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See version of 23Oct13
and version of 24Jul17

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy (Update)



Security Policy: Transition, and Beyond

Regional Dimension

Aid and Economic Development

Residual Issues from Past Conflicts


Figure A-1. Map of Afghanistan
Figure A-2. Map of Afghan Ethnicities


Table 1. Afghanistan Political Transition Process
Table 2. U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Table 3. Summary of Current U.S. Strategy and Implementation
Table 4. Background on NATO/ISAF Formation and U.N. Mandate
Table 5. Major Security-Related Indicators
Table 6. Afghan and Regional Facilities Used for Operations in and Supply Lines to Afghanistan
Table 7. Major Reporting Requirements
Table 8. Comparative Social and Economic Statistics
Table 9. Major Non-U.S. Pledges for Afghanistan 2002-2012
Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1978-FY1998
Table 11. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1999-FY2001
Table 12. Post-Taliban U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan
Table 13. Total Obligations for Major Programs: FY2001-FY2011
Table 14. NATO/ISAF Contributing Nations
Table 15. Provincial Reconstruction Teams
Table 16. Major Factions/Leaders in Afghanistan


Appendix. U.S. and International Sanctions Lifted


Afghan security forces have lead security responsibility throughout the country, and the United States and its partner countries are in the process of transitioning to a smaller post-2014 mission consisting mostly of training the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which peaked at about 100,000 in June 2011, has been reduced to just over 20,000. President Obama announced in May 2014 that the United States plans to keep 9,800 U.S. forces in Afghanistan during 2015 mostly as advisers and trainers, with that number, shrinking to 4,900 in Kabul and at Bagram Airfield during 2016. U.S. forces will be joined by about 3,000 partner forces from various NATO and other countries. The post-2016 U.S. force is to be several hundred military personnel, under U.S. Embassy authority. Still, doubts about the ability of the ANSF to operate without substantial international backing have led to recent U.S. alterations of the post-2014 U.S. rules of engagement and debate over the post-2016 force.

The post-2014 force was contingent on Afghanistan's signing a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States. A dispute over alleged fraud in the June runoff presidential election resulted in a U.S.-brokered solution under which Ashraf Ghani became President and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was appointed to a new position of Chief Executive Officer of the government. Ghani and Abdullah took office on September 29, and the U.S.-Afghan BSA was signed on September 30. A similar document was also signed between Afghanistan and NATO.

Even though the election dispute was resolved, at least for now, experts remain concerned that Afghan stability is at risk from weak and corrupt Afghan governance. Ghani and Abdullah's disagreements over new cabinet selections have delayed the appointment of a new cabinet. U.S. and partner country anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have yielded few concrete results, although since taking office, Ghani, has signaled he will prioritize anti-corruption issues.

An unexpected potential benefit to stability could come from a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Negotiations have been sporadic, but in May 2014 produced an exchange of prisoners that included the return of U.S. prisoner of war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Afghanistan's minorities and women's groups fear that a settlement might produce compromises with the Taliban that erode human rights. Ghani's trips to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and China since taking office have been intended, at least in part, to invigorate negotiations on a political settlement with the Taliban. Persuading Afghanistan's neighbors, particularly Pakistan, to support the reconciliation process has shown some modest success, although Afghan insurgent groups continue to operate from Pakistani territory.

As part of a longer term economic strategy for Afghanistan, U.S. officials seek greater Afghan integration into regional trade and investment patterns as part of a "New Silk Road," and say that Afghanistan might be able to exploit vast mineral resources. Still, Afghanistan will remain dependent on foreign aid for many years. Through the end of FY2013, the United States provided nearly $93 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which more than $56 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. The appropriated U.S. aid for FY2014 is over $6.1 billion, including $4.7 billion to train and equip the ANSF, and the FY2015 request is about $5.7 billion. These figures do not include funds for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Administration officials have pledged to Afghanistan that economic aid requests for Afghanistan are likely to continue roughly at recent levels (about $1.5 billion per year) through at least FY2017. See CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman.


Afghanistan has a history of a high degree of decentralization, and resistance to foreign invasion and occupation. Some have termed it the "graveyard of empires."

From Early History to the 19th Century

Alexander the Great conquered what is now Afghanistan in three years (330 B.C.E. to 327 B.C.E), although at significant cost and with significant difficulty, and requiring, among other steps, marriage to a resident of the conquered territory. For example, he was unable to fully pacify Bactria, an ancient region spanning what is now northern Afghanistan and parts of the neighboring Central Asian states. (A collection of valuable Bactrian gold was hidden from the Taliban when it was in power and emerged from the Taliban period unscathed.) From the third to the eighth century, A.D., Buddhism was the dominant religion in Afghanistan. At the end of the seventh century, Islam spread in Afghanistan when Arab invaders from the Umayyad Dynasty defeated the Persian empire of the Sassanians. In the 10th century, Muslim rulers called Samanids, from Bukhara (in what is now Uzbekistan), extended their influence into Afghanistan, and the complete conversion of Afghanistan to Islam occurred during the rule of the Gaznavids in the 11th century. They ruled over a vast empire based in what is now Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

In 1504, Babur, a descendent of the conquerors Tamarlane and Genghis Khan, took control of Kabul and then moved on to India, establishing the Mughal Empire. (Babur is buried in the Babur Gardens complex in Kabul, which has been refurbished with the help of the Agha Khan Foundation.) Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Afghanistan was fought over by the Mughal Empire and the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (now Iran), with the Safavids mostly controlling Herat and western Afghanistan, and the Mughals controlling Kabul and the east. A monarchy ruled by ethnic Pashtuns was founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani. He was a senior officer in the army of Nadir Shah, ruler of Persia, when Nadir Shah was assassinated and Persian control over Afghanistan weakened.

A strong ruler, Dost Muhammad Khan, emerged in Kabul in 1826 and created concerns among Britain that the Afghans were threatening Britain's control of India; that fear led to a British decision in 1838 to intervene in Afghanistan, setting off the first Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842). Nearly all of the 4,500-person British force was killed in that war. The second Anglo-Afghan War took place during 1878-1880.

Early 20th Century and Cold War Era

King Amanullah Khan (1919-1929) launched attacks on British forces in Afghanistan (Third Anglo-Afghan War) shortly after taking power and won complete independence from Britain as recognized in the Treaty of Rawalpindi (August 8, 1919). He was considered a secular modernizer presiding over a government in which all ethnic minorities participated. He was succeeded by King Mohammad Nadir Shah (1929-1933), and then by King Mohammad Zahir Shah. Zahir Shah's reign (1933-1973) is remembered fondly by many older Afghans for promulgating a constitution in 1964 that established a national legislature and promoting freedoms for women, including dropping a requirement that they cover their face and hair. In part, the countryside was secured during the King's time by local tribal militias called arbokai. However, possibly believing that he could limit Soviet support for Communist factions in Afghanistan, Zahir Shah also built ties to the Soviet government by entering into a significant political and arms purchase relationship with the Soviet Union. The Soviets built large infrastructure projects in Afghanistan during Zahir Shah's time, such as the north-south Salang Pass/Tunnel and Bagram airfield.

This period was the height of the Cold War, and the United States sought to prevent Afghanistan from falling into the Soviet orbit. As Vice President, Richard Nixon visited Afghanistan in 1953, and President Eisenhower visited in 1959. President Kennedy hosted King Zahir Shah in 1963. The United States tried to use aid to counter Soviet influence, providing agricultural and other development assistance. Among the major U.S.-funded projects were large USAID-led irrigation and hydroelectric dam efforts in Helmand Province, including Kajaki Dam (see below).

Afghanistan's slide into instability began in the 1970s, during the Nixon Administration, when the diametrically opposed Communist Party and Islamic movements grew in strength. While receiving medical treatment in Italy, Zahir Shah was overthrown by his cousin, Mohammad Daoud, a military leader who established a dictatorship with strong state involvement in the economy. Daoud was overthrown and killed |1| in April 1978, during the Carter Administration, by People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA, Communist party) military officers under the direction of two PDPA (Khalq, or "Masses" faction) leaders, Hafizullah Amin and Nur Mohammad Taraki, in what is called the Saur (April) Revolution. Taraki became president, but he was displaced in September 1979 by Amin. Both leaders drew their strength from rural ethnic Pashtuns and tried to impose radical socialist change on a traditional society, in part by redistributing land and bringing more women into government. The attempt at rapid modernization sparked rebellion by Islamic parties opposed to such moves.

Soviet Invasion and Occupation Period

The Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979, to prevent further gains by the Islamic militias, known as the mujahedin (Islamic fighters). Upon their invasion, the Soviets replaced Amin with another PDPA leader perceived as pliable, Babrak Karmal, who led the Parcham ("Banner") faction of the PDPA. Kamal was part of the 1978 PDPA takeover but hd been exiled by Taraki and Amin.

