Afghanistan Conflict

  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 09-03-14 10:03

Background Information

Capital: Kabul Population: 32.4million Independence - 1919 Civil War - 1978

  • Landlocked and its major river is the Helmand - it is in this region that most British troops are based
  • It is a primarily mountanious country  - 4/5ths of the land as well as largely desert
  • Foreign armies have historically fought over the ancient "silk route"
  • The drugs trade accounts from 1/3rd of the economy and the country produces 92% of opium
  • GNI per capita = US$410

It has been historically difficult for the authorities in Kabul to rule the country and enforece laws. The overthrow of the King in 1973 sparked events that led to decades of unrest.

A number of Afghan factions fought for control but it was the Islamic Taliban who controlled the majority of the country in the 90's. They angered the international community by allowing Bin Laden adn other al-Qaeda members to remain there and not hand Bin Laden over after 9/11. It paved the way for a new 'war on terror' from the americans. THe ground offensive began in Oct 2001 and forced the Taliban out of power and Kabul

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The Taliban & Al-Qaeda

...emerged in 1994 from the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, the Pashtuns and was originally a group of Islamic scholars. They were criticised internationally for their extreme version of Islam (Sharia law) which included banning women from work and introduced Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputation. They controlled 90% of Afghanistan  were only recognised as the legitimate goverment by three countries.


  • The organisation grew out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone to afghanistan under the banner of Islam against USSR communism
  • Operate in 40-50countries - usually in unstable nations like Somalia, Yemen, Chechnya and Afghanistan are thought to be training areas
  • Its a loosely knit organisation and operates across continents as a chain of interlocking networks ->Affliliated groups include the radical wing of the Egyptian "Islamic Jihad"

Osama Bin Laden - used money and machinery from his own company to help with the resistance in the war in Afghanistan - THe USA provided finanical aid and weapons to the Mujahideen and Bin Laden received training from US funded programmes. He was a major target for the war on terror after claiming responsibility from 9/11 and eventually took refuge in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was shot and killed in May 2011

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Timeline of Events

Aug 2003 - NATO takes control of security in Kabul - its first operational commitment outside Europe
Oct 2004 - Presidential Elections - Hamid Karzai is declared  winner
Sept 2005 - Afghans vote in the first parliamentary elections in over 30years
Sept 2008 - President Bush sends an extra 4500 troops to Afghanistan - The Quiet Surge
2009 - NATO countries pledge to increase military commitment after the US dispatches 17,000 extra troops. President Obama unveils a new strategy for Afghanistan. An extra 4000 US personnel will train and bolster the Afghan army/police and there will be support for civilian development
Dec 2009 - US says it will begin to withdraw forces in 2011
Aug 2010 - Dutch troops leave Afghanistan - the total hand over is to occur by 2014
April 2011 - the burning of a Koran by a US pastor prompts country-wide protests - UN workers and Afghans were killed
Oct 2011 - Relations with Pakistan worsen after a series of attacks. India and Afghanistan sign a partnership to expand cooperation in sercurity and developments
Jan 2012 - The Taliban agree to open talks in Dubai as a move towards peace talks with the US and Afghan government
May 2012 - NATO endorses the plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by 2014 -> France will withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012

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Timeline of Events

July 2012 - Tokyo donor conference pledges $16bn in civilian aid to Afghanistan with the US, Japan, Germany and the UK supplying the bulk of funds.  Afghanistan agrees to new conditions to counter-corruption

Sept 2012 - US hands over Bagram high-security jail to the Afghan government, although it retains control over some foreign prisoners

Feb 2013 - Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to work to an Afghan peace deal within 6 months after talks hosted by David Cameron

Wardak is strategically significant and a gateway for the Taliban to target Kabul. So it been the focus of many recent US counter insurgeny operations - > the allegations are that Afghan units are linked to torture and disappearances

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Social and Economic Impacts


  • Death toll: 17,400 people - 18 journalists were killed while covering the war
  • 1.8million refugees have fled to Pakistan alone
  • Afghans with ill health and wounds struggle to get to hospitals because the violence makes roads unsafe - 2/3rds of Afghan suffer from mental health problems
  • Poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to health care has been exacerbated by the current war
  • 1/3rd of Afghans survive on less than a $1 a day, 1/2 of Afghans do not have clean water and 63% lack effective sanitation


  • The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan cost the USA $4trillion
  • Taxes on opium export is one of the Taliban's main incomes and war economy -> $65bn from Opium funds terrorism, 15million addicts and kills 100,000people
  • Defence spending cuts will affect funds related to training Afghan troops and providing security within Afghanistan
  • Millions of dollars of goverment money may have disappeared to the Taliban
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Environmental Impacts

Environmental disasters create what humanitarisn relief communties call "complex emergencies"

  • Destruction of military base garbage in burnpits have created dangerous levels of toxic dust and depletion of uranium from US munitions has been blamed for elevated levels of cancer in the population
  • Deforectation in Afghnistan from illegal logging has destroyed wildlife habitats - 38% destroyed from 1990 to 2007
  • US bases are a lucrative market for the skins of the endagered snow leopards and because of this their numbers are thought to be down to 100-200
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Afghanistan/Pakistan Tensions

  • Afghanistan doesn't recognise its international border with Pakistan 
  • The border diveds Pashtun tribes - a notoriously difficult group to rule/control. They are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and 2nd largest in Pakistan
  • Afghanistan refugees in Pakistan will not have visas renewed
  • Recent missile attacks between Pakistani and Afghan forces erupted when the Pakistan army tried to position itself in the mountains of Goyee, Afghanistan
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Conflict Resolution


  • attempts at peace deals between Afghanistan and the western world - The Taliban agreed to open talks in Dubai as a move towards peace but the office never materialised in Qatar
  • the Afghan and Pakistani governemtns have agreed to a peac deal after talks with David Cameron


  • The Afghan Developement Association is a non-governmental and non-political organisation which promotes development in Afghanistan -> includes provision of basic services, resettlement of refugees/displaced persons and integrated rural development programs in education
  • It is also running a project on building Afghan peace which works on peace building, conflict resolution and gender equality supported by the British council


  • An informal system in which Afghans can create their own law and order through local councils. Disputes are resolved through local peace council members who are specially trained in non-discriminatory dispute  resolution by a charity (CPAU - Cooperation for PEace and Unity) -.> there is no formal justic system in Afghanistan
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