Key Events As US Withdraws From Afghanistan Ending A War That Lasted 20 Years

The last soldier of the United States has left Kabul airport, ending America’s longest war of 20 years. Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf said, “The last U.S. soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence,” according to Al Jazeera TV.

The US Army also shared an image of Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division who is the last evacuee.

In the backdrop to this, let us see the history of the Afghanistan-America war:

On September 11, 2001, a major terror attack happened in the United States. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center in New York, Pentagon in Washington DC, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania killing close to three thousand people. As an aftermath of the attack, the then United States President, George W. Bush vowed to win the war against terrorism and called on the Taliban regime to ‘deliver’ all the leaders of al-Qaeda.

On September 18, 2001, the then President George W. Bush signed into law a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States on 9/11.

030114-O-0000D-001.President George W. Bush. Photo by Eric Draper, White House.

On October 7, 2001, US Military with British support launched Operation Enduring Freedom in which they began bombing against Taliban forces. Later Canada, Australia, Germany, and France also pledged support.

In November, Mazar-e-Sharif was taken over by forces loyal to Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek military leader. Soon the stronghold of Taliban shambled as Taloqan, Bamiyan, Herat, Kabul and Jalalabad was attacked by Northern Alliance. In the same month the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1378, calling for a “central role” for the United Nations seeking member states to send peacekeeping forces to promote stability and aid delivery.

In March 2002, nearly two thousand US and one thousand Afghan troops were battling. This US operation was named as Operation Assault. In the same year, President George W. Bush called for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In 2003, President Bush said that mission was accomplished and thw US army will move from the phase of battle to the phase of stabilization and reconstruction activities.

In 2004, Afghanistan had its first election and Hamid Karzai became the President. However, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden released a video and took responsibility for September 11, 2001. Laden also demanded freedom for Afghanistan.

In 2005, United States and Afghanistan jointly declared a strategic partnership which gave U.S. forces access to Afghan military facilities to prosecute “the war against international terror and the struggle against violent extremism.”

In 2007, Taliban military commander, Mullah Dadullah, was killed in a joint operation by Afghan, US, and NATO forces in the south of Afghanistan.

In 2009, new US President Barack Obama announced his plan to send seventeen thousand more troops to Afghanistan. He also announced the strategy to aid Pakistan in fighting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. US launched operation in southern Afghanistan and increased the number troops between sixty thousand and sixty-eight thousand. In December, Obama declared drawdown of US troop. He said, Afghan security forces will be trained so that the responsibility of US forces can be transferred.

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 2010, NATO member countries signed a declaration agreeing to hand over full responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

In 2011, Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan, which increased anti-Pakistan rhetoric in Afghanistan. Obama announced withdrawal of thirty thousand US troop by 2012 and seventy thousand troops had to stay till 2014. Obama also confirmed that peace talks with Taliban leadership was being held. After 10 years, the first international conference was held to lay down a blueprint for Afghanistan’s transition to a self-sustaining and secure government.

In 2013, Afghan government took over the security responsibilities and US-led coalition focussed on training army and operations-driven counterterrorism.

In 2017, US dropped bomb on suspected self-proclaimed Islamic State militants at a cave complex in eastern Nangarhar Province. The then President Donald Trump announced his plan of adding several thousand US troops in Afghanistan along with the existing ones. At this time, Kabul experienced several suicide bombings.

In 2019, peace talks between US and Taliban progressed when talks between US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top Taliban official Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar took place. Trump planned to pull out seven thousand troops. Later in September of the same year, Trump called off peace talks. He said he cancelled the peace talks after a US soldier was killed in Taliban attack.

In 2020, the deal was signed between US envoy Khalilzad and Taliban’s Baradar which included the US to withdraw forces and the Taliban to guarantee that the country will not be used for terror activities. But despite the deal, Taliban fighters carried out several attacks and US forces retaliated with air strike.

In 2021, Joe Biden, the new President of US announced that the US will remove its troop by September 11, 2021, which was earlier set as May 1, 2021.

On August 15, 2021, Afghan government collapsed when Taliban fighters took over the Presidential palace hours after the President of the nation, Ashraf Ghani left the country.

On August 26, thirteen US service members were killed in an attack at a checkpoint outside the Kabul airport where thousands of people were being evacuated. Biden vowed to take action against it and continued evacuation until the deadline August 31.

Paratroopers from XVIII Airborne Corp continue to support the Non-combatant Evacuation (NEO) mission in Afghanistan, August 21, 2021.
The XVIII Airborne Corp units: 44th Medical Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, The 16th Military Police Brigade, and 35th Signal Brigade continue to safely evacuating American citizens and designated Afghans from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The Department of Defense is supporting the Department of State in evacuating U.S. civilian personnel, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible.

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