Order Code RL30588
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Afghanistan: Current Issues
and U.S. Policy
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
Afghanistan is a fragile state attempting, with substantial U.S. help and
guidance, to stabilize after more than 22 years of warfare, including a U.S.-led war
that brought the current government to power. Before the U.S. military campaign
against the Taliban began on October 7, 2001, Afghanistan had been mired in
conflict since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Taliban ruled most
of Afghanistan from 1996 until its collapse in December 2001 at the hands of the
U.S.-led military campaign.
The defeat of the Taliban enabled the United States and its coalition partners to
send forces throughout Afghanistan to search for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and
leaders that remain at large, including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Since the
fall of the Taliban, Afghan citizens are enjoying new personal freedoms that were
forbidden under the Taliban, about 2 million Afghan refugees have returned, and
women have returned to schools, the workforce, and participation in politics. At the
same time, there is a lack of security in many parts of Afghanistan, particularly the
southeast, which was the power base of the Taliban. Security concerns are widely
believed to be slowing the pace of reconstruction , as is the high degree of autonomy
exercised by regional governors of the various ethnically dominated localities.
On May 1, the United States and the Afghan government declared major U.S.led combat to have ended and that U.S.-led forces would henceforth concentrate on
stabilization. U.S. stabilization measures include training and extending the writ of
the national government, building a new Afghan national army, supporting an
international security force (ISAF), and setting up regional enclaves to create secure
conditions for reconstruction. To help foster development, the United Nations and
the Bush Administration have lifted most sanctions imposed on Afghanistan since
the Soviet occupation. The United States gave Afghanistan a total of over $815
million in aid during FY2002, but aid will rise for FY2003 to about $1.8 billion after
factoring in a new additional ($1 billion) aid package reported in July 2003.
Although with some difficulty, political reconstruction is following the route
laid out by major Afghan factions and the international community during the U.S.led war. On December 5, 2001, major Afghan factions, meeting under U.N. auspices
in Bonn, signed an agreement to form an interim government that ran Afghanistan
until a traditional national assembly (“loya jirga”) was held June 11-19, 2002. The
loya jirga delegates selected a new government to run Afghanistan for the next two
years and approved Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun, to continue as leader for that time , but
the assembly adjourned without establishing a new parliament. Preparations are
proceeding for another loya jirga to approve a new constitution (October 2003) and
then national elections for the leadership and a parliament.
This paper will be updated as warranted by major developments.
Background to Recent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Rise and Reign of The Taliban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Mullah Muhammad Umar/Taliban Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Deterioration of U.S. Relations With the Taliban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Coalescence of the “Northern Alliance” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
General Dostam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Hazara Shiites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Sayyaf Militia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
September 11 Attacks and Operation Enduring Freedom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
War-Related Costs and Casualties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Post-War Stabilization Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Pre-September 11 United Nations Mediation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
The “Six Plus Two” and Geneva Contact Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
King Zahir Shah and the Loya Jirga Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Post-September 11 Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Bonn Conference/Interim Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
The Loya Jirga/Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
New Constitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Expanding Central Government Capabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Ensuring Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
International Security Force (ISAF) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Afghan National Army/Demobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Provincial Reconstruction Teams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Regional Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Central Asian States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Saudi Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Other U.S. Policy Concerns and Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Promoting Human Rights/Equitable Treatment of Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Counternarcotics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Retrieval of U.S. Stingers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Land Mine Eradication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
U.S. Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Post-Taliban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
FY2003 Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Billion Dollar Aid Package . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
FY2004 Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Additional Forms of U.S. Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
International Reconstruction Pledges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Lifting of U.S. and International Sanctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Promoting Long-Term Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Map of Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
List of Tables
U.S. Aid to Afghanistan in FY1999-FY2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
U.S. Aid to Afghanistan, FY2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan FY1978-1998 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Major Factions in Afghanistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Afghanistan: Current Issues
and U.S. Policy
Background to Recent Developments
Afghanistan became unstable in the 1970s as both its Communist Party and its
Islamic movement grew in strength and became increasingly bitter opponents of each
other.1 The instability shattered the relative peace and progress that characterized the
rule of King Mohammad Zahir Shah, who reigned during 1933 - 1973. Zahir Shah
was the last King in Afghanistan’s monarchy, which was founded in 1747 by Ahmad
Shah Durrani. Prior to the founding of the monarchy, Afghanistan did not exist as
a distinct political entity, but was a territory inhabited by tribes and tribal
confederations often linked to neighboring nations. Zahir Shah was the only
surviving son of King Mohammad Nadir Shah (1929-1933), whose rule followed
that of King Amanullah Khan (1919-1929), after a brief rule in 1919 by a Tajik
strongman named Bacha-i-Saqqo. King Amanullah Khan launched attacks on
British forces in Afghanistan shortly after taking power and won complete
independence from Britain as recognized in the Treaty of Rawalpindi (August 8,
1919). He was considered a secular modernizer and who presided over a
government in which all ethnic minorities participated.
Zahir Shah is remembered fondly by many older Afghans for promulgating a
constitution in 1964 that established a national legislature and promoting freedoms
for women, including freeing them from the veil. However, possibly believing that
doing so would enable him to limit Soviet support for communist factions in
Afghanistan, Zahir Shah also entered into a significant political and arms purchase
relationship with the Soviet Union.
While undergoing medical treatment in Italy, Zahir Shah was overthrown by his
cousin, Mohammad Daoud, a military leader. Daoud established a dictatorship
characterized by strong state control over the economy. After taking power in 1978
by overthrowing Daoud, the communists, first under Nur Mohammad Taraki and
then under Hafizullah Amin (leader of a rival communist faction who overthrew
Taraki in 1979), attempted to impose radical socialist change on a traditional society.
The communists tried to redistribute land and bring more women into government
positions. These moves spurred recruitment for Islamic parties and their militias
opposed to communist ideology. The Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan on
December 27, 1979 to prevent a seizure of power by the Islamic-oriented militias
For more information, see CRS Report RL31389, Afghanistan: Challenges and Options
for Reconstructing a Stable and Moderate State, by Richard Cronin; and CRS Report
RL31759, Reconstruction Assistance in Afghanistan: Goals, Priorities, and Issues for
Congress, by Rhoda Margesson.
that later became known as “mujahedin”2 (Islamic fighters), and thereby keep
Afghanistan pro-Soviet. Upon their invasion, the Soviets ousted Hafizullah Amin
and installed its local ally, Babrak Karmal, as Afghan president.
After the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed mujahedin fought them
effectively, and Soviet occupation forces were never able to pacify all areas of the
country. The Soviets held major cities, but the outlying mountainous regions
remained largely under mujahedin control. The mujahedin benefitted from U.S.
weapons and assistance, provided through the Central Intelligence Agency, working
closely with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate (ISI). That weaponry
included man-portable shoulder-fired anti-aircraft systems called “Stingers,” which
proved highly effective against Soviet aircraft. The Islamic guerrillas also hid and
stored 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 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 the Afghan mujahedin 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.3
The term refers to an Islamic guerrilla; literally “one who fights in the cause of Islam.”
See “Country Fact Sheet: Afghanistan,” in U.S. Department of State Dispatch. Volume
5, No. 23, June 6, 1994. Page 377.
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 gov ernment,
including that of Uzbek militia
commander Abdul Rashid
Dostam (see below).
27.7 million (July 2002 est.)
Pashtun 44%; Tajik 25%;
Uzbek 8%; Hazara 10%; others
Sunni Muslim 84%; Shiite
Muslim 15%; other 1%
GDP Per Capita:
$5.5 billion (1996 est.)
fruits, nuts, carpets, semiprecious gems
food, petroleum, capital goods
Joining with the defectors,
Source: CIA World Factbook, 2002.
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 preventing the Soviets from
occupying his power base in the Panjshir Valley of northeastern Afghanistan. After
failing to flee, Najibullah, his brother, and a few aides remained at a U.N. facility in
Kabul until the Taliban movement later seized control and hanged them.
The fall of 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, Burhannudin 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 monopolizing power. His government faced daily
shelling from another mujahedin commander, Pakistan-backed Gulbuddin
Hikmatyar, a radical Islamic fundamentalist who headed a faction of Hizb-e-Islami
(Islamic Party) and who was nominally the Prime Minister. Four years (1992-1996)
of civil war among the mujahedin followed, destroying much of Kabul and creating
popular support for the Taliban. (Hikmatyar was later ousted by the Taliban from
his powerbase around Jalalabad despite sharing the Taliban’s ideology and Pashtun
ethnicity, and he fled to Iran before returning to Afghanistan in early 2002.)
The Rise and Reign of The Taliban
The Taliban movement was formed in 1993-1994 by Afghan Islamic clerics and
students, many of them former mujahedin who had become disillusioned with
continued internal conflict and moved into the western areas of Pakistan to study in
Islamic seminaries (“madrassas”). They were mostly ultra-orthodox Sunni Muslims
who practice a form of Islam, “Wahhabism,” similar to that practiced in Saudi
Arabia. The Taliban was composed overwhelmingly of 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
members viewed the Rabbani government as corrupt, responsible for continued civil
war and the deterioration of security in the major cities, and exclusive of the Pashtun
majority. With the help of defections by sympathetic mujahedin fighters, the Taliban
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 had 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 to the withdrawal of the Rabbani government to the Panjshir Valley north
of Kabul with most of its heavy weapons; the Taliban took control of Kabul on
September 27, 1996.
