Order Code RL30588
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Afghanistan: Current Issues and
U.S. Policy Concerns
Updated December 12, 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 collapse in November December 2001. During that time, it was opposed primarily by the 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 opposition
groups to gain control of all of Afghanistan by early December.
The collapse of the Taliban has enabled the United States to send in special
forces to southern and eastern Afghanistan to search for Taliban and Al Qaeda
leaders, including bin Ladin himself. Citizens in areas now under opposition control,
although wary of the opposition groups, are also enjoying new personal freedoms that
were forbidden under the Taliban. With the Taliban defeated, the United States and
its coalition partners are distributing additional humanitarian aid through newly
opened routes, and are beginning to plan a major reconstruction effort.
Although the Northern Alliance has emerged as the dominant force in the
country, controlling about 70% of Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan, other
countries, and the United Nations urged the Alliance to negotiate with Pashtun
representatives, including those of the former King Mohammad Zahir Shah, to form
a broad-based government. On December 5, 2001, major Afghan factions, meeting
under U.N. auspices in Bonn, signed an agreement to form an interim government that
will run Afghanistan for at least the next 6 months. The interim government will be
chaired by a Pashtun leader, Hamid Karzai, but the Northern Alliance will hold 17 out
of the 30 cabinet positions, including the three key posts responsible for foreign
policy, defense, and internal security.
Background to Recent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Rise of The Taliban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mullah Muhammad Umar/Taliban Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Coalescence of the Northern Alliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The War and Its Political Aftermath
The “Six Plus Two” and Geneva Contact Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
King Zahir Shah and the Loya Jirga Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bonn Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Regional Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Central Asian States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Saudi Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
U.S. Policy Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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/Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
U.S. Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Promoting Long-Term Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
U.S. and International Sanctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Map of Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
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 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
from his powerbase around Jalalabad- 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 Pashtuns allied with
Table 1. Major Factions in Afghanistan
Areas of Control
Muhammad Umar Pashtun
Pockets of fighters
around Qandahar and
parts of northern
(dominant party in the
Rabbani (political Islamic, Tajik
Most of northern and
Forces of Ismail Khan
(part of Northern
Herat Province and
Eastern Shura (loosely
allied with Northern
Hajji Abdul Qadir moderate
Movement of Afghanistan Dostam
(part of Northern
socialist, Uzbek Mazar Sharif and
Hamid Karzai and mostly orthodox southern Afghanistan,
(part of Northern
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, 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.
Mullah Muhammad Umar/Taliban Leaders. During the war against the
Soviet Union, Taliban founder Mullah Muhammad Umar fought in the Hizb-e-Islam
(Islamic Party) mujahedin party led by Yunis Khalis. During Taliban rule, 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,
Mullah Umar forged a close personal bond with bin Ladin and was 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
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.
died at the hands of U.S. airstrikes in early October. As of December 12, 2001, Umar
was last reported to have fled Qandahar city and possibly been injured in the course
of the Taliban surrender of that city on December 9.
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 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, who is a veteran commander but is said to lack
the overarching authority of Masud. However, Fahim’s prestige was enhanced by the
Alliance’s defeat of the Taliban in the U.S.-backed military campaign. Alliance forces
control about 70% of Afghanistan, including Kabul, which they captured on
November 12, 2001. Other senior political officers in the Alliance include Dr.
Abdullah Abdullah, who is its Foreign Minister, and Yunus Qanuni, who is Interior
Minister. All three – Fahim, Abdullah, and Qanuni – will assume those positions in
the interim government that takes office on December 22, 2001.
The War and Its Political Aftermath
As noted above, many of the Northern Alliance commanders have regained their
former strongholds, and Rabbani has returned to Kabul as a caretaker. Groups of
Pashtun commanders are in control of cities and provinces east and south of Kabul,
and Taliban remnants continue to hold out outside of Qandahar and in pockets in
northern Afghanistan. As the war against remaining Al Qaida guerrillas and the
Taliban continues, a longstanding U.N. effort to form a broad-based Afghan
government accelerated and appears to have borne some fruit.
For the past 8 years, the United States worked primarily through the United
Nations to end the Afghan civil conflict 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 outside experts, in which a permanent government is to
be chosen through a traditional Afghan selection process, the loya jirga, a grand
assembly of notable Afghans.
These U.N. efforts, at times, appeared to make significant progress, but
ceasefires and other agreements between the warring factions have always broken
down over conflicting demands. Brahimi suspended his activities in frustration in
October 1999, and another U.N. mediator, Spanish diplomat Fransesc Vendrell, was
The September 11 attacks and the start of U.S. military action against the
Taliban injected new urgency into the search for a government that might replace the
Taliban. In late September, Brahimi was brought back as the U.N. point person to
help arrange an alternative government to the Taliban; Vendrell became his deputy.
