Chronology of Major Events in Afghanistan Post 9/11
9/11 was one of the most pivotal events in the world history. It brought great transformation in world politics and specifically a big shift in the US foreign policy. A series of events took place in Afghanistan from 2001 till May 2012 which are significant to understand the foreign policy behavior of Afghanistan and its implications on the Afghan region.
The US threatened by the terrorist’s attacks of 9/11 invaded Afghanistan in 2001. US launched its “Operation Enduring Freedom” under the Bush’s Doctrine of pre-emptive unilateral strike in Afghanistan with the goal of dismantling the al-Qaeda terrorist network residing in Afghanistan and creating a viable democratic Afghan state by demolishing the established Taliban regime. In September 2001, Ahmad Shah Masood, and leader of the main opposition to the Taliban – the Northern Alliance was killed in a suicide bomb attack by two Arabs disguised as French media reporters. US-led bombing of Afghanistan began following the September 11 attacks and the Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces entered Kabul shortly afterwards. In December, there was a “Bonn Agreement” and Hamid Karzai was appointed as head of an interim power-sharing government.
In 2002, there was deployment of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – as foreign peacekeepers to fight against the Taliban. Former king Zahir Shah returned in April 2002 but made no claim to the throne and eventually died in 2007. The Loyal Jirga in June 2002 elected Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. In August 2003, NATO took control of security in Kabul. In January 2004, Loyal Jirga adopted new constitution and Hamid Karazai won the Presidential elections held in October/ November. In September 2005, parliamentary elections were held and most of the seats were won by the warlords and strongmen. In October 2006, NATO took command in the East from a US-led coalition force and assumed its responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan. In August 2007, UN reported high record level breaking opium production calling the Afghan Government to combat the threats of drugs/ narcotics by poppy cultivation and opium trafficking.
In June 2008, President Karzai warned Pakistan of Afghan intrusion into Pakistan territory if it failed to take action against the militants. In the July, suicide bombers attacked Indian embassy in Kabul and killed more than 50 people. After this incident the US President George Bush send an extra 4,500 US troops in September to Afghanistan, in a move he described as a “quiet surge”. In 2009, US send its 17,000 extra troops and NATO increased its military commitments in Afghanistan. In March 2009, US President Barack Obama unveiled new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan called the “Af-Pak Strategy” under which an extra 4,000 US personnel were sent to Afghanistan to train and bolster the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) and also the provision of financial assistance for civilian development and rehabilitation and reconstruction of the worn torn Afghan region.
In August 2009, Presidential and provincial elections were marred by widespread Taliban attacks, patchy turnout and claims of serious corruption and fraud cases. However elections were again held in October 2009 and Karzai won against his opponent Abdullah Abdullah. In December 2009, US President Barack Obama decided to boost US troop level in Afghanistan by 30,000, bringing the total number to 100,000. He declared US Exit Strategy or Withdrawal Plan of US troops from Afghanistan starting from 2011 till 2014. In the same month, an Al-Qaeda’s double agent killed seven CIA agents in a suicide attack on a US base in Khost. In February 2010, NATO-led forces along with the coalition forces launched a major offensive, “Operation Moshtarak”, in Marja and Southern Helmand province against Talibans. In July, Wiki leaks published thousands of classified US military documents relating to Afghanistan. At the same time General David Petraeus took command of the US, ISAF forces.
In August 2010, Dutch troops withdrew from Afghanistan. In November 2010, Parliamentary polls were again marred by Taliban violence, widespread fraud and a long delay in announcing results. On the other side NATO at “Lisbon Summit” agreed to hand over the control of security to Afghan forces by end of 2014. In January 2011, President Karzai made its first official state visit to Russia being the first Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989. In February, number of civilian causalities hit record levels according to the Afghanistan Human Rights Monitor reports. In April, burning of Koran by a US pastor prompted country-wide protests in which foreign UN workers and several Afghans were killed and almost 500 Taliban prisoners broke out of prison in Kandahar.
In July 2011, President’s half-brother and Kandahar governor Ahmad Wali Karzai was killed in Taliban campaign against prominent figures and in September former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a mediator in talks with the Taliban was assassinated. The Afghan government accused Pakistan behind the murder of Rabbani which worsen the relations between the two states. In October, Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership pact to extend co-operation in security, education and economic sectors. In November, President Karzai won the endorsement of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military partnership with the US at a Loyal Jirga traditional assembly. The proposed pact demanded US troops to stay after 2014, when foreign troops would leave Afghanistan. In December, at least 58 people were killed in twin attacks at a Shia shrine in Kabul and a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif. Pakistan and the Taliban boycotted the scheduled Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. Pakistan refused to attend after a NATO air strike killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border in Salala base incident.
In 2012, Taliban stepped forward for the reconciliation process. They agreed to open an office in Dubai as a move towards peace talks with the United States and the Afghan government. In February, at least 24 people were killed in protests about the burning of copies of the Koran at the US Bagram airbase. US officials reportedly believed Taliban prisoners were using the books to pass messages. In March, US Army Sgt Robert Bales was accused of killing 16 civilians in an armed rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar. In April, Taliban announced “Spring Offensive” with audacious attack on the diplomatic enclave-US, British, German, Japanese embassy compounds and the NATO force’s headquarters and tried to storm the Afghan parliament. The government accused Haqqani Network for these terrorist assaults. In May 2012, Arsala Rahmani, a key member of the High Peace Council was shot dead in Kabul. The Taliban denied responsibility for the killing. The New French President Francois Hollande announced French troops withdrawal from its military mission in Afghanistan a year earlier than planned. About 2,000 French would leave by the end of 2012, leaving 1,300 non-combat troops for an unspecified period. This was the overall chronology of major events that happened in Afghanistan from 2001 till May 2012.