The Taliban lost much of its international support as its policies unfolded. It
imposed strict adherence to Islamic customs in areas it controls, and used harsh
punishments, including executions, on transgressors. The Taliban regime made
extensive use of its Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of
Vice, a force of religious police officers that often used violence and physical
punishments to enforce Islamic laws and customs . It banned television, popular
music, and dancing, and required males to wear beards. It prohibited women from
attending school or working outside the home, except in health care.
Several U.N. Security Council resolutions, including 1193 (August 28, 1998)
and 1214 (December 8, 1998), urged the Taliban to end discrimination against
women, although without success. 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 altered its treatment of women. On
May 5, 1999, the Senate passed S.Res. 68, a resolution calling on the President not
to recognize any Afghan government that discriminates against women.
In what most consider one of its most extreme excesses, in March 2001 the
Taliban ordered the destruction of two large Buddha statues, dating to the 7th century.
The Taliban claimed it ordered the destruction of the statues, which it considered unIslamic, after representatives of the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) offered to fund preservation of the statues. Others believe
the move was a reaction to U.N. sanctions imposed in December 2000 (see below).
The destruction provoked widespread condemnation, even among other Islamic
states, including Pakistan. Some international groups are looking at the possibility
of rebuilding the statues, although at least one group has said doing so will be
extremely difficult technically.
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, 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, 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 Laden and was adamantly opposed to meeting U.S. demands to hand him over
to face justice. Born in Uruzgan province, Umar is about 54 years old. His ten year
old son, as well as his stepfather, reportedly died at the hands of U.S. airstrikes in
early October 2001. Umar, having reportedly fled Qandahar city when the Taliban
surrendered the city on December 9, 2001, is still at large.
Deterioration of U.S. Relations With the Taliban
The Clinton Administration diplomatically engaged the Taliban movement as
it was gathering strength, but U.S. relations with the Taliban deteriorated sharply
during the 5 years that the Taliban were in power in Kabul, to the point where the
United States and the Taliban were largely adversaries well before the September 11
attacks. Clinton Administration officials say that they did not consider all-out U.S.
military action to oust the Taliban from power because domestic U.S. support for that
step, prior to the September 11 attacks, was lacking. Despite the deterioration,
Clinton Administration officials including Assistant Secretary of State for South
Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth met periodically with Taliban officials. At the same
time, the United States withheld recognition of Taliban as the legitimate government
of Afghanistan, formally recognizing no faction as the government. On the basis of
the lack of broad international recognition of Taliban, the United Nations seated
representatives of the former Rabbani government, not the Taliban. The United
States closed its embassy in Kabul in January 1989, just after the Soviet pullout from
Afghanistan, and the State Department ordered the Afghan embassy in Washington,
D.C., closed in August 1997 because of a power struggle within it between Rabbani
and Taliban supporters.
Well before the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Taliban’s alliance with Al
Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had become the Clinton Administration’s overriding
bilateral agenda item in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan. 4 After the August 7, 1998,
Al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clinton
Administration placed progressively more pressure on the Taliban to extradite bin
Laden, adding sanctions, some military action, reported covert intelligence
operations, and the threat of further punishments to ongoing diplomatic efforts.
During his April 1998 visit to Afghanistan, Ambassador Richardson
asked the Taliban to hand bin Laden over to U.S. authorities, but he
On August 20, 1998, the United States fired cruise missiles at
alleged bin Laden-controlled terrorist training camps in retaliation
for the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
For more information on bin Laden 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.
On July 4, 1999, because of the Taliban’s hosting of bin Laden,
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. (President George W. Bush revoked
Executive Order 13129 on the grounds that the Taliban government
has been dismantled.)
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
banned flights outside Afghanistan by Ariana airlines, and directed
U.N. member states to freeze Taliban assets.
On December 19, 2000, again by combining diplomatic forces with
Russia, the United States achieved adoption of U.N. Security
Council Resolution 1333, a follow-on to Resolution 1267. The
major additional provisions of the Resolution included: (1) 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; (2) a call for all countries to reduce the size of or close
Taliban representative missions in their countries; (3) a requirement
that all countries freeze any bin Laden/Al Qaeda assets that could be
identified; (4) a prohibition on any supply to areas under Taliban
control of the chemical acetic anhydride, which is used to produce
heroin; and (5) a ban on foreign travel by all Taliban officials at or
above the rank of Deputy Minister, except in humanitarian
circumstances. On July 30, 2001, the U.N. Security Council adopted
Resolution 1363, providing for the stationing of monitors in Pakistan
to ensure that no weapons or military advice was being provided by
the Taliban. (In the aftermath of the Taliban’s ouster from power,
these provisions were narrowed to focus on Al Qaeda, and not the
Taliban, by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1390 of January 17,
Although press reports in May 2002 said the Bush Administration was
considering, prior to the September 11 attacks, a plan to try to destabilize the Taliban,
the Bush Administration maintained dialogue with the Taliban. 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 the Al Qaeda camps, although the purpose of the visit was
described as assessing the humanitarian needs and not furthering U.S.-Taliban
As did the executive branch, Congress became highly critical of the Taliban well
before the September 11 attacks. 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. A similar resolution, H.Con.Res. 218,
passed the House on April 28, 1998.
After September 11, legislative proposals became significantly more adversarial
toward the Taliban. One bill, H.R. 3088, stated that it should be the policy of the
United States to remove the Taliban from power and authorized 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),
established a “Radio Free Afghanistan” broadcasting service under RFE/RL. On
February 12, 2002, the House passed the Senate version of H.R. 2998 providing $17
million funding for the radio broadcasts for FY2002. President Bush signed the bill
into law on March 11, 2002 (P.L. 107-148).
Coalescence of the “Northern Alliance”
The rise of the Taliban movement, its imposition of puritanical Islamic rule, and
its alliance with bin Laden not only alienated the United States but caused other
Afghan power centers to make common cause with ousted President Rabbani and
commander Ahmad Shah Masud. These opposition groups allied into a “Northern
Alliance” shortly after Kabul fell to the Taliban in 1996. The Persian-speaking,
mainly ethnic Tajik core of the Northern Alliance was located not only in the Panjshir
Valley of the northeast but also in western Afghanistan near the Iranian border. The
fighters in the west were generally loyal to the charismatic Ismail Khan, who
regained the governorship of his former stronghold in Herat and surrounding
provinces after the Taliban collapse of mid-November 2001.
General Dostam. One non-Tajik component of the Northern Alliance was
the ethnic Uzbek militia force (the Junbush-Melli, or National Islamic Movement
of Afghanistan) of General Abdul Rashid Dostam. Uzbeks constitute about 6% of
the population, compared with 25% that are Tajik. Dostam was best known for his
break with Najibullah in early 1992, the key defection that paved the way for the
overthrow of the Najibullah regime. He subsequently fought against Rabbani during
his presidency in an effort to persuade him to yield power , but Dostam later joined
the Northern Alliance after the Taliban took power in Kabul. Dostam once
commanded about 25,000 troops, significant amounts of armor and combat aircraft,
and even some Scud missiles, but infighting within his faction left him unable to hold
off Taliban forces. The Taliban captured his power base in August 1998, leaving him
in control of only small areas of northern Afghanistan near the border with
Uzbekistan. During the U.S.-led war against the Taliban, he, in concert with a Tajik
commander Atta Mohammad and a Shiite Hazara commander Mohammad
Mohaqqiq, recaptured Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taliban. There have been tensions
among the three in governing the city and its environs since, often resulting in minor
clashes. Clashes in July 2002 necessitated mediation by the U.N. personnel in
Afghanistan (UNAMA, U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan).
Hazara Shiites. Shiite Muslim parties composed mainly of members of
Hazara tribes were generally less active against the Soviet occupation than were the
Sunni parties and joined the anti-Taliban opposition. The Hazaras are prominent in
central Afghanistan, particularly Bamiyan Province. The main Shiite Muslim party
is Hizb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party, an alliance of eight Hazara tribe Shiite Muslim
groups), which was part of Rabbani’s government for most of his rule during 19921996. Hizb-e-Wahdat has traditionally received some material support from Iran,
whose population practices Shiism and has an affinity for the Hazaras. Hizb-eWahdat forces occasionally retook Bamiyan city from the Taliban but were unable
to hold it, until the Taliban collapse of November 2001 in the U.S.-led war.
Sayyaf Militia. Another mujahedin party leader, Abd-i-Rab Rasul Sayyaf,
heads a Pashtun-dominated 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 interpretation of Sunni Islam. This interpretation (“Wahhabism”)
was also shared by the Taliban, which partly explains why many of Sayyaf’s fighters
originally defected to the Taliban movement when that movement was taking power.
Although he is a Pashtun, Sayyaf was allied with the Northern Alliance and placed
his forces at Alliance disposal. Sayyaf is considered personally close to Rabbani and
is reputedly maneuvering in concert with Rabbani for a future leadership role.