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 since early 1997 to discuss ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan. The
process was conducted in coordination with U.N. peace efforts for 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
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 the Loya Jirga Processes. The United States also
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. Another group based on the participation of former King Zahir Shah, was
centered in Rome, where the former King is based (“Rome Grouping). A third
grouping, calling itself the “Cyprus Process,” consists of former Afghan officials and
other Afghan exiles generally sympathetic to Iran.
Many of the hopes for a post-Taliban government at first appeared to center on
the former King. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Members of
Congress and U.S. and U.N. officials visited him in Rome in the course of discussing
a new Afghan government. A 2-day (October 25-26, 2001) meeting of more than
700 Afghan tribal elders in Peshawar, Pakistan (“Peshawar Grouping”) issued a
concluding statement calling for the return of the former King. However, even
Federal Register, Volume 61, No. 125, June 27, 1996. Page 33313.
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
As the U.S. war against the Taliban and Al Qaida
continued, delegates of the various groupings discussed above gathered in Bonn,
Germany, at the invitation of Brahimi and the United Nations. The Taliban was not
represented. On December 5, 2001, the factions signed an agreement to form a 30member interim administration, to govern until March 2002. At that time, a loya
jirga, to be opened by the former King, would choose a new government to run
Afghanistan for the next 2 years until a new constitution is drafted and elections held.
A slim majority of the 30 positions in the new cabinet went to the Northern Alliance,
with this block holding the key posts of Defense (Mohammad Fahim), Foreign Affairs
(Dr. Abdullah Abdullah), and Interior (Yunus Qanuni). However, Rabbani agreed
to step aside under pressure from several neighboring governments and rival factions,
and the post of provisional prime minster went to Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai.
Karzai, leader of the powerful Popolzai tribe of Pashtuns, had entered Afghanistan
in October 2001 to organize resistance to the Taliban, and he was supported in that
effort by U.S. special forces. He has relatives in and close ties to the United States.
It is not clear whether the former King or his relatives will play a role in a more
permanent Afghan government.
The Bonn conferees also agreed to invite an international peace keeping force
to maintain security at least in Kabul. The exact composition and mission of the
force has not yet been determined. The conference’s conclusions were endorsed by
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1385 (December 6, 2001). Some Afghan factions
complained initially that their ethnic or party groupings were not sufficiently
represented in the interim cabinet, but most have since pledged to cooperate with it.
The United States is in the process of reopening its embassy in Kabul, closed since the
Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Regional Context 6
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. All of these governments have endorsed the Bonn
agreement and most, apparently including Pakistan, have expressed a sense of relief
that the Taliban regime has been defeated. Some experts believe that future stability
in Afghanistan will depend on the ability of the United States and other governments
to prevent Afghanistan’s neighbors from attempting to manipulate Afghanistan’s
factions and its political structure to their advantage.
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
Pakistan, which hosted almost 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 saw Afghanistan as
essential to opening up trade relations and energy routes with the Muslim states of the
former Soviet Union and believed the Taliban movement had the potential to fulfill
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.
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.8 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 pre-September 11 steps toward cooperation with the United States
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 and Pakistani terrorist groups, such as the Harakat
al-Mujahedin (HUM),9 are allied with Al Qaida, 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
For further discussion, see Rashid, Ahmed. “The Taliban: Exporting Extremism.” Foreign
Affairs, November - December 1999.
Constable, Pamela. New Sanctions Strain Taliban-Pakistan Ties. Washington Post, January
The State Department has designated HUM as a foreign terrorist organization.
into a war with India over Kashmir. HUM leaders have signed some of Al Qaida’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 appears to have alleviated 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
strong Pashtun-based component for a post-Taliban government. Pakistan is wary
that a post-Taliban government dominated by the Northern Alliance, which is backed
by India, would amount to Indian encirclement of Pakistan. To counter that
perceived threat, Pakistan was instrumental in ensuring that Northern Alliance leader
Rabbani would not be chairman of the interim government. Pakistan also succeeded
in building a role for the former King in selecting a permanent government, although
the former King’s role appears to be limited.
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 Alliance11 and hosted fighters loyal to Ismail Khan. Khan had been
captured by the Taliban in 1998 but escaped and fled to Iran in March 2000 and has
now recaptured Herat.
Iran is said to be deeply relieved that the Taliban has fallen. 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
For more information on U.S. sanctions on Pakistan, see CRS Report RS20995, India and
Pakistan: Current U.S. Economic Sanctions. Dianne E. Rennack.
Steele, Jonathon, “America Includes Iran In Talks On Ending War In Afghanistan.”
Washington Times, December 15, 1997. A14.
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.
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. 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
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 1.5 million Afghan refugees are still in Iran; most of these have been
permitted to integrate into Iranian society.12 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 primarily
to prevent a flood of new refugees into Iran.