Soviet occupation forces numbered about 120,000. They were assisted by Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) military forces of about 25,000-40,000, supplemented by about 20,000 paramilitary and tribal militia forces, including the PDPA-dominated paramilitary organization called the Sarandoy. Soviet and Afghan forces were never able to pacify the outlying areas of the country, in part because DRA forces were plagued by desertions and their effectiveness was limited. The mujahedin benefited from U.S. weapons and assistance, provided through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in cooperation with Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence directorate (ISI).

The Seven Major "Mujahedin" Parties and Their Activities

The mujahedin were also relatively well organized and coordinated by seven major parties that in early 1989 formed what they claimed was a government-in-exile--a Peshawar-based "Afghan Interim Government" (AIG). The seven party leaders and their parties--sometimes referred to as the "Peshawar 7"--were Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi (Islamic Revolutionary Movement of Afghanistan); Sibghatullah Mojaddedi (Afghan National Liberation Front); Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (Hezb-i-Islam--Gulbuddin, Islamic Party of Gulbuddin, HIG); Burhanuddin Rabbani (Jamiat-Islami/Islamic Society); Yunus Khalis (Hezb-i-Islam); Abd-i-Rab Rasul Sayyaf (Ittihad Islami/Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan); and Pir Gaylani (National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, NIFA). Mohammadi and Khalis died of natural causes in 2002 and 2006, respectively, and Rabbani was killed in a September 20, 2011, assassination. The others are still active in Afghan politics and governance or, in the case of Hikmatyar, fighting the Afghan government. Sayyaf, who is politically close to Saudi Arabia, is a parliamentarian.

The mujahedin weaponry included U.S.-supplied portable shoulder-fired anti-aircraft systems called "Stingers," which proved highly effective against Soviet aircraft. The United States decided in 1985 to provide these weapons to the mujahedin after substantial debate within the Reagan Administration and some in Congress over whether they could be used effectively and whether doing so would harm broader U.S.-Soviet relations. The mujahedin also hid and stored weaponry in a large network of natural and manmade tunnels and caves throughout Afghanistan. However, some warned that a post-Soviet power structure in Afghanistan could be adverse to U.S. interests because much of the covert aid was being channeled to the Islamist groups including those of Hikmatyar and Sayyaf.

Partly because of the effectiveness of the Stinger in shooting down Soviet helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, the Soviet Union's losses mounted--about 13,400 Soviet soldiers were killed in the war, according to Soviet figures--turning Soviet domestic opinion against the war. In 1986, after the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev became leader, the Soviets replaced Karmal with the director of Afghan intelligence, Najibullah Ahmedzai (known by his first name). Najibullah was a Ghilzai Pashtun, and was from the Parcham faction of the PDPA. Some Afghans say that he governed effectively, for example in his appointment of a prime minister (Sultan Ali Keshtmand and others) to handle administrative duties and distribute power.

Geneva Accords (1988) and Soviet Withdrawal

On April 14, 1988, then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to a U.N.-brokered accord (the Geneva Accords) requiring the Soviet Union to withdraw. The withdrawal was completed by February 15, 1989, leaving in place the weak Najibullah government. A warming of relations moved the United States and Soviet Union to try for a political settlement to the Afghan conflict, a trend accelerated by the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which reduced Moscow's capacity for supporting communist regimes abroad. On September 13, 1991, Moscow and Washington agreed to a joint cutoff of military aid to the Afghan combatants as of January 1, 1992, which was implemented by all accounts.

The State Department has said that a total of about $3 billion in economic and covert military assistance was provided by the United States to the Afghan mujahedin from 1980 until the end of the Soviet occupation in 1989. Press reports say the covert aid program grew from about $20 million per year in FY1980 to about $300 million per year during FY1986-FY1990. |2| The Soviet pullout was viewed as a decisive U.S. "victory." The Soviet pullout caused a reduction in subsequent covert funding and, as indicated in Table 10, U.S. assistance to Afghanistan remained at relatively low levels after the Soviet withdrawal. There was little support for a major U.S.-led effort to rebuild the economy and society of Afghanistan. The United States closed its embassy in Kabul in January 1989, as the Soviet Union was completing its pullout, and it remained so until the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

Despite the Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989, Najibullah still enjoyed Soviet financial and advisory support and he defied expectations that his government would collapse soon after a Soviet withdrawal. However, his position weakened subsequently after the Soviets cut off financial and advisory support as of January 1, 1992. On March 18, 1992, Najibullah publicly agreed to step down once an interim government was formed. That announcement set off rebellions by Uzbek and Tajik militia commanders in northern Afghanistan--particularly Abdul Rashid Dostam, who joined prominent mujahedin commander Ahmad Shah Masoud of the Islamic Society, a largely Tajik party headed by Burhannudin Rabbani. Masoud had earned a reputation as a brilliant strategist by preventing the Soviets from conquering his power base in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. Najibullah fell, and the mujahedin regime began April 18, 1992. |3|

The Mujahedin Government and Rise of the Taliban

The fall of Najibullah exposed rifts among the mujahedin parties. The leader of one of the smaller parties (Afghan National Liberation Front), Islamic scholar Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, was president during April-May 1992. Under an agreement among the major parties, Rabbani became president in June 1992 with agreement that he would serve until December 1994. He refused to step down at that time, saying that political authority would disintegrate without a clear successor. That decision was strongly opposed by other mujahedin leaders, including Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, a Pashtun, and leader of the Islamist conservative Hizb-e-Islam Gulbuddin mujahedin party. Hikmatyar and several allied factions fought unsuccessfully to dislodge Rabbani. Rabbani reached an agreement for Hikmatyar to serve as Prime Minister, if Hikmatyar would cease shelling Kabul. However, because of Hikmatyar's distrust of Rabbani, he never formally took office as Prime Minister, and fighting eventually destroyed much of west Kabul.

In 1993-1994, Afghan Islamic clerics and students, mostly of rural, Pashtun origin, formed the Taliban movement. Many were former mujahedin who had become disillusioned with conflict among mujahedin parties and had moved into Pakistan to study in Islamic seminaries ("madrassas") mainly of the "Deobandi" school of Islam. |4| Some say this interpretation of Islam is similar to the "Wahhabism" that is practiced in Saudi Arabia. Taliban practices were also consonant with conservative Pashtun tribal traditions. The Taliban's leader, Mullah Muhammad Umar, had been a fighter in Khalis's Hezb-i-Islam party during the anti-Soviet war--Khalis' party was generally considered moderate Islamist during the anti-Soviet war, but Khalis and his faction turned against the United States in the mid-1990s. Umar, then a low-ranking Islamic cleric, lost an eye in the anti-Soviet war.

The Taliban viewed the Rabbani government as weak, corrupt, and anti-Pashtun, and the four years of civil war between the mujahedin groups (1992-1996) created popular support for the Taliban as able to deliver stability. With the help of defections, the Taliban took control of the southern city of Qandahar in November 1994. Umar reportedly then entered the Qandahar shrine containing a purported cloak used by the Prophet Mohammad and donned it in front of hundreds of followers. |5| By February 1995, the movement's fighters were approaching Kabul. In September 1995, the Taliban captured Herat province, bordering Iran, and imprisoned its governor, Ismail Khan, ally of Rabbani and Masoud, who later escaped and took refuge in Iran. In September 1996, Taliban victories near Kabul led to the withdrawal of Rabbani and Masoud to the Panjshir Valley (north of Kabul); the Taliban took control of Kabul on September 27, 1996. Taliban gunmen entered the U.N. facility in Kabul that was sheltering Najibullah, his brother, and aides, and hanged them.

Taliban Rule (September 1996-November 2001)

The Taliban regime was led by Mullah Muhammad Umar, who held the title of Head of State and "Commander of the Faithful." He remained in the Taliban power base in Qandahar and made no public speeches or appearances, although he did occasionally receive high-level foreign officials. In May 1996, shortly before the Taliban entered Kabul, Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden relocated from Sudan to Afghanistan, where he had been a recruiter of Arab fighters during the anti-Soviet war. He initially settled in territory in Nangarhar province (near Jalalabad city) controlled by Hezb-i-Islam of Yunus Khalis (Mullah Umar's party leader), but later had freer reign as the Taliban captured territory in Afghanistan. Umar reportedly forged a political and personal bond with Bin Laden and refused U.S. demands to extradite him. Like Umar, most of the senior figures in the Taliban regime were Ghilzai Pashtuns, which predominate in eastern Afghanistan. They are rivals of the Durrani Pashtuns, who are predominant in the south.