September 11 Attacks and Operation Enduring Freedom
The political rivalries among opposition groups hindered their ability to shake
the Taliban’s grip on power. In the few years prior to the beginning of the U.S.-led
war, the opposition steadily lost ground, even in areas outside Taliban’s Pashtun
ethnic base. By the time of the war, 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, two days before the September 11 attacks that
led to the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, when Northern Alliance military leader
Ahmad Shah Masud was assassinated at his headquarters by suicide bombers
allegedly linked to Al Qaeda. His successor was his intelligence chief, General
Muhammad Fahim, who is a veteran commander but lacked the authority or charisma
The United States decided to go to war against the Taliban regime when the
Taliban, immediately after the September 11 attacks, refused a U.S. demand to
extradite Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, strongly suspected by the
Administration of authorizing the September 11 attacks. The Bush Administration
decided that a friendly regime in Kabul was needed to create the conditions under
which U.S. forces could battle and search for Al Qaeda activists in Afghanistan. The
U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001 (Operation Enduring
Freedom). The campaign consisted of U.S. airstrikes on Taliban and Al Qaeda
forces, coupled with targeting by U.S. special operations forces working in
Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban forces. Taliban
control of the north collapsed first, followed by its control of southern Afghanistan,
which it progressively lost to pro-U.S. Pashtun forces, such as those of Hamid
Karzai, who is now President. Karzai, the 47-year-old leader of the powerful
Popolzai tribe of Pashtuns, had entered Afghanistan in October 2001 to organize
Pashtun resistance to the Taliban, and he was supported in that effort by U.S. special
forces. By the time the Taliban had been defeated, Northern Alliance forces
controlled about 70% of Afghanistan, including Kabul, which they captured on
November 12, 2001. Groups of Pashtun commanders took control of cities and
provinces in the east and south. One example is Ghul Agha Shirzai, now the
governor of Qandahar province and environs.
Despite the overwhelming defeat of the Taliban, small Taliban and Al Qaeda
groups reportedly continue to operate throughout Afghanistan. The United States has
about 9,000 troops in and around Afghanistan, and coalition forces are contributing
another 2,000 to Operation Enduring Freedom. (Other countries are contributing an
additional 4,600 to the separate International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), as
discussed below.) The United States and its Afghan allies conducted “Operation
Anaconda” in the Shah-i-Kot Valley south of Gardez during March 2 - 19, 2002, to
eliminate a pocket of as many as 800 Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. In late March
2003, about 1,000 U.S. troops launched a raid on suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda
fighters in villages around Qandahar. During a visit to Afghanistan on May 1, 2003,
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Afghan president Karzai said that major combat
operations have ended. In early May 2003, outgoing commander of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Dan McNeil, said security is improving and that the United
States might be able to begin drawing down its forces in Afghanistan in 2004. 5
Nonetheless, a perception of insecurity remains, as noted below, and small
engagements continue to take place with armed groups conducting occasional rocket
and small arms attacks on U.S., Afghan, international security force, and other
targets. On June 7, 2003, a suicide bomber killed four German soldiers serving with
Among the ongoing military missions, U.S. Special Operations Forces continue
to hunt in Afghanistan and over the border into Pakistan for bin Laden. He escaped
the U.S.-Afghan offensive against the Al Qaeda stronghold of Tora Bora in eastern
Afghanistan in December 2001, but fresh reports of his possible location reportedly
surfaced after the arrest on March 2, 2003, of top Al Qaeda planner Khalid Shaikh
Mohammed. U.S. forces are also continuing to try to locate and combat forces loyal
to former mujahedin leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (see above). Hikmatyar has allied
with and tried to rally Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants against U.S. forces and the
Karzai government. On February 19, 2003, the U.S. government formally designated
Hikmatyar as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” under the authority of
Executive Order 13224. That order subjected named terrorists and terrorist-related
institutions to financial and other U.S. sanctions. His group, “Hizb-e-Islami
Gulbuddin” was analyzed in the section on “other terrorist groups” in the State
Department’s report on international terrorism for 2002, released April 30, 2003.
However, the group is not formally designated as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
War-Related Costs and Casualties. No reliable Afghan casualty figures
for the war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda have been announced, but estimates by
researchers of Afghan civilian deaths generally cite figures of “several hundred”
civilian deaths. On July 1, 2002, a U.S. airstrike on suspected Taliban leaders in
Uruzgan Province, the home province of Taliban head Mullah Umar, mistakenly
Kraul, Chris. Troops Could Leave Afghanistan in 2004. Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2003.
killed about 40 civilians. As of June 2003, about 45 U.S. service persons have been
killed in the Afghanistan theater of Operation Enduring Freedom, including from
enemy fire, friendly fire, and non-hostile deaths (accidents). Of coalition forces, 4
Canadian and 1 Australian military personnel were killed in hostile circumstances.
In addition, according to CENTCOM, there have been ten U.S. deaths in the
Philippines theater of Operation Enduring Freedom (operations against the Al Qaedaaffiliated Abu Sayyaf organization), all of which resulted from a helicopter crash.
Incremental costs of U.S. operations in Afghanistan appear to be relatively
stable. The Defense Department comptroller Dov Zakheim said in early 2003 that
the incremental costs of U.S. operations in Afghanistan are running about $900
million to $1 billion per month. About $13 billion in incremental costs were incurred
Post-War Stabilization Efforts
The war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban paved the way for a pre-existing
U.N. effort to form a broad-based Afghan government. The government appears
stable at the national level, but major tensions still exist between the central
government and the local governors of the various ethnic regions. In many respects,
this “center-periphery” tension has existed throughout Afghan history.
Pre-September 11 United Nations Mediation. For the 8 years prior to
the U.S.-led war, the United States worked primarily through the United Nations to
end the Afghan civil conflict , because the international body was viewed as a credible
mediator by all sides. It was the forum used for ending the Soviet occupation.
However, some observers criticized U.S. policy as being insufficiently engaged in
Afghan mediation to bring about a settlement. After the fall of Najibullah in 1992,
a succession of U.N. mediators — former Tunisian Foreign Minister Mahmoud
Mestiri (March 1994-July 1996); German diplomat Norbert Holl (July 1996December 1997); and Algeria’s former Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi (August
1997-October 1999) — sought to arrange a ceasefire and a peaceful transition to a
broad-based government. The proposed process for arranging a transition
incorporated many ideas of former King Zahir Shah and other experts, in which a
government was to be chosen through a traditional Afghan selection process - the
holding of a 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 always broke down. Brahimi suspended his activities
in frustration in October 1999 . Another U.N. mediator, Spanish diplomat Fransesc
Vendrell, was appointed.
The “Six Plus Two” and Geneva Contact Groups. In coordination with
direct U.N. mediation efforts, the “Six Plus Two” contact group began meeting in
early 1997; the group consisted of the United States, Russia, and the six states
bordering Afghanistan: Iran, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan. The group was created following 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 that had been
already in place less formally. 6) In 2000, possibly because of the lack of progress by
the Six Plus Two, another contact group began meeting in Geneva, and with more
frequency than the Six Plus Two. The Geneva grouping included Italy, Germany,
Iran, and the United States. Another Afghan-related grouping multilateral mediating
grouping consisted of some Islamic countries operating under the 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. During the period of
Taliban rule, the United States also supported initiatives coming from Afghans
inside Afghanistan and in exile. 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
(“Rome Grouping”), where the former King lived. A third grouping, calling itself
the “Cyprus Process,” consisted of former Afghan officials and other Afghan exiles
generally sympathetic to Iran, including a relative of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar.
Post-September 11 Efforts. 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 2001, Brahimi was
brought back as the U.N. representative to help arrange an alternative government,
an effort that, it was hoped, would encourage defections within Taliban ranks and
hasten its demise. 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.
Bonn Conference /Interim Government. Many of the hopes for a postTaliban government at first appeared to center on the former King. 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, neither the King’s representatives nor those of the Northern
Alliance attended the gathering, instead airing suspicions that the meeting was
orchestrated by Pakistan for its own ends.
In late November 2001, after Kabul had fallen on November 12, 2001, delegates
of the major Afghan factions — most prominently the Northern Alliance and
representatives of the former King — gathered in Bonn, Germany, at the invitation
of the United Nations. The Taliban was not invited. On December 5, 2001, the
factions signed an agreement to form a 30-member interim administration to govern
until the holding in June 2002 of a loya jirga, to be opened by the former King. The
loya jirga would then choose a new government to run Afghanistan for the next two
years until a new constitution is drafted and national elections held . The loya jirga
also would establish a 111-member parliament. According to the Bonn agreement,
Federal Register, Volume 61, No. 125, June 27, 1996. Page 33313.
the new government was to operate under the constitution of 1964 until a new
constitution is adopted. The last loya jirga that was widely recognized as legitimate
was held in 1964 to ratify a constitution. Communist leader Najibullah convened a
loya jirga in 1987 largely to approve his policies; that gathering was widely viewed
by Afghans as illegitimate.
The Bonn agreement also provided for an international peace keeping force to
maintain security, at least in Kabul. Northern Alliance forces were to withdraw from
Kabul, according to the Bonn agreement, but forces under the command of Defense
Minister Fahim have remain garrisoned there. The Bonn conference’s conclusions
were endorsed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1385 (December 6, 2001), and
the international peacekeeping force was authorized by Security Council Resolution
1386, adopted December 20, 2001. (For text, see the U.N. website’s related page at
At the Bonn conference, Hamid Karzai was selected chairman of the interim
administration, which governed as of December 22, 2001 . Karzai presided over a
cabinet in which a slight majority (17 out of 30) of the positions were held by the
Northern Alliance, with this block holding the key posts of Defense (Mohammad
Fahim), Foreign Affairs (Dr. Abdullah Abdullah), and Interior (Yunus Qanuni). The
three are ethnic Tajiks, with the exception of Dr. Abdullah, who is half Tajik and half
Pashtun. This trio, all of whom are in their late 40s, were close aides to Ahmad Shah
Masud and were considered generally well disposed toward the United States.