A number of considerations might explain why Russia has supported 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 has been to
prevent the further strengthening of Islamic or nationalist movements in the Central
Asian states or Islamic enclaves in Russia itself, including Chechnya. 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.13 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
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
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.14 Even before the October-November war, Russia was
supporting the Northern Alliance with some military equipment and technical
assistance.15 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
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 Al Qaida. 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 after September 11, apparently in exchange for Russia’s support
for the U.S. anti-terrorism effort. Some outside experts believe that Russia
exaggerated the threat emanating from Afghanistan in an effort to persuade the
Central Asian states to rebuild closer defense ties to Moscow.
Central Asian States 16
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. In 1996, several of them banded together with
Russia and China into a regional grouping now called the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization to discuss the threat emanating from Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.
The organization now groups China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan. Of the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, two of them –
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – had seen 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. Prior to the U.S. war on the Taliban and
Al Qaida, Uzbek officials had previously said that Dostam was an ineffective
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
For further information, see CRS Report RL30294. Central Asia’s Security: Issues and
Implications for U.S. Interests. December 7, 1999.
commander and that Uzbekistan’s support would not have allowed his militia to
overturn Taliban control of the north.17
Uzbekistan has long asserted 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 Al Qaida.18 One of
its leaders, Juma Namangani, reportedly was killed while commanding Taliban/Al
Qaeda forces in the battle for Mazar-e-Sharif in November 2001, although Uzbekistan
is demanding proof that he has died. 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, Uzbekistan, on December 9, 2001, reopened the
Soviet-built “Friendship Bridge” over the Amu Darya river in order to facilitate the
flow of aid into Uzbekistan.
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, including
Namangani, 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.19
Kazakhstan had begun to diplomatically engage the Taliban over the past year, but
it publicly supported the U.S. war effort against the Taliban. In early December
2001, Kyrgyzstan offered to host some U.S. warplanes at least temporarily.
Of the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, only Turkmenistan was not
alarmed at Taliban gains and chose to seek close relations with the Taliban leadership.
CRS conversations with Uzbek government officials in Tashkent. April 1999.
The IMU was named a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in September
Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999, pp. 14, 92.
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 Qaida guests and the country is supporting the U.S. antiterrorism 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 Al Qaida to promote Islamic fundamentalism among Muslims (Uighurs) in
northwestern China. A number of Uighurs fought in Taliban and Al Qaida ranks in
the U.S.-led war. China has expressed its concern through active membership in a
regional grouping called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which 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. In December 2000,
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 has
quietly permitted the United States to use a Saudi base for command of U.S. air
operations over Afghanistan, although it has not allowed U.S. aircraft to launch
strikes on Afghanistan from Saudi bases. 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 long been multifaceted, although in
recent years U.S. goals had largely narrowed to ending the presence of the leadership
of the Al Qaida leadership and infrastructure there. 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 had 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.
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.20 Osama bin Ladin, who has been indicted in the
United States for past acts of terrorism against the United States, reportedly 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. U.S. military officials
believe that the Taliban collapse has greatly improved the chances of finding bin Ladin
who, as of December 12, 2001, was believed by fighters of the Eastern Shura to be
hiding in the mountainous Tora Bora area south of Jalalabad.
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.
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
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
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 Clinton and Bush Administrations opposed
doing so on the grounds that the move would have implied U.S. recognition of
Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.
Human Rights/Treatment of Women
The groups that have assumed power from the Taliban are widely considered
far less repressive of women than was the Taliban, although some of the factions now
ruling the country have been accused of other major human rights abuses in the past.
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. Following the Taliban
collapse, women in Kabul are said to be reverting to the less restrictive behavior
practiced before the Taliban fled. Two women will hold positions in the new interim
cabinet to take office on December 22, 2001.
At various times in the past, the Taliban’s treatment of women had 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.21 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 was considered the Taliban’s main
instrument for depriving women of their rights. The headquarters of that agency in
Qandahar has been destroyed by U.S. bombardment, according to press accounts.
Cooper, Kenneth, “Kabul Women Under Virtual House Arrest.” Washington Post, October
7, 1996. A1.
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
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. On November 27, 2001, the House unanimously adopted S.1573, the
Afghan Women and Children Relief Act, which had earlier passed the Senate. The
law (signed December 12, 2001) calls for the use of supplemental funding
(appropriated by P.L. 107-38) to fund educational and health programs for Afghan
women and children.
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 had begun, although it proceeded sporadically
after the start of the U.S. military action. Before the bombing, 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.
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). The destruction provoked widespread condemnation,
even among other Islamic states, including Pakistan.