The Taliban lost international and domestic support as it imposed strict adherence to Islamic customs in areas it controlled and employed harsh punishments, including executions. The Taliban authorized its "Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice" to use physical punishments to enforce strict Islamic practices, including bans on television, Western music, and dancing. It prohibited women from attending school or working outside the home, except in health care, and it publicly executed some women for adultery. In what many consider its most extreme action, and which some say was urged by Bin Laden, in March 2001 the Taliban blew up two large Buddha statues carved into hills above Bamiyan city, considering them idols.

U.S. Policy Toward the Taliban During Its Rule/Bin Laden Presence

The Clinton Administration opened talks with the Taliban after it captured Qandahar in 1994, and engaged the movement after it took power. However, the Administration was unable to moderate the Taliban's policies and relations worsened. The United States withheld recognition of Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, formally recognizing no faction as the government. The United Nations continued to seat representatives of the Rabbani government, not the Taliban. The State Department ordered the Afghan embassy in Washington, DC, closed in August 1997. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1193 (August 28, 1998) and 1214 (December 8, 1998) urged the Taliban to end discrimination against women. Women's rights groups urged the Clinton Administration not to recognize the Taliban government. In May 1999, the Senate-passed S.Res. 68 called on the President not to recognize an Afghan government that oppresses women.

The Taliban's hosting of Al Qaeda's leadership gradually became the Clinton Administration's overriding agenda item with Afghanistan. In April 1998, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and two other senior U.S. officials visited Afghanistan, but they did not meet Mullah Umar and the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden. After the August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clinton Administration began to strongly pressure the Taliban to extradite him, imposing U.S. sanctions on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and achieving adoption of some U.N. sanctions as well. On August 20, 1998, the United States fired cruise missiles at Al Qaeda training camps in eastern Afghanistan. |6| Some observers assert that the Administration missed several opportunities to strike bin Laden himself, including a purported sighting of him by an unarmed Predator drone at a location called Tarnak Farm in Afghanistan in the fall of 2000. |7| Clinton Administration officials said that U.S. domestic and international support for ousting the Taliban militarily was lacking.

The "Northern Alliance" Congeals

The Taliban's policies caused different Afghan factions to ally with the Tajik core of the anti-Taliban opposition--the ousted President Rabbani, Ahmad Shah Masoud, and their ally in the Herat area, Ismail Khan. Joining the Tajik factions in the broader "Northern Alliance" were Uzbek, Hazara Shiite, and even some Pashtun Islamist factions discussed below. Virtually all the figures mentioned remain key players in politics in Afghanistan, sometimes allied with and at other times adversaries of President Hamid Karzai. (One key Tajik, Vice President Muhammad Fahim, who became military commander of the Alliance after Ahmad Shah Masud on September 9, 2001, died of natural causes in March 2014. He was replaced as Vice President by another key Alliance Tajik, former parliament speaker Yunus Qanooni.) The Soviet occupation-era parties remain informally, although they currently do not generally operate under those names. (Detail on these groupings is in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman.)

  • Uzbeks/General Dostam. One major faction was the Uzbek militia (the Junbush-Melli, or National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan) of General Abdul Rashid Dostam. Frequently referred to by some Afghans as one of the "warlords" who gained power during the anti-Soviet war, Dostam first joined those seeking to oust Rabbani during his 1992-1996 presidency, but later joined him and the other Northern Alliance factions opposed to the Taliban.
  • Hazara Shiites. Members of Hazara tribes, mostly Shiite Muslims, are prominent in Bamiyan, Dai Kundi, and Ghazni provinces of central Afghanistan. During the various Afghan wars, the main Hazara Shiite militia was Hizb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party, composed of eight groups). In 1995, the Taliban captured and killed Hizb-e-Wahdat's leader Abdul Ali Mazari. One of Karzai's vice president's Karim Khalili, is a Hazara. Another prominent Hazara faction leader, Mohammad Mohaqeq, is a Karzai critic.
  • Pashtun Islamists/Sayyaf. Some Pashtuns joined the Northern Alliance in opposing the Taliban. Among them was the conservative Islamist mujahedin faction Ittihad Islami) headed by Abd-i-Rab Rasul Sayyaf. Sayyaf reportedly viewed the Taliban as selling out Afghanistan to Al Qaeda.

Bush Administration Afghanistan Policy Before September 11

Throughout 2001, but prior to the September 11 attacks, Bush Administration policy differed little from Clinton Administration policy: applying economic and political pressure on the Taliban while retaining some dialogue with it, and refusing to militarily assist the Northern Alliance. The September 11 Commission report said that, in the months prior to the September 11 attacks, Administration officials leaned toward providing such aid, as well as aiding anti-Taliban Pashtun. Additional covert options were reportedly under consideration. |8| In accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333, in February 2001 the State Department ordered the Taliban representative office in New York closed, although Taliban representative Abdul Hakim Mujahid continued to operate informally. |9| In March 2001, Administration officials received a Taliban envoy to discuss bilateral issues. In one significant departure from Clinton Administration policy, the Bush Administration stepped up engagement with Pakistan to try to reduce its support for the Taliban. At that time, there were widespread but unconfirmed allegations that Pakistani advisers were helping the Taliban in their fight against the Northern Alliance.

Even though the Northern Alliance was supplied with Iranian, Russian, and Indian financial and military support, the Northern Alliance nonetheless continued to lose ground to the Taliban after it lost Kabul in 1996. By the time of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban controlled at least 75% of the country, including almost all provincial capitals. The Alliance suffered a major setback on September 9, 2001 (two days before, and possibly a part of, the September 11 attacks), when Ahmad Shah Masoud was assassinated by Al Qaeda operatives posing as journalists. He was succeeded by a top lieutenant, Muhammad Fahim, a veteran Tajik figure but who lacked Masoud's charisma and undisputed authority (Fahim died of natural causes in early 2014).

September 11 Attacks and Operation Enduring Freedom

After the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration decided to militarily overthrow the Taliban when it refused a final U.S. offer to extradite Bin Laden in order to avoid military action. President Bush articulated a policy that equated those who harbor terrorists to terrorists themselves, and judged that a friendly regime in Kabul was needed to enable U.S. forces to search for Al Qaeda personnel there.

U.N. and Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)

The Administration sought U.N. backing for military action, although the outcome was perhaps less clear cut than was sought. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1368 of September 12, 2001, said that the Council "expresses its readiness to take all necessary steps to respond (implying force) to the September 11 attacks." This was widely interpreted as a U.N. authorization for military action in response to the attacks, but it did not explicitly authorize Operation Enduring Freedom to oust the Taliban. Nor did the Resolution specifically reference Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which allows for responses to threats to international peace and security.

In Congress, S.J.Res. 23 (passed 98-0 in the Senate and with no objections in the House, P.L. 107-40, signed September 18, 2011), was somewhat more explicit than the U.N. Resolution, authorizing: |10| "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons."

Major Combat Operations

Major combat in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) began on October 7, 2001. The U.S. effort initially consisted primarily of U.S. air-strikes on Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, facilitated by the cooperation between reported small numbers (about 1,000) of U.S. special operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency operatives. The purpose of these operations was to help the Northern Alliance and Pashtun anti-Taliban forces advance by directing U.S. air strikes on Taliban positions. Bombardment was heavy, for example, of the Shomali plain that extends to Bagram Airfield--that airport marked the forward positions of the Northern Alliance at the time of the September 11 attacks. In late October 2001, about 1,300 Marines moved into Afghanistan to pressure the Taliban around Qandahar, but there were few pitched battles between U.S. and Taliban forces.

The Taliban regime unraveled rapidly after it lost Mazar-e-Sharif on November 9, 2001 to forces led by General Dostam (who is mentioned above). |11| Northern Alliance forces--despite promises to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell that they would not enter Kabul--did so on November 12, 2001, to popular jubilation. The Taliban subsequently lost the south and east to U.S.-supported Pashtun leaders, including Hamid Karzai. The Taliban regime formally ended on December 9, 2001, when the Taliban and Mullah Umar fled Qandahar, leaving it under Pashtun tribal law.

Subsequently, U.S. and Afghan forces conducted "Operation Anaconda" in the Shah-i-Kot Valley south of Gardez (Paktia Province) during March 2-19, 2002, against 800 Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. In March 2003, about 1,000 U.S. troops raided suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters in villages around Qandahar (Operation Valiant Strike). On May 1, 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld announced an end to "major combat."

Post-Taliban Governance Established |12|

The George W. Bush Administration argued that the U.S. departure from the region after the 1989 Soviet pullout allowed Afghanistan to degenerate into chaos, and that this pattern not be repeated after the defeat of the Taliban. The Bush Administration and international partners of the United States decided to try to dismantle local security structures and try to build a relatively strong, democratic, Afghan central government and develop Afghanistan economically. The effort, which many outside experts described as "nation-building," was supported by the United Nations, international institutions, and U.S. partners.