The Loya Jirga/Elections. In late January 2002, the 21 members of the
commission, including two women, were chosen to prepare for the loya jirga. In
preparation for the assembly, the former King returned to Afghanistan on April 18,
2002, and he conducted meetings with Afghan notables and local leaders. By the
beginning of June, 381 districts of Afghanistan had chosen the 1,550 delegates to the
loya jirga. About two hundred of the delegates were women.
At the loya jirga, which began June 11, 2002, the former King and
Burhannudin Rabbani immediately withdrew from leadership consideration and
endorsed Karzai to continue as Afghanistan’s leader. On June 13, 2002, by an
overwhelming margin, the loya jirga selected Karzai to lead Afghanistan until
national elections to be held June 2004. On its last day, June 19, 2002, the assembly
approved Karzai’s new cabinet, which included three vice presidents and several
“presidential advisors” in an effort to balance the ethnic and factional composition
of the government.
In the cabinet endorsed by the 2002 loya jirga, Karzai moved Yunus Qanooni
to head the Ministry of Education and serve as an adviser on security. He was
replaced as Interior Minister by Taj Mohammad Wardak, a Pashtun, although he was
eventually replaced by Ali Jalali. Abdullah and Fahim retained their positions, with
Fahim acquiring the additional title of vice president.
Other notable changes to the government made by the loya jirga include the
Ashraf Ghani replaced Hedayat Amin Arsala as Finance Minister
(see below). Ghani is a Pashtun with ties to international financial
institutions and is well respected in international financial circles.
His ministry is widely considered Afghanistan’s most efficient and
Habiba Sorabi replaced the somewhat outspoken Sima Samar as
Minister of Women’s Affairs.
Hajji Abdul Qadir, a Pashtun, who was also governor of Nangahar
Province, switched portfolios to head the Ministry of Public Works
and was appointed a vice president. However, Abdul Qadir was
assassinated by unknown gunmen on July 6. Hedayat Amin Arsala
was appointed a Vice President to replace Qadir. Arsala, a former
World Bank official, is a supporter of the former King and a relative
of Pir Ahmad Gaylani, leader of a pro-King mujahedin faction
during the anti-Soviet war.
The third vice president appointed was Karim Khalili, the leader of
a faction of the Hazara Shiite party Hizb-e-Wahdat.
Herat leader Ismail Khan was given no formal post; he preferred to
remain in his locality rather than take a position in the central
government in Kabul. His son, Mir Wais Saddiq was retained in the
new cabinet to head the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
General Dostam was given no formal post, although he served as
deputy Defense Minister in the first interim administration. Dostam
said in early August 2002 that he prefers to remain in his northern
stronghold rather than accept a post that would bring him to Kabul.
However, in May 2003, he was appointed an adviser to Karzai for
military affairs as part of Karzai’s efforts to rein in regional leaders.
A national security council was formed as an advisory body to
Karzai. The intention in establishing this council is to increase
Kabul’s decisionmaking power and extend central government
influence. The national security adviser is Zalmai Rasool.
The loya jirga adjourned without establishing the new parliament; a group of
experts remained in Kabul to continue working on the parliament. The experts have
reportedly decided to recommend formation of a 93-member national assembly, with
no party affiliations represented, to be elected during the June 2004 national
elections. In late July 2003, Karzai created a joint Afghan-U.N. committee (with
U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to organize the elections. The
move came amid speculation that election preparation had fallen behind and that the
elections might be delayed.
New Constitution. A 35-member constitutional commission, appointed in
October 2002, has drafted a new constitution, which was presented to Karzai in late
March 2003 and is to be unveiled publicly on September 1, 2003. It is to be formally
discussed and presumably adopted at a “constitutional loya jirga” in October 2003.
According to some reports, the draft constitution sets up a governmental structure
with a powerful presidency, a relatively weaker prime ministership, and a parliament,
all elected roughly at four-year intervals. 7 If those reports are true, they would
suggest that the drafters of the constitution favor a strong central government. If the
constitution were to instead set up a powerful parliament, that might suggest that the
balance of power would shift more to the regions and the regional governors who
would be in a position to achieve election to parliament of their supporters.
Expanding Central Government Capabilities. The Bush Administration
says that the Kabul government is slowly expanding its authority and its capabilities.
However, the regional governors continue to exercise substantial power. In early
November 2002, Karzai fired 15 provincial officials, partly in an attempt to establish
the primacy of the central government, although many remain at their jobs. That
same month, police in Kabul suppressed student riots at Kabul University; they were
protesting poor dormitory facilities. In May 2003, Karzai threatened to resign if the
regional governors did not remit some of their privately collected tax revenue to the
central government. Twelve regional leaders signed a pledge to do so, and observers
say that regional leaders subsequently remitted $85 million to Kabul, as of late July
2003. Kabul is expected to raise $200 million of its $600 million budget for 2003,
the rest to be provided by international donors. Obtaining control over tax flows is
key if Kabul is to accomplish that goal. Karzai has sought to reassure international
donors by establishing a transparent budget and planning process. On October 13,
2002, international donors applauded Afghanistan’s budgetary and reconstruction
The national airline, Ariana, also has resumed operations. On March 23, 2002,
schools reopened following the Persian/Afghan new year (Nowruz). Girls returned
to the schools for the first time since the Taliban came to power, and a total of 3
million children have returned to school since the fall of the Taliban. U.S.
intelligence is advising the Afghan National Security Directorate to help it build its
capabilities to monitor threats to the new government.8
Since the establishment of the interim government, several countries have
reopened embassies in Kabul, including the United States. In conjunction with the
formation of the interim administration, NSC official Zalmay Khalilzad was
appointed a special envoy to Afghanistan in December 2001 and has made several
extended visits there. In late March 2002, a U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Robert
Finn, was sworn in Kabul. The new Afghan government reopened the Afghan
embassy in Washington and a new ambassador, U.S.-educated and U.S.-based energy
Pitman, Todd. Afghanistan’s Future Being Written in New Constitution. Associated
Press, April 3, 2003.
Kaufman, Marc. U.S. role Shifts as Afghanistan Founders. Washington Post, April 14,
entrepreneur Ishaq Shahryar, took office, although he is in the process of being
replaced as of July 2003.
Much of the U.S. program for Afghanistan is intended to ensure security
throughout Afghanistan, considered a necessary pre-condition for reconstruction and
development. The pillars of this effort are (1) operations by U.S. and other coalition
forces in Afghanistan, discussed above; (2) the presence of the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF); (3) the formation of “provincial reconstruction teams; and
(4) the establishment and training of an Afghan National Army. Fears of terrorism
and instability have been present since the fall of the Taliban, but these concerns
increased significantly on September 5, 2002; that day, there was a car bombing in
a crowded marketplace in Kabul, and an assassination attempt against President
Karzai. Karzai was unhurt and the assailant, a member of the security detail, was
killed by U.S. special forces who serve as Karzai’s protection unit. Afghan officials
blamed Taliban/Al Qaeda remnants for both events. Employees of a private U.S.
security contractor (Dyncorp) have taken over the Afghan leadership protection effort
as of November 2002.
A section of the House version of the FY2004 foreign aid authorization bill
(H.R. 1950) calls on the Bush Administration to step up U.S. efforts to ensure
security in Afghanistan. The House version of the bill contains a provision calling
on the Administration to increase its efforts to strengthen the central government in
Kabul. The “findings” section of the provision asserts that the U.S.-led
reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is in jeopardy because of a lack of security
throughout Afghanistan and the limited writ of the U.S.-backed central government
in Kabul. The provision, no equivalent of which is contained in the Senate version,
calls for expanding the mandate and capabilities of an international peacekeeping
force, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and augmentation of the
amount of force devoted to U.S.-led “provincial reconstruction teams” (local
groupings of U.S. and other forces and aid workers designed to promote the climate
International Security Force (ISAF). The International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF), created by the Bonn agreement, has reached its agreed strength of
about 4,600. It was headed until December 20, 2002, by Turkey, which replaced
Britain as the lead force following the loya jirga. Germany and the Netherlands
assumed command as of February 2003. The current commander is Lt. General
Norbert Van Heyst of Germany. NATO is expected to take over command of the
force, perhaps for the duration of ISAF’s existence, in August 2003. Placing ISAF
under a NATO leadership could relieve the previous difficulties in recruiting
governments to volunteer to head the force. The force is operating in conjunction
with Afghan security forces in Kabul and is coordinating, to an extent, with U.S.
military forces in and immediately around Afghanistan.
As of July 2003, ISAF has forces from 29 countries, with approximate force
donations (if known) as noted: Albania (about 15), Austria (70), Azerbaijan,
Belgium, Bulgaria (32), Canada (1,800 when NATO takes over), Croatia (about 15),
Denmark (36), Estonia (about 15), Finland (30), France (500), Germany (2,300, but
will be reduced when NATO takes over), Greece (about 150), Hungary, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy (400), Latvia (about 15), Lithuania (about 15), Macedonia (about 15),
the Netherlands (225), New Zealand (10), Norway (about 15), Romania (155), Spain
(300), Sweden (38), Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (426).