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 the 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 were safer, fewer people carried guns, and there were very few murders
during Taliban rule.22 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 have been 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.23 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
Bonn agreement mentions the need for a post-Taliban Afghanistan government to
prevent Afghanistan’s re-emergence as a haven for drug cultivation.
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.
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
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.
to the mujahedin for use against Soviet combat helicopters and aircraft. Prior to the
U.S.-led war against the Taliban and Al Qaida, common estimates among experts
suggested that 200-300 Stingers remained at large in Afghanistan out of about 1,000
provided during the war against the Soviet Union.24 U.S. pilots reported that the
Taliban fired some Stingers at U.S. aircraft during the war, but they recorded no hits.
It is not known how many Stingers might still remain, but any remaining Stingers are
likely controlled by Afghans now allied to the United States and would presumably
pose less of a threat.
In the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States
had tried to retrieve the at-large Stingers.25 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. helicopters. 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
The practical difficulties of retrieving the weapons had 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 1996,27 an unspecified
number of man-portable surface-to-air missiles (Stingers) remain in Afghanistan.28
There have been no recent reports of any U.S. efforts to recover remaining Stingers.
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
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.
FY1999-FY2002, the United States Humanitarian Demining Program provides about
$3 million per year for Afghanistan demining activities. Most of the funds go to the
HALO Trust, a British organization, and the U.N. Mine Action Program for
Alleviating Human Suffering/Reconstruction
Afghanistan faces major humanitarian problems, some of which have deteriorated
further since Taliban came to power. In addition to 3.6 million Afghan refugees,29
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, and repatriation is
expected to accelerate in spring 2002.
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 are now filtering
back now that the Taliban have surrendered that city. 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 via Uzbekistan and Pakistan have now
opened or reopened.
Women who were impeded from working with relief
organizations during Taliban rule are now resuming their work with these agencies.
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. In 1985, the United States began a
cross-border 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.
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.
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 (FY1978-FY1998), 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
The United States has also indicated it will provide substantial reconstruction
assistance for a post-Taliban Afghanistan. Common estimates of reconstruction
needs run up to about $10 billion. 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 long- term reconstruction and development assistance to the people
of Afghanistan, although no dollar figures are mentioned. A separate bill (H.R. 3427)
would authorize at least $875 million in FY2002-FY2005 for Afghan rehabilitation
and reconstruction, and additional funds for related purposes.
Table 2. U.S. Aid to Afghanistan in FY1999-FY2002
($ in millions)
and USAID Food
For Peace, via
$42.0 worth of wheat
tons) under DOA’s
tons. Of this,
60,000 tons were
for May 2000
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
$7.0 to various
NGO’s to aid
$6.68 for drought
relief and health,
$0.5 in response to
a May 2000 U.N.
appeal to help
$6.169, of which
$3.82 went to
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
Corporation30 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 $2.5 billion Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CentGas) would
originate in southern Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan, with
possible extensions into India.
However, the deterioration in U.S.-Taliban relations since 1998 largely ended
hopes for the pipeline projects while the Taliban was in power. Immediately after the
August 20,1998 U.S. strikes on bin Ladin’s bases in Afghanistan, Unocal suspended
all its Afghan pipeline-related activities, including a U.S.-based training program for
Afghans who were expected to work on the project. With few prospects of improved
U.S. relations with Taliban, Unocal withdrew from its consortium in December 1998.
Saudi Delta Oil was made interim project leader, although Delta lacks the financing
and technology to make the consortium viable. The rival consortium led by Bridas
of Argentina reportedly continues to try to win approval for its proposal to undertake
the project, although virtually no new developments on this project have been
announced over the past few years. Many experts believe this project might be
revived if a stable, internationally-recognized government takes hold in Afghanistan.
Other participants in the Unocal consortium include: Delta of Saudi Arabia, Hyundai of
South Korea, Crescent Steel of Pakistan, Itochu Corporation and INPEX of Japan, and the
government of Turkmenistan. Some accounts say Russia’s Gazprom would probably receive
a stake in the project. Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 30, 1997. Page 3.
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan FY1978-1998
($ 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
U.S. and International Sanctions
According to U.S. diplomats, shoring up a post-Taliban government of
Afghanistan will likely require adjustments to U.S. and U.N. sanctions imposed on
Afghanistan. Many of these sanctions were imposed during Taliban rule, including
a new set of U.S. sanctions imposed in July 1999 and U.N. sanctions imposed in
October 1999. Some believe the sanctions give the United States leverage that can
help bring stable peace to Afghanistan. As currently constituted, 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. U.S. trade with Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan has
been banned since July 1999, although this sanction appears to no longer be operative
now that the Taliban has disintegrated. Sanctions in place include the following:
! 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. 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. 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. Now that the
Taliban controls virtually no territory, the practical effects of the trade ban
apparently will end.
! 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.