The Obama Administration's strategy review in late 2009 initially narrowed official U.S. goals to preventing terrorism safe haven in Afghanistan, but policy in some ways expanded the preexisting nation-building effort. |13| No matter how the U.S. mission has been defined, building the capacity of and reforming Afghan governance have been consistently judged to be key to the success of U.S. policy. These objectives have been stated explicitly in each Obama Administration policy review, strategy statement, and report on progress in Afghanistan, as well as all major international conferences on Afghanistan, including the NATO summit in Chicago during May 20-21, 2012, and the Tokyo donors' conference on July 8, 2012.

The conclusion of virtually every Administration and outside assessment has been that Afghan central governmental capacity and effectiveness has increased, but that local governance remains weak and all levels of government are plagued by governmental corruption. U.S. assessments say that the deficiencies in governance could jeopardize stability after the 2014 transition. Table 1 briefly depicts the process and events that led to the formation of the post-Taliban government of Afghanistan.

Table 1. Afghanistan Political Transition Process

Interim Administration Formed by Bonn Agreement. Headed by Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun, but key security positions dominated by mostly minority "Northern Alliance." Karzai reaffirmed as leader by June 2002 "emergency loya jirga." (A jirga is a traditional Afghan assembly.)
Constitution Approved by January 2004 "Constitutional Loya Jirga" (CLJ). Set up strong presidency, a rebuke to Northern Alliance that wanted prime ministership to balance presidential power, but gave parliament significant powers to compensate. Gives men and women equal rights under the law, allows for political parties as long as they are not "un-Islamic;" allows for court rulings according to Hanafi (Sunni) Islam (Chapter 7, Article 15). Set out electoral roadmap for simultaneous (if possible) presidential, provincial, and district elections by June 2004. Named ex-King Zahir Shah to non-hereditary position of "Father of the Nation;" he died July 23, 2007.
Presidential Election Elections for president and two vice presidents, for five-year term, held October 9, 2004. Turnout was 80% of 10.5 million registered. Karzai and running mates (Ahmad Zia Masoud, a Tajik and brother of legendary mujahedin commander Ahmad Shah Masoud, who was assassinated by Al Qaeda two days before the September 11 attacks, and Karim Khalili, a Hazara) elected with 55% against 16 opponents. Second highest vote getter, Northern Alliance figure (and Education Minister) Yunus Qanooni (16%). One female ran. Funding: $90 million from donors, including $40 million from U.S. (FY2004, P.L. 108-106).
Parliamentary Elections Elections held September 18, 2005, on "Single Non-Transferable Vote" System; candidates stood as individuals, not in party list. Parliament consists of a 249 elected lower house (Wolesi Jirga, House of the People) and a selected 102 seat upper house (Meshrano Jirga, House of Elders). 2,815 candidates for Wolesi Jirga, including 347 women. Turnout was 57% (6.8 million voters) of 12.5 million registered. Upper house is appointed by Karzai (34 seats, half of which are to be women), and by the provincial councils (68 seats). When district councils are elected, they will appoint 34 of the seats. Funded by $ 160 million in international aid, including $45 million from U.S. (FY2005 supplemental, P.L. 109-13).
First Provincial Elections/District Elections Provincial elections held September 18, 2005, simultaneous with parliamentary elections. Exact powers vague, but now taking lead in deciding local reconstruction Provincial council sizes range from 9 to the 29 seats on the Kabul provincial council. Total seats are 420, of which 121 held by women. 13,185 candidates, including 279 women. District elections not held due to complexity and potential tensions of drawing district boundaries.
Second Presidential/Provincial Elections Presidential and provincial elections were held August 20, 2009, but required a runoff because no candidate received over 50% in certified results. Runoff cancelled when Dr. Abdullah dropped out. Election costs: $300 million.
Second Parliamentary Elections Originally set for May 22, 2010; held September 18, 2010. Result disputed but dispute resolved through Afghan negotiations that overturned results in some districts. Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, an ethnic Uzbek, is lower house speaker, and upper house speaker is Muslim Yaar, a Pashtun.
Third Presidential/Provincial Election First round held on April 5, 2014, and runoff between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani held on June 14. Allegations of widespread fraud not fully resolved by a full recount, but Ghani was declared the winner on September 22 pursuant to a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement between Abdullah and Ghani under which Ghani becomes President and Abdullah becomes Chief Executive Officer of government. Ghani was sworn in on September 29. He dismissed the cabinet on November 30 but he and Abdullah reportedly have not agreed to date on replacement appointees.
Third Parliamentary Elections To be held early-mid 2015.

Note: Substantial depth on Afghan elections and governance is provided in: CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance.

U.S. and International Civilian Policy Structure

U.S. and international civilian officials and institutions have helped build the capacity of the Afghan government. The U.S. embassy in Kabul, which had closed in 1989 when the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan and was guarded by Afghan caretakers, reopened after the Taliban was ousted in late 2001. The U.S. Ambassador and other high-ranking Embassy officials manage U.S. economic assistance and Embassy operations. Some U.S. civilian and coalition military personnel are assigned as advisors to Afghan ministries. Ambassador James Cunningham has been in that position since July 2012. The deputy Ambassador, Peter McKinley, has been nominated to succeed him, and three other Ambassador-level officials serve at the embassy in various capacities.

Regarding Afghanistan policymaking, in February 2009, the Administration set up the position of appointed "Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan" (SRAP), occupied first by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, reporting to Secretary of State Clinton. Holbrooke died on December 13, 2010, and that office at the State Department was led during February 2011-November 2012 by Ambassador Marc Grossman. In May 2013, he was replaced by Ambassador James Dobbins. He retired in July 2014 and has been replaced by deputy SRAP Dan Feldman.

As the military aspect of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan winds down, the Administration has sought to "normalize" its presence in Afghanistan. From 2009 to 2012, the U.S. civilian presence expanded dramatically to mentor and advise the Afghan government, particularly at the local level. Since 2011, there have been about 1,300 U.S. civilian officials in Afghanistan--up from only about 400 in 2009--of which about one-third serve outside Kabul helping build governance at the provincial and district levels. That is up from only 67 outside Kabul in 2009. However, the State Department is planning for a 20% reduction in staff by the completion of the transition in 2014. The State Department is planning to assume the lead role in Afghanistan, as it did in Iraq, and all U.S. personnel, including military, will be under Embassy authority after 2016 as announced by President Obama on May 27, 2014.

On February 7, 2010, in an effort to improve civilian coordination between the United States, its foreign partners, and the Afghan government, the powers of the NATO "Senior Civilian Representative" in Afghanistan were enhanced as UK Ambassador Mark Sedwill took office. This office works with U.S. military officials, officials of partner countries, and the special U.N. Assistance Mission-Afghanistan (UNAMA, see Table 2). Since June 2013, that position has been held by Dutch senior diplomat Maurits Jochems.

Consulates. In June 2010, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns formally inaugurated a U.S. consulate in Herat. The State Department spent about $80 million on a facility in Mazar-e-Sharif that was slated to open as a U.S. consulate in April 2012, but the site was abandoned because of concerns about the security of the facility. A U.S. consulate there is considered an important signal of U.S. interest in engagement with the Tajik and Uzbek minorities of Afghanistan. Alternative locations are being considered, |14| and consulates are planned for the major cities of Qandahar and Jalalabad. The tables at the end of this report include U.S. funding for State Department and USAID operations.

Table 2. U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

The United Nations is extensively involved in Afghan governance and national building, primarily in factional conflict resolution and coordination of development assistance. The coordinator of U.N. efforts is the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). It was headed during March 20I0-December 20II by Swedish diplomat Staffan de-Mistura, replacing Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide. Slovakian diplomat Jan Kubis replaced him in January 20I2.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1806 of March 20, 2008, expanded UNAMA's authority to strengthen cooperation between the international peacekeeping force (ISAF, see below) and the Afghan government. In concert with the Obama Administration's emphasis on Afghan policy, UNAMA opened offices in many of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. On March 19, 2013, the mandate of UNAMA, was renewed for another year (until March 19, 2014) by Resolution 2096. Resolution 2096 reiterates the expanded UNAMA mandate, while noting that UNAMA and the international community are moving to a supporting role rather than as direct deliverers of services in Afghanistan. Resolution 2096 restated UNAMA's coordinating role with other high-level representatives in Afghanistan and election support role, as well as its role in reintegration of surrendering insurgent fighters through a "Salaam (Peace) Support Group" that coordinates with Afghanistan's High Peace Council (that is promoting reconciliation and reintegration). UNAMA has always been involved in local dispute resolution and disarmament of local militias,

UNAMA is also playing a growing role in engaging regional actors in Afghan stability. It was a co-convener of the January 28, 2010, and July 20, 2010, London and Kabul Conferences, respectively. Along with Turkey, UNAMA chairs a "Regional Working Group" to enlist regional support for Afghan integration.