Because of several threats to Afghanistan’s internal security since the interim
government was constituted, Afghan officials want ISAF to be expanded and deploy
to other major cities. The Bush Administration continues to favor its alternative plan
to build an Afghan national army rather than expand ISAF, but the Administration
has expressed support for an expansion if enough troops are contributed to it. The
Bush Administration also reportedly sees the provincial reconstruction teams,
discussed below, as a response to the limitations of ISAF. No countries have thus far
pledged enough additional troops that would allow for the expansion of ISAF beyond
Afghan National Army/Demobilization. U.S. Special Operations Forces,
with some participation from French and British forces, are training the new national
army. The first 4,500 Afghan recruits completed training in May 2003. In early
December 2002, the recruits began training as a battalion, according to the Defense
Department, and deployed to eastern Afghanistan to fight alongside U.S. and
coalition forces. They performed well, by all accounts, and were welcomed by the
local population as a symbol of a unified future for Afghanistan. In late July, the
National Army launched its first combat operation on its own, a sweep (“Operation
Warrior Sweep”) in southeastern Afghanistan against suspected Islamic militants.
The operation came after several small attacks by suspected Taliban remnants in that
region. Observers say the Afghan National Army is beginning to become a major
force in stabilizing the country.
Afghan officials say the desired size of the army is 70,000, a level that will
likely not be reached for several more years, at the current rate of U.S.-led training.
The Department of Defense envisions training about 9,000 Afghan troops by the end
of 2004, according to U.S. military officials. 9 Training has begun for a heavy
brigade as part of a “Kabul Corps” to be based just east of Kabul. Thus far,
weaponry for the national army has come primarily from Defense Ministry weapons
stocks, with the concurrence of Defense Minister Fahim who controls those stocks.
The United States plans to provide some additional U.S. arms and/or defense services
to the national army, according to statements by U.S. officials. In November 2002,
at U.S. urging, Albania sent surplus light weaponry to the national army, and as of
July 2003, about $80 million in in-kind contributions of equipment and other services
has been donated by other countries to the building of the Afghan National Army. 10
There has been some concern that Vice President/Defense Minister General
Fahim opposes the formation of a national army as a potential threat to his power
base. However, after visits and discussions with U.S. officials, he now reportedly
Briefing Slides Prepared by the National Defense University, Institute for National
Strategic Studies, for J-5 of the Department of Defense Joint Staff. June 2002.
Report to Congress Consistent With the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002, July
accepts that army and has been cooperating in its development. There had been
reports, at the time the United States first began establishing the new army, that
Fahim was weighting recruitment for the national army toward his Tajik ethnic base.
Many Pashtuns, in reaction, refused recruitment or left the national army program.
U.S. officials say this problem has been alleviated recently with somewhat better pay
and more involvement by U.S. special forces. 11 Fully trained recruits are paid about
$70 per month.
At the same time, Japan and the United Nations (UNAMA) are leading the
international effort to demobilize up to 100,000 private militiamen by channeling
them into alternate employment. Reducing the number and size of private militias
around Afghanistan would have the effect of undercutting the military strength of the
regional governors relative to the central government. However, the program has
been off to a slow start because the Afghan Defense Ministry did not enact mandated
reforms (primarily reduction of the number of Tajiks in senior positions) by the
targeted July 1, 2003, date. In late July 2003, Karzai announced that the ministry
reforms would soon begin, paving the way for the beginning of the demobilization
A related U.S. concern is that Fahim has not withdrawn his Northern Alliance
(mostly Tajik) forces from Kabul. U.S. officials have said they are trying to persuade
Fahim to pull the forces he controls out of Kabul, as required in the Bonn agreement,
with the ultimate goal to incorporate these forces into one unified national army. At
the same time, Fahim and Northern Alliance forces appear to be available for use by
Karzai; in August 2002, prior to the formation of the Afghan National Army, Karzai
threatened to send Afghan central government forces to combat a rebellious local
leader in Paktia province, Padsha Khan Zadran, but no fighting ensued.
Provincial Reconstruction Teams. As the frequency and intensity of
combat has decreased since early 2002, the U.S. military has increasingly focused its
operations on ensuring political stability and fostering secure conditions for
reconstruction. In mid-December 2002, the Defense Department said it would work
to create secure conditions for aid workers by forming eight “Provincial
Reconstruction Teams” (PRTs) composed of U.S. forces, Defense Department civil
affairs officers, representatives of U.S. aid and other agencies, and allied personnel.
Thus far, Italy has volunteered personnel to work with the teams.
The objective of the PRTs is to provide safe havens for international aid workers
to help with reconstruction and to extend the writ of the Kabul government
throughout Afghanistan. Three PRTs, each with about 60 U.S. military personnel,
have begun operations at Gardez, Bamiyan, and Konduz. By the end of 2003, teams
are expected to be formed in Mazar Sharif, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, and Parwan.
The PRT program is expected to spend about $38 million per year for operations and
reconstruction costs. Karzai visited Britain in early June 2003 to discuss mutual
issues, and Britain announced it would sent 60-70 of its troops to establish the
planned PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif.
Gall, Carlotta. In a Remote Corner, an Afghan Army Evolves From Fantasy to Slightly
Ragged Reality. New York Times, January 25, 2003.
The creation of the PRTs appeared intended, in part, to deflect criticism that the
United States is paying insufficient attention to reconstruction and as an alternative
to expanding ISAF (see below). Press reports say that aid agencies have felt more
secure since the PRT program began, fostering reconstruction activity in areas of
PRT operations, 12 although some relief workers dispute that assessment and say they
still feel too insecure to expand their work in certain parts of Afghanistan.
Regional Context 13
Even before September 11, several of Afghanistan’s neighbors were becoming
alarmed about threats to their own security interests emanating from Afghanistan.
All of these governments endorsed the Bonn agreement, but some experts believe
that the neighboring governments are attempting, to varying degrees, to manipulate
Afghanistan’s factions and its political structure to their advantage. On December
23, 2002, Afghanistan and its six neighbors signed a non-interference pledge (Kabul
Pakistan ended its support for the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11,
2001 attacks. Pakistan initially saw the Taliban movement as an instrument with
which to fulfill its goals in Afghanistan: an Afghan central government strong
enough to prevent fragmentation of Afghanistan while at the same time sufficiently
friendly and pliable to provide Pakistan strategic depth against rival India. In the
wake of the Soviet pullout in 1989, Pakistan was 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
Pakistan 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. Prior to the September 11
attacks, the government of General Pervez Musharraf, who took power in an
October 1999 coup, resisted U.S. pressure to forcefully intercede with the Taliban
leadership to achieve bin Laden’s extradition. U.N. Security Council Resolution
1333, of December 19, 2000, was partly an effort by the United States and Russia to
compel Pakistan to cease military advice and aid to the Taliban. Pakistan did not
completely cease military assistance, but it abided by some provisions of the
Kraul, Chris. U.S. Aid Effort Wins Over Skeptics in Afghanistan. Los Angeles Times,
April 11, 2003.
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.
resolution, for example by ordering the Taliban to cut the staff at its embassy in
Pakistan. 15 Just prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, 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 modest 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. 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 provided the United States with requested access to
Pakistani airspace, ports, airfields. Pakistan also arrested hundreds of Al Qaeda
fighters fleeing Afghanistan and turned them over to the United States and deployed
substantial forces to the Afghan border to capture Al Qaeda fighters attempting to
flee into Pakistan. Pakistani authorities helped the United States track and capture
top bin Laden aide Abu Zubaydah in early April 2002, alleged September 11 plotter
Ramzi bin Al Shibh (captured September 11, 2002), and top Al Qaeda planner
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (March 2, 2003). Pakistani forces reportedly are helping
to track Al Qaeda forces along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
At the same time, Pakistan has sought to protect its interests by fashioning a
strong Pashtun-based component for a post-Taliban government. Pakistan was wary
that a post-Taliban government dominated by the Northern Alliance , which is
backed by India , and it is. Some Afghan officials are concerned about the
implications for the Afghan government of the election gains of some pro-Taliban
parties in Pakistan’s October 2002 parliamentary elections; those parties did well in
districts that border Afghanistan. Taliban or pro-Taliban elements in Pakistan
apparently prompted a brief border clash between Afghan and Pakistani forces in
mid-April 2003; tensions were subsequently reduced after a visit to the region by
White House envoy Khalilzad and a Karzai visit to Pakistan on April 22, 2003.
However, clashes have again escalated to exchange of mortar and small arms fire
across the border on virtually a daily basis. The escalation in clashes came after
comments in early July 2003 by Musharraf in which he questioned Karzai’s ability
to control Afghanistan; Afghan demonstrators attacked Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul
(July 8) after those comments. Pakistan also wants the new government of
Afghanistan to pledge to abide by the “Durand Line,” the border between the two
countries drawn up by the British in the 1890s to separate Afghanistan from what
was then British-controlled India (later Pakistan after the 1947 partition).
As of October 2002, about 1.75 million Afghan refugees have returned from
Pakistan since the Taliban fell. About 300,000 Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan.
Constable, Pamela. New Sanctions Strain Taliban-Pakistan Ties. Washington Post,
January 19, 2001.
