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Conflict history: Afghanistan

Head of State: President Hamid Karzai, June 2002- (Chairman of Afghan Interim Authority from December 2001, indirectly elected President Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan June 2002, popularly elected President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, October 2004).

Current Afghan boundaries determined 1893 treaty with Britain, splitting Pashtun ethnic group between Afghanistan and British India, later permanent factor in Afghan relations.

Several ethnic groups present including: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, and Turkmen. Afghan independence Treaty of Rawapindi 1919 after long period of struggle for influence between Britain and Russia over 19th century. Britain retained influence and interest until independence of India and Pakistan 1947. Independent Afghanistan signed successive cooperation treaties with RSFR (later USSR) from 1921. Afghanistan subject of both U.S. and Soviet bids for influence after 1945.

King Zahir Shah ascended throne 1933 after assassination of father, retained power until 1973 coup. Mohammad Daud became Prime Minister 1953, seeking Soviet economic assistance, signing 1955 transit agreement with USSR and introducing centralisation and planned economy. Daud forced to resign 1963; democratic constitution approved by loya jirga assembly 1964, included legislature -- although political parties not allowed and the body fractious and ineffective. Limited role of Islamic law incorporating religious judges into state system while establishing supremacy of secular law for most cases.

Political instability from late 1960s. Daud launched coup 1973 while king out of country and was proclaimed president. In turn, 1978 coup by Communist People’s Democratic Party installed Nur Mohammed Taraki as president, deputised by Hafizullah Amin.

Growing role of Soviets in Afghan army and government; Taraki signed friendship treaty with Moscow 1978. Power struggle between Taraki and Amin on background of rural conservative revolt led to Amin replacing Taraki, near collapse of Afghan army and consequent Soviet invasion December 1979. Amin executed and replaced by Soviet-backed Babrak Karmal 1980.

Afghanistan quickly became “hot” theatre in Cold War, with U.S. backing conservative anti-regime resistance to tie down Soviet army in Afghanistan. Pakistan, and backed anti-regime forces for variety of religious, strategic and political reasons. Success of Soviet use of Hind helicopter-gunships and special forces against mujahedin mitigated by U.S. Stinger ground-to-air missiles from 1986. Mohammad Najibullah replaced Karmal 1987, becoming president after promulgation of new republican constitution by loya jirga. 1988 agreement between Afghanistan, U.S., Pakistan and USSR allowed for full Soviet withdrawal 1989. USSR and U.S. agreed to stop support 1991.

Najibullah regime fell 1992, replaced by ethnic Tajik Burhannudin Rabbani. However, mujahadin alliance increasingly fragmented by ethnic and power rivalries marking Afghanistan’s further descent into warlordism. 1994, factional fighting, including indiscriminate attacks on civilian-populated areas in Kabul destroyed much of capital, killed some 25,000. Mostly Pashtun Taliban emerged as serious rival to Rabbani regime 1993-94 with Pakistani assistance. Led by Mullah Omar, Taliban seized Kabul September 1996, installing radical Islamist regime recognised 1997 by only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. United Front (Northern Alliance), mainly non-Pashtun opposition coalition retaining strongholds in northeastern Afghanistan, formed under authority of Ahmad Shah Masood.

Having fought there 1980s Osama bin Laden took refuge in Afghanistan from mid-1990s, both benefactor and guest of Taliban. Presence led to August 1998 U.S. cruise missile attack on Afghanistan following U.S. embassy bombings east Africa. Afghanistan’s failure to hand over bin Laden led to UN-imposed measures 1999. Northern Alliance failed to dislodge Taliban and came close to total defeat 1999.

Alliance commander Masood assassinated 9 September 2001, two days before attack on New York, Washington by al-Qaeda terrorists. International alliance under U.S. leadership bombed Afghanistan in retaliation, and aided opposition forces in taking Kabul November 2001. December 2001 Bonn agreement set up Afghan Interim Authority, led by Hamid Karzai. Fall of Kandahar seemed to signal final fall of Taliban December 2001, but Mullah Omar remained at large.

Foreign peacekeeping troops began arriving January 2002 under UN International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) mandate.. NATO assumed control of ISAF from August 2003 followed by an expansion from capital Kabul to north (2004), west (2005), and south (2006), planned 16,000 troops. This has largely been in the form of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), small civil-military forces aimed at kick-starting reconstruction and security in the regions along with bolstering central government authority. U.S. continued military operations in southeast in search of Taliban remnants and al-Qaeda members as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) although troop drawdown planned for Spring 2006.

The Bonn process saw a new moderate Islamic constitution adopted January 2004 following loya jirga. Popular election of President Hamid Karzai October 2004 and National Assembly and Provincial Councils in September 2005. Electoral system excluded political parties raising fears whether legislature can be robust arm of state.

Failure to tackle human rights abusers and war criminals of past eras sees discredited figures of past embedded in every level of administration. This has disillusioned the population and culture of impunity an ongoing source of instability. December 2005, Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice approved by Cabinet includes taskforce to examine possible action against perpetrators of past atrocities.

A Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme decommissioned some 60,000 former combatants on Ministry of Defence rolls by June 2005. Reintegration continues until June 2006 although sustained intervention required if ties that bind fighters to commanders are to be broken. Mid-2005, follow-up programme Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) began.

New Afghan National Army (ANA) has some 25,000 trained soldiers and has been seen as one of the nascent institutional successes in post-Taliban era although there have been retention issues. Some 56,000 Afghan National Police (ANP) have received training but are still a major source of insecurity rather than protection for the community. The judicial sector is another major area of neglect.

From almost nil in the last year of the Taliban, opium cultivation and trafficking now dominates the economy, producing some 87 per cent of world supply 2005. Involves public officials at every level and both a source and symptom of ongoing instability.

January 2006, the international community renewed its commitment to Afghanistan for 5 years in London with the Afghanistan Compact setting benchmarks in Development, Governance and Security with counter-narcotics a cross-cutting issue. A new monitoring and coordinating body will be co-chaired by the United Nations and the Afghan government.

Post-conflict recovery of Afghanistan remains precarious. In the southern and eastern provinces an ongoing insurgency has seen a dramatic increase in the tactics such as suicide bombing and attacks on police and army targets - with an apparent growing indifference for civilian casualties.


updated March 2006

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Velký díky a taky velká omluva patří Deltě Trutnov a obchodu,hlavně za jejich články o deltě a zbraních, takže díky moc..