On development, UNAMA co-chairs the joint Afghan-international community coordination body called the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), and is helping implement Afghanistan's development strategy based on Afghanistan's "National Strategy for Development," presented on June I2, 2008, in Paris. However, UNAMA's donor coordination role did not materialize because of the large numbers and size of donor-run projects in Afghanistan.

For more background on UNAMA, see CRS Report R40747, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues, by Rhoda Margesson.

Afghan Ambassador to the United States Sayed Tayib Jawad served as Ambassador from 2004 until his recall in August 2010. Then-deputy Foreign Minister Eklil Hakimi replaced him on February 23, 2011. Hakimi was Afghanistan's chief negotiator of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), discussed later.

Security Policy: Transition, and Beyond |15|

The Obama Administration's stated policy goal is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for terrorist organizations. The Administration has defined that goal as enabling the Afghan government and security forces to defend the country and govern effectively and transparently. The U.S. security mission changed from combat leadership to a "support" role on June 18, 2013. Even with Afghan forces in the lead, many of the long-standing pillars of U.S. and NATO security strategy remain intact until the end of 2014. The United States is partnered with 49 other countries and the Afghan government and security forces. On February 10, 2013, Marine General Joseph Dunford became top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. In late August 2014, General John Campbell succeeded Dunford.

Who Is "The Enemy"? Taliban, Haqqani, Al Qaeda, and Others

Security in Afghanistan is challenged by several armed groups, loosely allied with each other. There is not agreement about the relative strength of insurgents in the areas where they operate.

The Taliban

The core insurgent faction in Afghanistan remains the Taliban movement, much of which remains at least nominally loyal to Mullah Muhammad Umar, leader of the Taliban regime during 19962001. He and those subordinates reportedly still operate from Pakistan, probably areas near the border or near the Pakistani city of Quetta. In recent years, Umar has lost some of this top aides and commanders to combat or arrest, including Mullah Dadullah, Mullah Obeidullah Akhund, and Mullah Usmani.

Some of Umar's inner circle has remained intact and appear to have become increasingly amenable to a political settlement. Mullah Abdul Ghani Bradar, a top Umar deputy arrested by Pakistan in February 2010 for purportedly trying to engage in negotiations with the Afghan government without Pakistani concurrence, was released in September 2013. Umar and Bradar are purportedly pragmatists who blame their past association with Al Qaeda for their loss of power. Signals of Umar's potential for compromise have been several statements in recent years, including one on October 24, 2012, that the Taliban does not seek to regain a monopoly of power. He also was reportedly pivotal in reaching final agreement in the May 31, 2014, release of prisoner of war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, discussed further below. However, the Taliban warned Afghans not to vote in the 2014 presidential election process and claimed responsibility for several attacks on election-related targets before and during the voting. Other purported pragmatists include Noorudin Turabi, logistics expert Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, and head of the Taliban's senior shura council, Shahabuddin Delawar.

There are also a substantial number of anti-compromise leaders in the top Taliban ranks. They include Mullah Najibullah (a.k.a. Umar Khatab) and Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir. Zakir, a U.S. detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until 2007, was the top military commander of the Taliban until resigning for health reasons in April 2014. He remains part of the Taliban inner decisionmaking circle. The hardliners purportedly believes outright Taliban victory is possible as international forces thin out. The Taliban has several official spokespersons, including Qari Yusuf Ahmadi and Zabiullah Mujahid. It operates a radio station, "Voice of Shariat," and publishes videos.

Al Qaeda

U.S. officials have long considered Al Qaeda to have a minimal presence in Afghanistan itself, acting there as more a facilitator of rather than a fighting force. U.S. officials put the number of Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at between 50-100, |16| operating mostly in provinces of northeastern Afghanistan such as Kunar. DOD has expressed concerns that Al Qaeda could regroup in Afghanistan if the security situation there becomes unstable. Admiral William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on February 27, 2014, that Al Qaeda could reestablish itself in Afghanistan if all U.S. troops depart Afghanistan. Press reports say a key Al Qaeda operative, Faruq a-Qahtani al-Qatari, is working with Afghan militants to train a new generation of Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. |17|

Some outside experts assert that Al Qaeda is far more active in Afghanistan than the DOD assessments indicate. These experts point to the fact that U.S. airstrikes as recently as October 2014 killed Al Qaeda operative Abu Bara Al Kuwaiti in Nangarhar Province, and that an Al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), might have as many as 300 fighters in Konduz Province alone. The IMU contingent in Afghanistan reportedly is led by Qari Balal, who escaped from a Pakistani jail in 2010. |18|

Until the death of Bin Laden at the hands of a U.S. Special Operations Force raid on May 1, 2011, there had been frustration within the U.S. government with the search for Al Qaeda's top leaders. In December 2001, in the course of the post-September 11 major combat effort, U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA operatives reportedly narrowed Osama Bin Laden's location to the Tora Bora mountains in Nangarhar Province (30 miles west of the Khyber Pass), but Afghan militia fighters surrounding the area did not prevent his escape into Pakistan. Some U.S. officials later publicly questioned the U.S. decision to rely mainly on Afghan forces in this engagement.

U.S. efforts to find remaining senior Al Qaeda leaders reportedly focus on his close ally Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also presumed to be on the Pakistani side of the border and who was named new leader of Al Qaeda in June 2011. A U.S. strike reportedly missed Zawahiri by a few hours in the village of Damadola, Pakistan, in January 2006. |19| Many observers say that Zawahiri is increasingly focused on empowering Islamic movements to power in the region, particularly in his native Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammad Morsi, became president but then was ousted by the Egyptian military in July 2013.

Some senior Al Qaeda leaders are said to be in Iran, including Sayf al Adl. Sulayman Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of bin Laden and Al Qaeda spokesperson, was expelled by Iran in March 2013 and taken into custody by U.S. authorities as he tried to return to his native Kuwait.

U.S. efforts--primarily through armed unmanned aerial vehicles--have killed numerous other senior Al Qaeda operatives in recent years. In August 2008, an airstrike was confirmed to have killed Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri. Two senior operatives allegedly involved in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa reportedly were killed by an unmanned aerial vehicle strike in January 2009. Three top leaders, Ilyas Kashmiri, Attiyah Abd al-Rahman, and Abu Yahya al-Libi were killed in Pakistan by reported U.S. drone strikes in June and August 2011 and June 2012, respectively.

Hikmatyar Faction (HIG)

Another significant insurgent leader is former mujahedin party leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, who leads Hizb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin (HIG). The faction received extensive U.S. support against the Soviet Union, but turned against its mujahedin colleagues after the Communist government fell in 1992. The Taliban displaced HIG as the main opposition to the 1992-1996 Rabbani government. HIG currently is ideologically and politically allied with the Taliban insurgents, but HIG fighters sometimes clash with the Taliban over control of territory in HIG's main centers of activity in provinces to the north and east of Kabul. HIG is not widely considered a major factor on the Afghanistan battlefield and has focused primarily on high-profile attacks. A suicide bombing on September 18, 2012, which killed 12 persons, including eight South African nationals working for a USAID-chartered air service, was allegedly carried out by a female HIG member. HIG claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kabul on May 16, 2013, that killed six Americans (two soldiers and four contractors). On February 19, 2003, the U.S. government formally designated Hikmatyar as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," under Executive Order 13224, subjecting it to a freeze of any U.S.-based assets. The group is not designated as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" (FTO).

HIG is nonetheless widely considered amenable to reconciliation with Kabul. In January 2010, Hikmatyar set conditions for reconciliation, including elections under a neutral caretaker government following a U.S. withdrawal. On March 22, 2010, the Afghan government and HIG representatives confirmed talks in Kabul, including meetings with Karzai, and Karzai subsequently acknowledged additional meetings. Some close to Hikmatyar attended the government's consultative peace loya jirga on June 2-4, 2010, which discussed issue of reconciliation with the insurgency. HIG figures met Afghan government representatives at a June 2012 academic conference in Paris and a subsequent meeting in Chantilly, France, in December 2012. In January 2014, Hikmatyar reportedly told his partisans to vote in the April 5, 2014, Afghan elections--guidance interpreted as an attempt to position HIG for a future political role.