Iran’s key national interests in Afghanistan are to exert influence over western
Afghanistan, which Iran borders and was once part of the Persian empire, and to
protect Afghanistan’s Shiite minority. After Taliban forces ousted Ismail Khan from
Herat (the western province that borders Iran) in September 1995, Iran saw the
Taliban as a threat to its interests in Afghanistan. After that time, Iran drew even
closer to the Northern Alliance than previously, providing its groups with fuel, funds,
and ammunition, 16 and hosting fighters loyal to Khan, who was captured by the
Taliban in 1998 but escaped and fled to Iran in March 2000. 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, but the
crisis cooled without a major clash, possibly because Iran lacked confidence in its
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 acknowledged
working with Tehran, under the auspices of the Six Plus Two contact group and
Geneva group. Iran has confirmed that it offered search and rescue assistance in
Afghanistan during the war, and it also allowed U.S. humanitarian aid to the Afghan
people to transit Iran. On the other hand, some Iranian leaders were harshly critical
of U.S. military action against the Taliban.
Amid reports Iran seeks to exert influence over the new government by arming
pro-Iranian Afghan factions, in early January 2002 President Bush warned Iran
against meddling in Afghanistan. The President listed Iran as part of an “axis of
evil” in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union message, partly because of Iran’s
actions in Afghanistan. Since then, the Bush Administration has continued to accuse
Iran of trying to build influence over the interim government and of failing to attempt
to locate or arrest Al Qaeda fighters who have fled to Iran from Afghanistan. Partly
in response to the U.S. criticism, in February 2002 Iran expelled Karzai-opponent
Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, although it did not arrest him and allowed him to return to
Afghanistan. For his part, Karzai has said that Iran is an important neighbor of
Afghanistan and visited Iran in late February 2002, pledging to build ties with the
Islamic republic. Saudi Arabia said in early August 2002 that Iran had turned over
to Saudi Arabia several Al Qaeda fighters located and arrested in Iran.
As of October 2002, about 275,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Iran
since the Taliban fell. About 1.2 million remain, many of which are integrated into
Steele, Jonathon, “America Includes Iran In Talks On Ending War In Afghanistan.”
Washington Times, December 15, 1997. A14.
A number of considerations might explain why Russia supported the U.S. effort
against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, including the use of bases in Central Asia to
conduct the war. 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. 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 Al Qaeda. 17 This faction was led by a Chechen of Arab origin who is
referred to by the name “Hattab” (full name is Ibn al-Khattab), although there are
some reports Russia may have killed him in Chechnya in 2002. In January 2000, the
Taliban became the only government in the world to recognize Chechnya’s
independence, and some Chechen fighters integrated into Taliban/Al Qaeda forces
were captured or killed during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The U.S. and Russian positions on Afghanistan became coincident well before
the September 11 attacks. 18 Even before the U.S.-led war, Russia was supporting the
Northern Alliance with some military equipment and technical assistance. 19 U.S.Russian cooperation led to the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 and
1233 (see section on “Harboring of Al Qaeda, below). 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 Qaeda. 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
and to justify its actions in Chechnya.
Central Asian States20
During Taliban rule, leaders in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan grew
increasingly alarmed that Central Asian radical Islamic movements were receiving
safe haven in Afghanistan. In 1996, several of these states banded together with
Russia and China into a regional grouping called the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization to discuss the threat emanating from Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.
The organization 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.
Whittell, Giles. “Bin Laden Link To Dagestan Rebel Fightback.” London Times,
September 6, 1999.
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.
Prior to the U.S. war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Uzbek officials had said that more
active support from Uzbekistan would not necessarily have enabled Dostam to
overturn Taliban control of the north. 21
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 Qaeda. 22 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. Uzbekistan was
highly supportive of the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks and
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, have been based at the Khanabad/Karsi air base there. Following the
fall of the Taliban, in December 2001 Uzbekistan reopened the Soviet-built
“Friendship Bridge” over the Amu Darya river in order to facilitate the flow of aid
into Uzbekistan. Uzbek officials in Tashkent told CRS in May 2002 that the defeat
of the Taliban has made them less anxious about the domestic threat from the IMU,
and press reports say the IMU has been severely weakened by its war defeats and
Tajikistan 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. 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
three air bases in Tajikistan, paving the way for Tajikistan to open facilities for U.S.
use, which it did formally offer in early November 2001. In July 2003, Afghanistan
and Tajikistan discussed the possibility of having Russian officers train Afghan
military officers in Tajikistan.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not directly border Afghanistan. However, IMU
guerrillas have transited Kyrgyzstan during past incursions into Uzbekistan. 23
Kazakhstan had begun to diplomatically engage the Taliban over the year prior to the
September 11 attacks, but it publicly supported the U.S. war effort against the
Taliban. In early December 2001, Kyrgyzstan offered to host U.S. warplanes, and
U.S. and French aircraft, including U.S. Marine F-18 strike aircraft, have been using
part of the international airport at Manas (Peter J. Ganci base) as a base for combat
flights in Afghanistan. 24 Kyrgyzstan said in March 2002 that there is no time limit
on the U.S. use of military facilities there; French aircraft withdrew in September
CRS conversations with Uzbek government officials in Tashkent. April 1999.
The IMU was named a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in
Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999, pp. 14, 92.
Some information based on CRS visit to the Manas facility in Kyrgyzstan, May 2002.
2002 as the war wound down. Kazakhstan signed an agreement with the United
States in July 2002 to allow coalition aircraft to use Kazakhstan’s airports in case of
an emergency or short term need related to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Of the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, only Turkmenistan chose
to seek close relations with the Taliban leadership, possibly viewing engagement as
a more effective means of preventing spillover of radical Islamic activity from
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, which 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
politically supported the U.S. anti-terrorism effort. There are no indications the
United States 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
Al Qaeda to promote Islamic fundamentalism among Muslims (Uighurs) in
northwestern China. A number of Uighurs fought in Taliban and Al Qaeda ranks in
the U.S.-led war. China expressed its concern through active membership in the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as noted above. 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 long been concerned about the threat from the Taliban and bin
Laden, China did not, at first, enthusiastically 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. Pakistan’s
cooperation with the United States appears to have allayed China’s opposition to U.S.
military action, and President Bush has praised China’s cooperation with the antiterrorism effort in his meetings with senior leaders of China.
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 improved dramatically beginning in 1997, and
balancing Iranian power ebbed as a factor in Saudi policy toward Afghanistan.
Instead, drawing on its intelligence ties to Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet
war, Saudi Arabia worked with Taliban leaders to persuade them to suppress anti-
Saudi activities by Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia apparently believed that Al Qaeda’s
presence in Afghanistan drew Saudi Islamic radicals away from Saudi Arabia itself
and thereby reduced their opportunity to destabilize the Saudi regime. 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
Laden’s fate. Other reports, however, say that Saudi Arabia refused an offer from
Sudan in 1996 to extradite bin Laden to his homeland on the grounds that he could
become a rallying point for opposition to the regime. 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.
According to U.S. officials, Saudi Arabia generally cooperated with the U.S.
war effort. Along with the UAE, Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with the
Taliban in late September 2001. It quietly permitted the United States to use a Saudi
base for command of U.S. air operations over Afghanistan, but it did not permit U.S.
aircraft to launch strikes in 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.
Other U.S. Policy Concerns and Initiatives
U.S. policy objectives in Afghanistan have long gone beyond establishing
political stability and combating terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, although
in the 3 years prior to the September 11 attacks, U.S. goals had largely narrowed to
ending the presence of the Al Qaeda leadership and infrastructure there. Ending
discrimination against women and girls, the eradication of narcotics production, and
alleviating severe humanitarian difficulties, and promoting long-term economic
development, have been long-standing U.S. goals, pursued with varying degrees of
intensity. The United States pursued some of these goals and provided high levels
of assistance to Afghanistan, even during the Taliban years. The Bush
Administration believes it can make substantially more progress on these issues than
was made during the Taliban’s rule, now that there is a pro-U.S. government in
Promoting Human Rights/Equitable Treatment of Women
Virtually all observers agree that Afghans are freer than they were under the
Taliban, although the interim administration is relatively young and many want to
evaluate its human rights practices over a longer period of time. The groups that
have assumed power from the Taliban are widely considered far less repressive of
women than was the Taliban . However, since the Karzai administration took office,
there have been some reports of reprisals and other abuses based on ethnicity in
certain parts of Afghanistan, particularly against Pashtuns living in largely Tajik and
Uzbek northern Afghanistan. In one of the first major evaluations of human rights
since the ousting of the Taliban, Human Rights Watch issued a report on July 29,
2003, saying that militiamen loyal to various local leaders and other powerful figures
are silencing critics and intimidating the population. The report adds that women are
subject to physical and psychological harm that has limited their ability to participate
in civil society and politics. 25 To address some concerns about its performance, in
late April 2003 the Afghan government inaugurated a human rights department to
help curb abuses of individual rights by Afghan police.
Some observers say that the new government is reimposing some Islamic
restrictions that characterized Taliban rule, including the code of criminal
punishments stipulated in Islamic law. 26 Some have blamed the increased restrictions
on chief justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari, a religious conservative. On January 21, 2003,
Shinwari ordered shut down cable television in Kabul on the grounds it was unIslamic, and called for an end to co-education. The U.S. government has generally
refrained from advising the new government on these issues, lest the United States
be accused of undue interference in Kabul’s affairs. Although the government is
taking on a more Islamic character than was perhaps expected, progressive political
parties, among others, have been allowed to organize and meet without interference,
according to the State Department’s human rights report for 2002.
Under the new government, women in Kabul are said to be reverting to the less
restrictive behavior practiced before the Taliban fled. The burqa is no longer
obligatory, although many women continue to wear it by tradition or because of fear
or uncertainty of the new government’s attitudes on the issue. Two women hold
positions in the new government, and many women are returning to the jobs they
held before the Taliban came to power. As noted above, girls returned to school
March 23, 2002, for the first time since the Taliban took over, and many female
teachers have resumed their teaching jobs.
