October 25, 1997.
Table 2. U.S. Aid to Afghanistan in FY1999 , 2000,
and 2001 by Channel/Program
($ in millions)
and USAID Food
For Peace, via
$42.0 worth of wheat
tons) under DOA’s
$68.875 for 165,000
metric tons. Of this,
60,000 tons were for
May 2000 drought
aid Food for
WFP and the Aga
$2.6 for Afghan
$16.95 for Afghan
refugees in Pakistan
and Iran, and to
$14.0 for the same
$14.03 for the same
$7.0 to various
NGO’s to aid
$6.68 for drought
relief and health,
water, and sanitation
$0.5 in response to a
May 2000 U.N.
appeal to help
$6.169, of which
$3.82 went to
Afghan women and
girls in Pakistan
via UNHCR and
Office of Foreign
Aid to Afghan
$5.44, of which
$2.789 went to
health and training
for Afghan women
and girls in Pakistan
U.N. Drug Control
Dept. of Defense
Center for Disease
Promoting Long-Term Economic Development
In an effort to find a long-term solution to Afghanistan’s acute humanitarian
problems, the United States has, when feasible, tried to promote major development
projects as a means of improving Afghan living standards and political stability over
the long term. During 1996-98, the Administration supported proposed natural gas
and oil pipelines through western Afghanistan as an incentive for the warring factions
to cooperate. One proposal by a consortium led by Los Angeles-based Unocal
Corporation36 was for a Central Asia Oil Pipeline (CAOP) that would originate at the
Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border and extend through the western region of
Afghanistan to Pakistan. A $2.5 billion Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CentGas) would
originate in southern Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan, with
possible extensions into India.
However, the deterioration in U.S.-Taliban relations since 1998 largely ended
hopes for the pipeline projects while the Taliban was in power. Immediately after the
August 20,1998 U.S. strikes on bin Ladin’s bases in Afghanistan, Unocal suspended
all its Afghan pipeline-related activities, including a U.S.-based training program for
Afghans who were expected to work on the project. With few prospects of improved
U.S. relations with Taliban, Unocal withdrew from its consortium in December 1998.
Saudi Delta Oil was made interim project leader, although Delta lacks the financing
and technology to make the consortium viable. The rival consortium led by Bridas
of Argentina reportedly continues to try to win approval for its proposal to undertake
the project, although virtually no new developments on this project have been
announced over the past few years.
Other participants in the Unocal consortium include: Delta of Saudi Arabia, Hyundai of
South Korea, Crescent Steel of Pakistan, Itochu Corporation and INPEX of Japan, and the
government of Turkmenistan. Some accounts say Russia’s Gazprom would probably receive
a stake in the project. Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 30, 1997. Page 3.
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan FY1978-1998
($ in millions)
(Title I and II)
(Soviet invasion - December 1979)
Source: U.S. Department of State.
** Includes $3 million for demining and $1.2 million for counternarcotics.
*** Includes $3.3 million in projects targeted for Afghan women and girls, $7 million in earthquake
relief aid, 100,000 tons of 416B wheat worth about $15 million, $2 million for demining, and $1.54
Appendix: U.S. and International Sanctions
A wide range of U.S. sanctions, initially imposed on Afghanistan because of the
Soviet occupation, remain in effect. It is not clear if the sanctions will be altered to
take into account the new political arrangements in Afghanistan following the Taliban
collapse. During Taliban rule, a new set of U.S. sanctions was imposed in July 1999
and, for the first time, U.N. sanctions were imposed in October 1999. Some believe
the sanctions give the United States leverage that can help bring peace to Afghanistan.
These sanctions prevent the Afghan government from receiving U.S. aid and trade
preferences in the form of Most Favored Nation status or benefits awarded under the
Generalized System of Preferences. Normal trade is now banned with Talibancontrolled areas.
U.S. sanctions are likely to remain until a broad-based government that
recognizes international norms of behavior is established.
! On May 2, 1980, Afghanistan was deleted from the list of designated
beneficiary countries under the U.S. GSP, denying Afghanistan’s exports duty
free treatment, by Executive Order 12204 (45 F.R. 20740). This was done
under the authority of Section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended [P.L.
93-618; 19 U.S.C. 2464].
! On June 3, 1980, as part of the sanctions against the Soviet Union for the
invasion of Afghanistan, the United States imposed controls on exports to
Afghanistan of agricultural products, oil and gas exploration and production
equipment, and phosphates. This was implemented at 15 CFR Part 373 et seq
(45 F.R. 37415) under the authority of Sections 5 and 6 of the Export
Administration Act of 1979 [P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C. app. 2404, app. 2405]. On
April 24, 1981, these sanctions were modified to terminate controls on U.S.
exports to Afghanistan of agricultural products and phosphates.
! In mid-1992, the Bush Administration determined that Afghanistan no longer
had a “Soviet-controlled government.” This opened Afghanistan to the use of
U.S. funds made available for the U.S. share of U.N. organizations that
provide assistance to Afghanistan.