Haqqani Faction |20|

The "Haqqani Network," founded by Jalaludin Haqqani, a mujahedin commander and U.S. ally during the U.S.-backed war against the Soviet Union, is often cited by U.S. officials as a potent threat to Afghan security. The Defense Department report on Afghan security calls the faction "the most virulent strain of the insurgency, the greatest risk to coalition forces, and a critical enabler of Al Qaeda." |21| Jalaludin Haqqani served in the Taliban regime (1996-2001) as Minister of Tribal Affairs, and his network has since fought against the Karzai government. The Haqqani Network is believed closer to Al Qaeda than to the Taliban--in part because one of the elder Haqqani's wives is Arab. Over the past few years, he has delegated operation control to his son Siraj (Sirajjudin). Two other sons Badruddin and Nasruddin were killed by U.S. and Pakistani operations in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The deaths of some of the Haqqani's sons and other relatives reinforced assessments that the Haqqani Network's influence in its core base of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost provinces of Afghanistan was waning. Some prominent Afghan clans in those areas are said to have drifted from the Haqqani orbit to focus on participating in the Afghan political process. The Haqqani Network had about 3,000 fighters and supporters at its zenith during 2004-2010, but its size as of 2014 is not known. The Haqqani Network's earns funds through licit and illicit businesses in Pakistan and the Persian Gulf and in controlling parts of Khost Province.

Potentially countering assessments of its declining strength, attacks in July 2014 bore the hallmarks of the Haqqani Network. One attack was a truck bomb that killed 72 persons at a market in eastern Afghanistan. The other was a grenade attack on the well-guarded Kabul International Airport. |22| If these operations were conducted by the Haqqani Network, it is possible that the group might be gathering momentum again as international troops thin out.

Suggesting it often acts as a tool of Pakistani interests, the Haqqani network has targeted several Indian interests in Afghanistan, almost all of which have been located outside the Haqqani main base of operations in eastern Afghanistan. The network claimed responsibility for two attacks on India's embassy in Kabul (July 2008 and October 2009), and is considered the likely perpetrator of the August 4, 2013, attack on India's consulate in Jalalabad. U.S. officials also attributed to the group the June 28, 2011, attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul; a September 10, 2011, truck bombing in Wardak Province (which injured 77 U.S. soldiers); and attacks on the U.S. Embassy and ISAF headquarters in Kabul on September 13, 2011.

The attacks on Indian interests and the fact that it is at least tolerated in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan supports those who allege that it has ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), which might view the Haqqanis as a potential ally in Afghanistan. Then Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen, following September 2011 attacks on U.S. Embassy Kabul, testified (Senate Armed Services Committee) on September 22, 2011, that the Haqqani network acts "as a veritable arm" of the ISI. Other U.S. officials issued more caveated versions of that assertion.

Even as the group continues to conduct attacks, top Haqqani commander have reportedly told journalists that the Haqqani Network would participate in political settlement talks with the United States if Taliban leader Mullah Umar decided to undertake such talks. |23| A Haqqani representative reportedly was part of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, that briefly opened on June 18, 2013.

The faction's possible participation in a settlement could potentially be complicated by its designation as an FTO under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In July 2010, then-top U.S. commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus advocated that the Haqqani network be named as an FTO. |24| Some in the State Department reportedly opposed an FTO designation because that could create pressure to name Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. A number of Haqqani leaders had already been sanctioned as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. In the 112th Congress, S. 1959 (Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012), enacted on August 10, 2012 (P.L. 112-168) required, within 30 days of enactment, an Administration report on whether the group meets the criteria for FTO designation and an explanation of a negative decision. On September 9, 2012, the Administration reported to Congress that the Haqqani Network meets the FTO designation criteria and it was designated.

Pakistani Groups Active in Afghanistan

A major Pakistani group, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP), primarily challenges the government of Pakistan but also supports the Afghan Taliban. Some TTP fighters reportedly operate from safe havens in Taliban-controlled areas on the Afghan side of the border. Based in part on a failed bombing in New York City in May 2010 allegedly by the TTP, the State Department designated the TTP as an FTO on September 2, 2010. Its two prior leaders, Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud, were killed by U.S. drone strikes in August 2009 and November 2013, respectively.

Another Pakistani Islamist militant group said to be increasingly active inside Afghanistan is Laskhar-e-Tayyiba (LET, or Army of the Righteous). LET was initially focused on operations against Indian control of Kashmir, but reportedly is increasingly active elsewhere in South Asia and elsewhere. The State Department has stated that the group was responsible for the May 23, 2014, attack on India's consulate in Herat. Another Pakistan-based group that is somewhat active in Afghanistan is Lashkar-i-Janghvi--it was accused of several attacks on Afghanistan's Hazara Shiite community during 2011-2012.

Insurgent Tactics

As far as tactics, prior to 2011, U.S. commanders worried most about insurgent use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including roadside bombs. In January 2010, President Karzai issued a decree banning importation of fertilizer chemicals (ammonium nitrate) commonly used for the roadside bombs, but there reportedly is informal circumvention of the ban for certain civilian uses, and the material reportedly still comes into Afghanistan from production plants in Pakistan. U.S. commanders have said they have verified some use of surface-to-air missiles, |25| although missiles apparently were not used in the Taliban's downing of a U.S. Chinook helicopter that killed 30 U.S. soldiers on August 6, 2011.

Some insurgents have used bombs hidden in turbans. Turbans are generally not searched--out of respect for Afghan religious traditions and out of respect for visitors and guests to Afghan functions. Such a bomb killed former President Rabbani on September 20, 2011 and then-President Karzai's cousin Hashmat Karzai on July 29, 2014. A suicide bomber who wounded then-intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid in December 2012 had explosives implanted in his body.

A major concern has been "insider attacks" (attacks on ISAF forces by Afghan security personnel, also known as "green on blue" attacks). |26| These attacks, some of which apparently were carried out by Taliban infiltrators into the Afghan forces, were particularly frequent in 2012 and have continued since. On August 5, 2014, an apparent insider attack killed Maj. Gen. Harold Greene during his visit to Afghanistan's most prestigious military academy outside Kabul.

Insurgent Financing: Narcotics Trafficking and Other Methods |27|

All of the insurgent groups in Afghanistan benefit, at least in part, from narcotics trafficking. However, the adverse effects are not limited to funding insurgents; the trafficking also undermines rule of law within government ranks. The trafficking generates an estimated $70 million-$100 million per year for insurgents--perhaps about 25% of the insurgents' budgets estimated by some U.N. accounts at about $400 million. For a detailed analysis of narcotics issue and U.S. and coalition counternarcotics efforts, see CRS Report R43540, Afghanistan: Drug Trafficking and the 2014 Transition, by Liana Rosen and Kenneth Katzman.

The Obama Administration has placed additional focus on other sources of Taliban funding, including continued donations from wealthy residents of the Persian Gulf. On June 29, 2012, the Administration sanctioned (by designating them as terrorism supporting entities under Executive Order 13224) two money exchange networks (hawalas) in Afghanistan and Pakistan allegedly used by the Taliban to move its funds earned from narcotics and other sources. However, the sanctions depend on foreign cooperation against these funding channels and will likely have limited effect on the networks' operations in the South Asia region.

The U.S.-Led Military Effort: 2001-2008

During 2002-2009, most U.S. forces were in eastern Afghanistan, leading Regional Command East (RC-E) of the NATO/ISAF operation. The most restive provinces in RC-E have been Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kunar, and Nuristan. Helmand, Qandahar, Uruzgan, Zabol, Nimruz, and Dai Kundi provinces constituted a "Regional Command South (RC-S)"--formally transferred to NATO/ISAF responsibility on July 31, 2006. The increased U.S. troop strength in RC-S in 2009 and 2010--a product of the fact that most of the 2009-2010 U.S. "surge" was focused on the south--prompted a May 2010 NATO decision to bifurcate RC-S, with the United States leading a "southwest" subdivision (RC-SW) for Helmand and Nimruz and later taking command of both RC-S and RC-SW. Germany has commanded RC-North, headquartered in Konduz, and Italy has led RC-West, based in Herat. Turkey has commanded ISAF forces in Kabul since 2011.

During 2001 to mid-2006, U.S. forces and Afghan troops fought relatively low levels of insurgent violence with focused combat operations mainly in the south and east where ethnic Pashtuns predominate. These included "Operation Mountain Viper" (August 2003); "Operation Avalanche" (December 2003); "Operation Mountain Storm" (March-July 2004); "Operation Lightning Freedom" (December 2004-February 2005); and "Operation Pil" (Elephant, October 2005). By late 2005, U.S. and partner commanders considered the insurgency mostly defeated and NATO/ISAF assumed lead responsibility for security in all of Afghanistan during 2005-2006. The optimistic assessments proved misplaced when violence increased significantly in mid-2006.

NATO operations during 2006-2008 cleared key districts but did not prevent subsequent re-infiltration. NATO/ISAF also tried preemptive combat and increased development work, without durable success. As a result, growing U.S. concern took hold, reflected in such statements as one in September 2008 by then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that "I'm not sure we're winning" in Afghanistan.