Although the treatment of Afghan women does not receive as much press
coverage as the issue did when the Taliban was in power, the Administration and
Congress have taken an interest in the treatment of women under the post-Taliban
government. 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. After the new government took office, the United States and
the new Afghan government set up a U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council to coordinate
the allocation of resources so as to improve the future of Afghan women. It is
chaired on the U.S. side by Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula
Dobriansky, and on the Afghan side by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of
According to the State Department’s June 2003 report on U.S. efforts to
promote democracy abroad (“Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the U.S.
Record 2002-2003”), the United States sponsored several programs during 2002 to
2003 to help women. U.S. Embassy Kabul sponsored female activists to visit the
United States in preparation for the June 2002 loya jirga. The Administration also
funded a $2.575 million program to establish ten women’s centers in Kabul and
Witt, April. Report Claims Afghanistan Rife With Abuse, Fear. Washington Post, July
Shea, Nina. “Sharia in Kabul?” The National Review, October 28, 2002.
surrounding cities. Another program, valued at $250,000, provided Afghan women
with legal training.
The December 5, 2001 Bonn agreement mentions the need for a post-Taliban
Afghanistan government to prevent Afghanistan’s re-emergence as a haven for drug
cultivation, and the Bush Administration is focusing some U.S. resources on
counter-narcotics. Britain is taking the lead among coalition partners in working with
the new government to reduce narcotics production and trafficking. In January 2002,
the Karzai government banned poppy cultivation, although it has had difficulty
enforcing the ban due to resource limitations and opposition from Afghan farmers
who see few alternatives. The U.N. Drug Control Program estimated in August 2002
that 3,000 tons of opium crop would be produced in Afghanistan in 2002, restoring
Afghanistan to its previous place as the world’s top opium producer. 27 That estimate
was largely realized. Present estimates for all of 2003 say the opium crop will reach
close to 4,000 metric tons, as local leaders look to the crop as a source of revenue
with which to maintain their independent militias and fiefdoms. 28
On January 31, 2003, the Bush Administration determined that Afghanistan
was a major drug transit or illicit drug producing country. However, the
Administration did not include Afghanistan in the list of countries that had “failed
demonstrably to make substantial efforts” during the past 12 months to adhere to
international counter-narcotics agreements and take certain counter-narcotics
measures set forth in U.S. law. Therefore, no sanctions against Afghanistan were
triggered. (This is equivalent to the listing by the United States, as Afghanistan has
been listed 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
Narcotics trafficking control was perhaps the one issue on which the Taliban
apparently satisfied much of the international community. The Taliban, for the most
part, enforced its July 2000 ban on poppy cultivation; 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. 29 The Northern Alliance
did not issue a similar ban in areas it controlled. In April 2001, the United States
began funding a UNDCP crop substitution program, contributing $1.5 million to that
program in FY2001.
Armitage, Tom. “U.N. Sees Afghan Opium Cultivation Soaring in 2002.” Reuters,
February 28, 2002.
Tohid, Owais. Bumper Year for Afghan Poppies. Christian Science Monitor, July 24,
Crossette, Barbara. “Taliban Seem to Be Making Good on Opium Ban, U.N. Says.” New
York Times, February 7, 2001.
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. Prior to the
U.S.-led war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, 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.30 In the aftermath of the Soviet
withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States had tried to retrieve the at-large
Stingers.31 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; some reportedly were
transferred to Lebanese Hizballah, according to press reports in January 2002. 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 1999.32 It was not the Stinger but Soviet-made SA-7 “Strella” man portable
launchers that were fired, allegedly by Al Qaeda, against a U.S. military aircraft in
Saudi Arabia in June 2002 and against an Israeli passenger aircraft in Kenya on
November 30, 2002. Both firings missed their targets. SA-7s have been discovered
in Afghanistan by U.S.-led forces, most recently in December 2002.
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 1996,33 an unspecified
number of man-portable surface-to-air missiles (Stingers) remain in Afghanistan.34
The Stinger issue resurfaced in conjunction with the U.S. war effort. U.S. pilots
reported that the Taliban fired some Stingers at U.S. aircraft during the war, but they
recorded no hits. Any Stingers that survived the anti-Taliban war are likely
controlled by Afghans now allied to the United States and would presumably pose
less of a threat. In early February 2002, the interim government collected and
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.
returned to the United States “dozens” of Stingers and said it would continue to try
to find and return additional Stingers.35
Land Mine Eradication
Land mines 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 land mines. 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-FY2002, the United States Humanitarian Demining Program was
providing about $3 million per year for Afghanistan demining activities, and the
amount has escalated to about $7 million in the post-Taliban period. Most of the
funds go to the HALO Trust, a British organization, and the U.N. Mine Action
Program for Afghanistan.
Providing Resources to the Afghan Government
Since the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan has faced major humanitarian
difficulties, some of which deteriorated further under Taliban rule. In addition to 3.6
million Afghan refugees at the start of the U.S.-led war, 36 another 500,000 Afghans
were displaced internally even before U.S. military action began, according to
Secretary General Annan’s April 19, 2001, report on Afghanistan. Many of the
displaced persons had fled the effects of a major drought that affected the 85% of the
population that directly depends on agriculture. 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. However, about 2 million Afghan
refugees have returned since January 2002.
A variety of U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) serve
as the vehicles for international assistance to Afghanistan. The U.N. High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) supervises Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan
and Afghan repatriation.
U.S. Assistance. The United States had become the largest single provider
of assistance to the Afghan people, even before the crisis triggered by the September
11, 2001 attacks. 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
Fullerton, John. “Afghan Authorities Hand in Stinger Missiles to U.S.” Reuters,
February 4, 2002.
About 1.5 million Afghan refugees were in Iran; 2 million in Pakistan; 20,000 in Russia;
17,000 in India, and 9,000 in the Central Asian states.
administering a cross-border program, there was no USAID mission for Afghanistan
after the end of FY1994, and U.S. aid has been provided through various channels,
mostly U.N. agencies and NGO’s.
Primarily because of a drought and the widely publicized suffering of the
Afghan people, U.S. aid to the Afghan people in FY2001 greatly exceeded that
provided in FY2000 or FY1999, but no U.S. assistance went directly to the Taliban
government. Table 1 breaks down FY1999-FY2002 aid by program. For a history
of U.S. aid to Afghanistan (FY1978-FY1998), see Table 3.
Post-Taliban. On October 4, 2001, in an effort to demonstrate that the United
States has an interest in the welfare of the Afghan people and not just the defeat of
the Taliban, President Bush announced that humanitarian aid to the Afghan people
would total about $320 million for FY2002. After the fall of the Taliban, at a
donors’ conference in Tokyo during January 20-21, 2002, the United States pledged
$296 million in reconstruction aid for Afghanistan for FY2002. The amounts
provided for FY2002 are listed in the table; the figures include both humanitarian and
reconstruction aid, totaling over $815 million for FY2002, which includes Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) funds devoted to the establishment and training of an
Afghan national army.
The conference report on the FY2002 foreign aid appropriations (H.Rept. 107354, P.L. 107-115) contained a sense of Congress provision that the United States
should contribute substantial humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, although no
dollar figures were mentioned. The conference report on an FY2002 supplemental
appropriations (H.R. 4775, H.Rept. 107-480, P.L. 107-206) recommended $134
million in additional aid to Afghanistan. (For more information, including on aid to
help Afghan civilian victims of U.S. airstrikes, see CRS Report RL31406,
Supplemental Appropriation for FY2002: Combatting Terrorism and Other Issues,
by Amy Belasco and Larry Nowels.)
FY2003 Plans. The Administration says it plans to spend about $820 million
for Afghan programs in FY2003, a figure announced on March 17, 2003, at a donors
forum for Afghanistan, held in Brussels. As part of the FY2003 plan, on September
12, 2002, the Administration pledged Afghanistan $80 million for road
reconstruction, as part of an international pledge of $180 million. Table 2 covers
FY2003 aid as appropriated. The FY2003 foreign aid appropriations, contained in
P.L. 108-7, an omnibus appropriations, stipulates that at least $295 million in aid be
provided to Afghanistan. Earmarks in that law, as well as in the FY2003
supplemental appropriations (H.R. 1559, P.L. 108-11 ), are included in Table 2.
Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002. An authorization bill, S.
2712, the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002, was passed by the Senate on
November 14 and by the House on November 15, and signed on December 4, 2002
(P.L. 107-327). It authorizes the following:
$60 million in total counter-narcotics assistance ($15 million per
year for FY2003-FY2006);
$30 million in assistance for political development, including
national, regional, and local elections ($10 million per year for
$80 million total to benefit women and for Afghan human rights
oversight ($15 million per year for FY2003-FY2006 for the Afghan
Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and $5 million per year for FY20032006 to the National Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan);
$1.7 billion in humanitarian and development aid ($425 million per
year for FY2003-FY2006);
$300 million for an Enterprise Fund;
$300 million in draw-downs of defense articles and services for
Afghanistan and regional militaries; and
$1 billion ($500 million per year for FY2003-FY2004) to expand
ISAF if such an expansion takes place.
The total authorization, for all categories for all years, is $3.47 billion.