! On October 7, 1992, President Bush issued Presidential Determination 93-3
that Afghanistan is no longer a Marxist-Leninist country. The designation as
such a country had prohibited Afghanistan from receiving Export-Import Bank
guarantees, insurance, or credits for purchases under Sec. 8 of the 1986
Export-Import Bank Act, which amended Section 2(b)(2) of the ExportImport Bank Act of 1945 (P.L. 79-173, 12 U.S.C. 635). However, President
Bush’s determination was not implemented before he left office. The Clinton
Administration is said to be unlikely to implement the determination because
of the continuing instability in Afghanistan.
! President Bush’s October 7, 1992 determination (93-3) also found that
assistance to Afghanistan under Section 620D of the Foreign Assistance Act
is in the national interest of the United States because of the change of regime
in Afghanistan. The presidential determination, had it been implemented in
regulations, would have waived restrictions on assistance to Afghanistan
provided for in the Act, as amended [P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2374]; as added
by Section 505 of the International Development Cooperation Act of 1979
[P.L. 96-53]. These provisions prohibit foreign assistance to Afghanistan until
it apologizes for the death of U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs,
who was kidnapped in Kabul in 1979 and killed when Afghan police stormed
the hideout where he was held, unless the President determines that such
assistance is in the national interest because of changed circumstances in
! President Bush’s October 7, 1992 determination, had it been implemented,
would have restored nondiscriminatory trade treatment (most favored nation
status, MFN) to the products of Afghanistan. In the spring of 1996, as part of
increased efforts to try to help Afghanistan, the Clinton Administration began
considering restoring MFN to Afghanistan. However, some executive bodies,
particularly the National Security Council, appeared to oppose Afghan MFN
on the grounds that restoration of MFN would put the United States in the
unwanted position of publicly siding with individual factions in power at the
time. Section 552 of the Foreign Assistance Appropriations for FY1986 [P.L.
99-190], which appeared in the FY1986 Continuing Resolution, authorized the
President to deny any U.S. credits or most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff status
for Afghanistan. On February 18, 1986, President Reagan had issued
Presidential Proclamation 5437, suspending (MFN) tariff status for
Afghanistan (51 F.R. 4287).
! On March 31, 1993, President Clinton waived restrictions provided for in
Section 481 (h) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended [P.L. 87195]; as amended and restated by Section 2005(a) of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act
of 1986 [P.L. 99-570]. The waiver was renewed in 1994 but it has not been
renewed since then. Mandatory sanctions include aid cuts and suspensions, the
casting of negative U.S. votes for multilateral development bank loans, and a
non-allocation of a U.S. sugar quota. Discretionary sanctions included denial
of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP); additional duties on country
exports to the United States; and curtailment of air transportation with the
United States. The 1993 and 1994 waivers were on the grounds that aiding
Afghanistan was in the U.S. national interest. The waiver, when it was in
effect, would have opened Afghanistan to bilateral assistance and Ex-Im Bank
credits if there were no other sanctions barring such assistance.
! On June 14, 1996, Afghanistan was formally added to the list of countries
prohibited from receiving exports or licenses for exports of U.S. defense
articles and services. This amended the International Traffic in Arms
Regulations (22 CFR Part 121 et seq.) under the authority of Section 38 of the
Arms Export Control Act, as amended (P.L. 90-629; 22 U.S.C. 2778) by
adding Afghanistan at Section 126.1 of 22 CFR Part 126.
! In a ruling largely redundant with the one above, on May 15, 1997, the State
Department designated Afghanistan under the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132), as a state that is not cooperating
with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The designation, made primarily because of
Taliban’s harboring of bin Ladin, makes Afghanistan ineligible to receive U.S.
exports of items on the U.S. Munitions List. The designation was repeated
every year since 1997 and is likely to continue to be repeated until Taliban
expels or extradites bin Ladin.
! On July 4, 1999, the President declared a national emergency with respect to
Taliban because of its hosting of bin Ladin, and issued Executive order 13129
that imposed sanctions . See section on the harboring of bin Ladin for the
provisions of the order. The sanctions include the blocking of Taliban assets
and property in the United States, and a ban on U.S. trade with Talibancontrolled areas of Afghanistan. Now that Taliban-controlled territory has
become very limited in the aftermath of the Taliban collapse, it is possible that
the practical effects of this trade ban will be sharply reduced. On August 10,
1999, the Administration determined that Ariana Afghan Airlines was a Taliban
entity. That determination triggered a blocking of Ariana assets (about
$500,000) in the United States and a ban on U.S. citizens’ flying on the airline.
! On October 15, 1999, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1267.
See section on the harboring of bin Ladin for the sanctions imposed under this
! As noted above, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333 of December 19,
2000, imposed a number of new sanctions against the Taliban. For the
provisions, see the section on the harboring of bin Ladin.
Map of Afghanistan
Map adapted by CRS from Magellan Geographix.