Reasons for the security deterioration included popular unrest over corruption in the Afghan government; the absence of governance or security forces in many rural areas; the safe haven enjoyed by militants in Pakistan; the reluctance of some NATO contributors to actively combat insurgents; a popular backlash against civilian casualties caused by military operations; and unrealized expectations of economic development. Even as they sought to address many of these factors, the United States and its partners decided to respond primarily by increasing force levels. U.S. troop levels started 2006 at 30,000 and increased to 39,000 by April 2009. Partner forces also increased during that period to 39,000 at the end of 2009--rough parity with U.S. forces. In September 2008, the U.S. military and NATO each began strategy reviews, which were briefed to the incoming Obama Administration.

Obama Administration Policy: "Surge" and Transition

The Obama Administration maintained that Afghanistan needed to be given a higher priority than it was during the Bush Administration, but that the U.S. level of effort in the mission in Afghanistan not be indefinite. The Administration integrated the reviews underway at the end of the Bush Administration's into an overarching 60-day inter-agency "strategy review," chaired by South Asia expert Bruce Riedel and co-chaired by then-SRAP Holbrooke and then-Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. President Obama announced a "comprehensive" strategy on March 27, 2009 |28| that announced deployment of an additional 21,000 U.S. forces.

McChrystal Assessment and December 1, 2009, Surge Announcement

On May 11, 2009, General McKiernan was replaced by General Stanley McChrystal, who headed U.S. Special Operations forces from 2003 to 2008. He assumed the command on June 15, 2009, and, on August 30, 2009, delivered a strategy assessment that recommended that |29|

  • the goal of the U.S. military should be to protect the population rather than to focus on searching out and combating Taliban concentrations. The assessment stated that indicators of success such as ease of road travel, participation in local shuras, and normal life for families are more significant than counts of enemy fighters killed.
  • there is potential for "mission failure" unless a fully resourced, comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy is pursued to reverse Taliban momentum within 12-18 months. About 44,000 additional U.S. combat troops would be needed to provide the greatest chance for success.

The assessment set off debate within the Administration and another policy review. Some senior U.S. officials, such as then-Secretary of Defense Gates, were concerned that adding many more U.S. forces could create among the Afghan people a potentially counterproductive sense of "occupation." President Obama announced the following at West Point academy on December 1, 2009: |30|

  • That 30,000 additional U.S. forces (a "surge") would be sent to "reverse the Taliban's momentum" and strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government. The addition would bring U.S. force levels to 100,000.
  • There would be a transition, beginning in July 2011, to Afghan leadership of the stabilization effort and a corresponding drawdown of U.S. force levels. The Obama Administration argued this transition would compel the Afghan government to place greater effort on training its own forces. However, Afghan and regional officials viewed the deadline as signaling a rapid decrease in U.S. involvement. |31| To address that perception, the November 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon decided on a gradual transition to Afghan leadership that would be completed by the end of 2014.

On June 23, 2010, President Obama accepted the resignation of General McChrystal after comments by him and his staff to Rolling Stone magazine that disparaged several U.S. civilian policy makers on Afghanistan. General Petraeus was named General McChrystal's successor; he assumed command on July 4, 2010.

Table 3. Summary of Current U.S. Strategy and Implementation

Goals: To prevent Al Qaeda or other international terrorist organizations from again taking root in Afghanistan.

U.S. Strategy Definition: To transfer full responsibility to the Afghan security forces by the end of 2014 and leave in place, until the end of 2016, a residual force of mostly trainers and some Special Operations forces conducting combat. Contingent on Afghan signature of a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that grants U.S. troops immunity from Afghan law.

Surge and then Drawdown: Following the 2009 "surge," U.S. force levels reached a high of 100,000 in mid-2011, then fell to 68,000 ("surge recovery) by September 20, 2012; and to 34,000 by February 2014. Current U.S. force level is about 30,000. 9,800 forces will remain during 2015, deployed around the country, and shrinking to about 5,000 in 2016, but limited to Kabul and Bagram Airfield. Beginning in 2017, the force will be several hundred military personnel who primarily will administer arms sales and assist Afghan security ministries (with no separate U.S. or NATO military chain of command in country).

Long-Term Broad Engagement: A strategic partnership agreement (SPA), signed in Kabul on May 1, 2012, pledges U.S. security and economic assistance to Afghanistan until 2024. U.S. economic and Afghan force train and equip funding pledged by U.S. to remain roughly at current levels (about $6 billion total) through FY20I7.

Reintegration and Reconciliation: To support Afghan efforts to reach a settlement with insurgent leaders.

Pakistan/Regional: To enlist Pakistan's commitment to deny safe haven in Pakistan to Taliban and other Afghan militants.

Economic Development: To build an economy that can be self-sufficient by 2024 by further developing agriculture, collecting corporate taxes and customs duties, exploiting vast mineral deposits, expanding small industries, and integrating Afghanistan into regional diplomatic and trading and investment structures.

Transition and Drawdown: Afghans in the Lead

Prior to the implementation of the U.S. "surge," the Afghan Interior Ministry estimated (August 2009) that the Karzai government controlled about 30% of the country, while insurgents controlled 4% (13 out of 364 districts) and influenced or operated in another 30%. Tribes and local groups with varying degrees of loyalty to the central government controlled the remainder. Some outside groups report higher percentages of insurgent control or influence. |32| The Taliban had named "shadow governors" in 33 out of 34 of Afghanistan's provinces, although many provinces in northern Afghanistan were assessed as having minimal Taliban presence.

Despite doubts about the durability of progress, the results of the surge were considered sufficient to permit the transition to Afghan security leadership to begin on schedule in July 2011. The transition was divided into five "tranches"-- the first was announced in March 2011, the second in November 2011, the third in May 2012, the fourth (52 districts) on December 31, 2012, and the fifth and final tranche (91 districts along the Pakistan border) on June 18, 2013. The process of completing the transition to Afghan responsibility takes 12-18 months.

Afghan Forces Assume Lead Operational Role in June 2013

The announcement of the final tranche coincided with the announcement by then-President Karzai and visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on June 18, 2013 that Afghan forces had formally assumed the lead role throughout Afghanistan. In concert with the transition, and asserting that the killing of Osama Bin Laden represented a key accomplishment of the core U.S. mission, on June 22, 2011, President Obama announced that:

  • 10,000 U.S. forces would be withdrawn by the end of 2011. That drawdown brought U.S. force levels down to 90,000.
  • 23,000 forces (the remainder of the surge forces) would be withdrawn by September 2012. This draw-down, completed in September 20, 2012, brought down U.S. force levels to 68,000.

In the February 12, 2013, State of the Union message, President Obama announced that U.S. force level would drop to 34,000 by February 2014. (This reduction was completed.) The remainder of the U.S. contingent that will exit by the end of 2014 deadline is being withdrawn gradually. The U.S. force level is expected has shrunk to just over 20,000 as of the end of November, and will fall further to 9,800 (residual force discussed below) by the end of 2014.

In concert with the U.S. drawdown, U.S. airpower in country has been reduced, limiting the capability to conduct strikes against insurgent positions. |33| ISAF has closed the vast majority of the nearly 400 bases they have used around Afghanistan, including transferring to Afghan authority in October 2014 the large Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion bases in Helmand Province. The provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs), discussed below, have mostly been turned over to Afghan institutions. DOD is disposing of about $36 billion worth of U.S. military equipment, including 28,000 vehicles and trailers. Some equipment is being resold to other buyers, including Afghan businesses, at large discounts. Some of the equipment is being returned to the United States. |34|

Some in Congress had expressed support for winding down the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan more rapidly than the rate implemented by the Administration. In the 112th Congress, after the death of Osama Bin Laden, an amendment to the defense authorization bill (H.R. 1540) requiring a plan to accelerate the transition to Afghan-lead security failed by a vote of 204-215 on May 26, 2011. On May 25, 2011, an amendment to that same bill requiring the withdrawal of most U.S. forces failed 123-294. A provision of the FY2013 defense authorization bill (Section 1226 of P.L. 112-239) expressed the Sense of Congress that the United States draw down troops at a steady pace through the end of 2014.