Billion Dollar Aid Package. Press reports in late July 2003 (Washington
Post, July 27) indicated that the Bush Administration is planning to provide an
additional $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan for FY2003, over and above what has been
appropriated. Administration officials, in briefings to congressional staff, confirmed
that the numbers cited were reasonably correct and indicated that the intended new
aid is to accelerate reconstruction and bolster moderate forces in the runup to the
planned June 2004 national elections. 37 According to Administration officials, the
additional monies will be drawn from existing aid accounts and will focus on
political stabilization/security, programs for political development in the context of
the June 2004 elections, and economic reconstruction (building roads, schools,
clinics, and support for the private sector). If the additional aid package is
implemented, U.S. aid to Afghanistan is likely to top $1.8 billion.
FY2004 Plans. The Administration has requested substantial funds for
FY2004. The total request, according to specific categories in the congressional
presentation, is about $550 million. The categories are as follows: $150 million in
FMF (for the Afghan national army); $150 million for DA; $150 million in ESF; $21
million for child survival programs; $40 million for counter-narcotics; $20 million
for peacekeeping; $19 million for Anti-terrorism and de-mining; and $600,000 for
International Military Education and Training Funds (IMET).
Foreign aid bills for FY2004, H.R. 2800, passed by the House on July 24, 2003,
and S.1426, which was reported to the full Senate on July 17, 2003, provide about
the level of funding requested by the Administration. Both bills earmark $600
million in assistance for FY2004. The Senate bill requires that $395 million is to be
for humanitarian aid, reconstruction, road building, and other development projects.
The bill also specifies that $4.5 million is to go to the Afghan Human Rights
Commission; $2.5 million for the Afghan Judicial Reform Commission; $10 million
Briefing by Administration official for congressional staff, July 30, 2003.
for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs; and $2.5 million to compensate the families of
accidental victims of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The House bill
specifies that, of the $600 million total, $150 million is to be Economic Support
Additional Forms of U.S. Assistance. In addition to providing U.S.
foreign assistance, the U.S. Treasury Department (Office of Foreign Assets Control,
OFAC) has unblocked over $145 million in assets of Afghan government owned
banking entities that were frozen under U.S. sanctions imposed on the Taliban in
1999 (see below). These funds have been used by the new government for currency
stabilization, not for recurring costs of the interim government. Most of the funds
consisted of gold that will be held in Afghanistan’s name in the United States to back
up Afghanistan’s currency. Together with its allies, over $350 million in frozen
funds have been released to the new government. In January 2002, the United States
agreed to provide $50 million in credit for U.S. investment in Afghanistan, provided
by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). On March 7, 2003, OPIC
pledged an additional $50 million, bringing the total line of credit to $100 million.
The United States also has successfully pressed the International Air Transport
Association to pay Afghanistan $20 million in overflight fees that were withheld
because of U.N. sanctions on the Taliban. In April 2002, OFAC unblocked $17
million in privately-owned Afghan assets. In May 2002, the World Bank reopened
its office in Afghanistan after twenty years and, on March 12, 2003, it announced a
$108 million loan to Afghanistan, the first since 1979.
International Reconstruction Pledges.
Common estimates of
reconstruction needs run up to about $10 billion. At the Tokyo donors’ conference,
mentioned above, the following international reconstruction pledges were announced:
European Union - $495 million in 2002; Japan - $500 million over the next 30
months; Germany - $362 million over the next 4 years; Saudi Arabia - $220 million
over the next 3 years; Iran - $560 million over the next 5 years; Pakistan - $100
million over the next 5 years; India - a $100 million line of credit; South Korea - $45
million over 30 months; and United Kingdom - $86 million in 2002. Total pledges
in Tokyo for reconstruction amounted to $2 billion to be spent in 2002 and $4.5
billion over the next 5 years. Of the amounts pledged for 2002, about $ 1.9 billion
was spent or received.
In March 2003, the EU announced a $410 million donation for 2003-2004. This
is in addition to its contribution, noted above, for 2002.
Table 1. U.S. Aid to Afghanistan in FY1999-FY2003
($ in millions)
U.S. Department of
and USAID Food
For Peace (FFP), via
via UNHCR and
$14.03 for the
Office of Foreign
NGO’s to aid
$7.0 to Halo
went to similar
Aid to Afghan
Iran, and to
tons for May
Office of Transition
Dept. of Defense
Title II, and
$50.9 ( 2.4
Table 2. U.S. Aid to Afghanistan, FY2003
($ in millions, same acronyms as above table)
From the FY2003 foreign aid appropriations (P.L. 108-7)
Child Survival Programs
International Disaster Assistance
Non-Proliferation, Demining, AntiTerrorism (NADR)
Migration and Refugee Assistance
Total from this law:
From the FY2003 supplemental (P.L. 108-11)
($100 million for Kabul-Qandahar road;
$10 million for provincial reconstruction
teams; and $57 million for operational
support to Afghan government)
($165 million to reimburse DOD for
monies already spent to train Afghan
national army; $170 in new FMF to train
Afghan national army)
Security for AID work
(Almost all for work in Afghanistan)
Total from this law:
Total for FY2003:
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan FY1978-1998
($ 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 for counternarcotics.
Lifting of U.S. and International Sanctions
Shoring up a post-Taliban government of Afghanistan with financial and other
assistance has required waivers of restrictions or the permanent modification of U.S.
and U.N. sanctions previously imposed on Afghanistan. Most of the sanctions
discussed below have now been lifted.
On May 2, 1980, Afghanistan was deleted from the list of designated
beneficiary countries under the U.S. Generalized System of
Preferences (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 January 10, 2003, the
President signed a proclamation making Afghanistan a beneficiary
of GSP, eliminating U.S. tariffs on 5,700 Afghan products.
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 George H.W. 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
On October 7, 1992, President George H.W. 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 Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 (P.L. 79-173, 12 U.S.C. 635).
However, President George H.W. Bush’s determination was not
implemented before he left office.
President George H.W. Bush’s October 7, 1992 determination (933) 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 Afghanistan. The restrictions on U.S. aid to the
government of Afghanistan have been lifted in light of the change of
Section 552 of the Foreign Assistance Appropriations for FY1986
[P.L. 99-190] authorized the President to deny any U.S. credits or
most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff status for Afghanistan. Under that
law, on February 18, 1986, the height of the Soviet occupation,
President Reagan had issued Presidential Proclamation 5437,
suspending (MFN) tariff status for Afghanistan (51 F.R. 4287). On
May 3, 2002, President Bush restored normal trade treatment to the
products of Afghanistan.
On March 31, 1993, President Clinton, on national interest grounds,
waived restrictions provided for in Section 481 (h) of the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961, as amended [P.L. 87-195]; 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. Mandatory
sanctions include bilateral aid cuts and suspensions, including denial
of Ex-Im Bank credits; 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 GSP;
additional duties on country exports to the United States; and
curtailment of air transportation with the United States. On
February 25, 2002, President Bush waived restrictions on FY2002
aid to Afghanistan under this Act.
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. On July 2, 2002, the State Department
amended U.S. regulations (22 CFR Part 126) to allow arms sales to
the new Afghan government.
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. 104132), as a state that is not cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism
efforts. The designation, made primarily because of Taliban’s
harboring of bin Laden, makes Afghanistan ineligible to receive U.S.
exports of items on the U.S. Munitions List. The designation was
repeated every year since 1997. Afghanistan was deleted from the
list of non-cooperative states when the list was reissued on May 15,
2002, thereby eliminating this sanction on Afghanistan.
On July 4, 1999, the President declared a national emergency with
respect to Taliban because of its hosting of bin Laden, 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 Taliban-controlled 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.
On January 29, 2002, the State Department issued a determination
that the Taliban controls no territory within Afghanistan, thus
essentially ending this trade ban. On July 2, 2002, President Bush
formally revoked this executive order.
On October 15, 1999, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution
1267; on December 19, 2000, it adopted U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1333, imposed a number of new sanctions against the
Taliban. For the provisions of these sanctions, see the section on the
harboring of bin Laden. As noted, these sanctions were narrowed to
penalize only Al Qaeda by virtue of the adoption of U.N. Security
Council Resolution 1390 of January 17, 2002.
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
Corporation38 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.
The deterioration in U.S.-Taliban relations after 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 Laden’s bases in Afghanistan, Unocal suspended all its
Afghan pipeline-related activities, including a U.S.-based training program for
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.
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 lacked the financing
and technology to make the consortium viable. The rival consortium led by Bridas
of Argentina reportedly continued to try to win approval for its proposal to undertake
Prospects for the project have improved in the post-Taliban period. In a summit
meeting in late May 2002 between the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan, the three countries agreed to revive the gas pipeline project. Sponsors of
the project held an inaugural meeting on July 9, 2002 in Turkmenistan, signing a
series of preliminary agreements. However, financing for the project is unclear.
Table 4: Major Factions in Afghanistan
Areas of Control
Small groups hiding
(dominant party in the
(political leader), Tajik
Most of northern and
Fahim is Vice
Dr. Abdullah is
Rabbani holds no
Forces of Ismail Khan
(part of Northern
Herat Province and
environs; Khan’s son
Eastern Shura (loosely
allied with Northern
No clear leader,
of Abdul Qadir;
environs; Qadir was
Movement of Afghanistan Dostam
(part of Northern
Mazar Sharif and
was deputy defense
minister in interim
(part of Northern
Khalili is a vice
Map of Afghanistan