A decade of US-led war in Afghanistan27 october 2011, 18:25
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Kabul for talks with the Afghan president on October 20, stepping up a diplomatic drive ahead of international conferences aimed at ending the 10-year war.
Ten years after the US-led invasion, Karzai's reconciliation efforts were derailed by the September assassination of peace broker Burhanuddin Rabbani and the Taliban are perceived to pose an increasingly wide threat in Afghanistan.
Concern is also growing among Afghans about the prospect of increased violence after 2014, when the US-led NATO mission is scheduled to withdraw all combat troops and hand over responsibility to local Afghan security forces.
Key dates in the war in Afghanistan, which began 10 years ago with an air campaign to dislodge the Taliban regime.
- September 11, 2001: Al-Qaeda hijackers fly passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. Top Al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are known to have safe havens in Afghanistan, which is ruled by the Taliban.
Photo courtesy of obozrevatel.com
- October 7, 2001: A US-led military campaign begins with air strikes against Afghanistan, followed by an invasion, to hunt down bin Laden and topple the Taliban.
- December 2001: The Taliban regime is forced from power, and Hamid Karzai is appointed to head a new government. An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mandated by the United Nations, begins to deploy.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai. ©AFP
- January 2002: The United States begins taking suspects captured in Afghanistan to its naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. The policy quickly becomes a major human rights scandal.
- March 2003: The United States takes on a second front by leading a massive invasion of Iraq. This reduces the resources that the United States and its main allies can devote to Afghanistan.
US troops in Iraq. ©Reuters
- August 11, 2003: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) engages in its first-ever mission outside its traditional zone of Europe by formally taking charge of the ISAF force.
- October 9, 2004: Afghanistan's first presidential election takes place with little bloodshed. Karzai is proclaimed the winner.
- February 2007: The reach of Taliban guerilla activity is brought home when guerillas attack a US base as vice president Dick Cheney visits, killing 24 people. US President George W. Bush vows to further boost his country's forces.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. ©Reuters
- November 2008: The Democrat candidate Barack Obama is elected to the US presidency, vowing to end the war in Iraq and focus on Afghanistan.
- December 1, 2009: Obama orders a 30,000-troop "surge" into Afghanistan but says a withdrawal will begin in July 2011. The number of NATO-led forces rises to a peak of 150,000 in the summer of 2010.
US President Barack Obama. ©AFP
- November 20, 2010: NATO leaders endorse a plan to start handing security responsibilities to Afghan forces, with the aim of ceding full control by the end of 2014
US troops in Afghanistan. ©Reuters
- March 22, 2011: Western military leaders start handing over authority to local Afghan forces, a process due to be completed by 2014.
US soldier in Afghanistan. ©Reuters
- May 2: Osama bin Laden is killed by US special forces in a raid on a house he has been hiding in near Pakistan capital Islamabad. The killing prompts some critics of the war to say that with bin Laden dead, it has lost its purpose.
Osama bin Laden. ©Reuters
- June 22: Obama announces the departure of 33,000 US troops by the middle of 2012.
- September 20: Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former president and would-be peacemaker, becomes the highest-ranking Afghan to be killed in an insurgent attack since the start of the conflict.
Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani. ©Reuters
- September 22: The US military's top officer accuses Pakistan of "exporting" violent extremism to Afghanistan, in a scathing and unprecedented public condemnation.
Taliban fighters. ©Reuters