Post-2014 Residual Force and 2016 Planned Exit

Assessing that Afghan forces will need continued support after 2014, President Obama announced on May 27, 2014, the size of the post-2014 U.S. force and plan for an eventual U.S. military exit from Afghanistan after 2016. According to President Obama's May 27 announcement |35| and subsequent announcements, the post-2014 force will be as follows:

  • The U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan is to be 9,800 in 2015, deployed in various parts of Afghanistan, consisting mostly of trainers as part of an overall NATO non-combat mission called "Resolute Support Mission" (RSM). The commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces, Lieutenant General Joseph Votel, testified at his confirmation hearings on July 10, 2014, that about 2,000 of the post-2014 U.S. force will be Special Operations Forces, of which about 980 would directly support a counterterrorism mission. |36|
  • The NATO summit in Wales September 4-5, 2014, announced that the total force for RSM will be about 12,000. Of that amount, about 3,000 - 4,000 will be from NATO and other partner countries. Turkey will lead RSM in the Kabul area, Germany will lead in the north, Italy will lead in the west, and the United States will lead in the south and east. Germany and Italy have committed 800 forces each; Georgia has committed about 750; Australia, 450; and Romania, 250. In concert with this transition, the "regional commands" discussed above are now called "Train, Advise, and Assist Commands" (TAACs).
  • As of January 1, 2016, the U.S. force will decline to 4,900 based in Kabul and at Bagram Airfield. The size of the total 2016 RSM force has not been announced to date.
  • After 2016, the U.S. military presence will decline to one consistent with normal security relations with Afghanistan--a figure assessed at about 1,000 by experts. The forces will be under U.S. Chief-of-Mission authority and there will be no separate U.S. or NATO military chain of command in country. The U.S. forces will primarily protect U.S. installations and help process Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of weaponry to Afghanistan, which includes training the Afghans on weapons delivered.

Debate Over Post-2014 Security Outcomes Produces Mission Alterations

President Obama's May 27 troop drawdown schedule announcement stimulated debate over how Afghanistan will fare after 2014. U.S. and other experts and Afghan leaders supported the announcement with respect to planned 2015 and 2016 force levels, but expressed concern about the virtual complete departure of international forces after 2016. The Administration asserted that a full military departure from Afghanistan will free up U.S. resources for anti-terrorism missions elsewhere and focus the Afghans on improving their training and organization that they require to operate on their own after 2016.

Supporters of the drawdown schedule often quote from recent Defense Department reports and comments. The latest DOD reports on security and stability in Afghanistan assess that the ANSF has been able to maintain the gains made by ISAF; that is leads 99% of all operations (as of October 1, 2014); that the ANSF "seized the initiative" from insurgents ahead of the presidential run-off election in June; and that the ANSF typically overmatches its opposition in engagements. The reports note that the overwhelming majority of violence occurs in areas with only 25% of the Afghan population, and that the Taliban is rejected by the population. U.S. commanders have described the Taliban as likely to be a persistent, though not an "existential" threat, over the longer term. On October 2, 2014, after more than one month in command, Gen. Campbell stated that "I'm very confident the Afghan forces have the capability to withstand the fight internally. They're very confident as well." |37| He also praised the newly inaugurated President Ghani for embracing the ANSF immediately upon taking office.

Others assert that the ANSF will not be able to secure Afghanistan if left almost completely on its own by 2016, and that there could be substantial Taliban gains as international forces thin out. A reported National Intelligence Estimate of late 2013 assessed that, even with continued international force support, Afghan security is likely to erode significantly by 2017 as both insurgents and pro-government faction leaders increase their geographic and political influence. |38| A report by the Center for Naval Analyses, mandated by the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act, entitled "Independent Assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces," released February 2014, says, "We conclude that the security environment in Afghanistan will become more challenging after the drawdown of most international forces in 2014, and that the Taliban insurgency will become a greater threat to Afghanistan's stability in the 2015-2018 timeframe than it is now." |39|

Events in mid-late 2014 also indicate the difficulties the ANSF faces as they try to keep the Taliban at bay with decreasing international support. Some ANSF units have entered into local ceasefires with Taliban forces in restive areas of Afghanistan. U.S. commanders have said that ANSF losses of about 4,000 combat deaths for each of 2013 and 2014 represent "unsustainable" losses. The Taliban has been challenging the ANSF in several districts of northern Helmand province as of mid-2014. In June 2014, about 600 Taliban fighters attacked government forces in several of the province's districts, making some gains. In July 2014, Taliban fighters attempted to storm provincial governance and security offices in the key city of Qandahar, and overran a center of one of the province's districts near the border with Pakistan. In late September, an offensive in Ghazni province enabled the militants to gain control of the Arjestan district of the province, where they set fire to 60 houses and beheaded at least 12 relatives of ANSF personnel. During September - November 2014, Taliban and other militants have conducted a campaign of attacks in Kabul itself, including against prominent women's activist Shukria Barekzai, a guesthouse for a foreign aid agency, Kabul police headquarters, and numerous other locations. The attacks prompted Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir to offer to resign on December 1, 2014; the government rejected the resignation.

Criticism of the post-2014 U.S. posture in Afghanistan has been fueled in part by the June 2014 capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul by the Islamic State organization, and the corresponding collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in northern Iraq. Administration critics argued that the decision to leave no significant residual troop force in Iraq after 2011 contributed to the growth of the Islamic State's strength there, and that a similar pattern will develop in Afghanistan if substantial numbers of troops are not left there.

Many experts assert that factional militias will reorganize to deter or prevent Taliban gains as the international force presence diminishes. Herat leader Ismail Khan reportedly has already begun taking steps to reorganize his Soviet and Taliban-era militia. Prior to his death in March 2014, then-Vice President Muhammad Fahim discussed potentially reconstituting the Northern Alliance force in anticipation of the need to assist Afghan government forces against the Taliban. Prior to joining the candidacy of Ashraf Ghani in the 2014 presidential election process, Afghan Uzbek leader Dostam also reportedly was reorganizing his armed loyalists in northern Afghanistan. These and similar moves could spark ethnic and communal conflict from an all-out struggle for power and a reversion to Afghan rule by faction leaders rather than elected leaders--particularly if the power sharing arrangement between Abdullah and Ghani were to break down.

Administration Alters Some Post-2014 Rules of Engagement

In a sign that some within the U.S. military were skeptical of U.S. and NATO strategy for the post-2014 period, Gen. Campbell announced shortly after taking command that he was undertaking his own review of the U.S. and NATO military effort. Possibly reflecting concerns within the U.S., NATO, and Afghan command structure, on November 2014 it was reported that President Obama had secretly altered the rules of engagement for U.S. forces for the post-2014 period. Rather than be limited to training and advising after 2014, all 9,800 U.S. forces (not just the counter-terrorism units) would be able to carry out combat missions against militants who threaten the U.S. forces or the Afghan government. The President's order also reportedly allows U.S. combat aircraft (and drones) to provide close air support to Afghan forces after 2014 -soothing Afghan concerns that a removal of U.S. airpower from Afghanistan would place the ANSF at severe risk. |40|

To date, the Administration reportedly has not altered its post-2016 troop planning for Afghanistan, asserting that only successful Afghan governance can keep Afghanistan stable over the long term. |41| However, the alteration of the post-2014 rules of engagement for U.S. forces, combined with the continuing difficulty Iraqi forces face confronting the Islamic State with minimal outside help, indicates an increasing likelihood that the post-2016 U.S. and NATO force will ultimately be enlarged beyond what has been announced.

Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA)

The post-2014 U.S. military presence has been contingent on signature of the BSA. Ex-President Karzai refused to sign the document after Afghanistan and the United States finalized it in November 2013, after several months of negotiations over outstanding issues such as U.S. operational authority and an Afghan demand for a security guarantee. |42| Karzai apparently relented on the demand that the United States protect Afghanistan from Pakistan, and the United States reportedly agreed to coordinate with the Afghan security forces on post-2014 anti-Al Qaeda operations. Karzai stated that the decision on legal immunities for U.S. forces in Afghanistan--a non-negotiable U.S. requirement--would be placed before the Afghan National Assembly (parliament) and a special loya jirga--a traditional Afghan assembly composed of about 2,500 notables convened to consider major issues. As the loya jirga began to convene on November 21, 2013, Secretary Kerry announced that the two sides had finalized all points of the BSA. The loya jirga concluded on November 24, 2013, with a decision to authorize Karzai to sign the agreement. |43|

However, Karzai subsequently stated that the signature be left to his successor, who will have to implement it. Karzai might have also been trying to address domestic pressure from those who saw the BSA as a forfeiture of Afghan sovereignty; pressure from Iran not to have U.S. forces in the region; possible concerns that signing the document would immediately render Karzai irrelevant to international powers. Karzai might have also perceived that refusing to sign the agreement would induce the Taliban to negotiate a political solution.

As presidential candidates, both Abdullah and Ghani pledged to sign the BSA. U.S. officials and commanders expressed concern that the long dispute over the Afghan presidential election delayed the signature further and was complicating U.S. and partner country planning for the post-2014 security mission. A similar agreement between Afghanistan and post-2014 NATO force contributors was modeled on the U.S.-Afghanistan BSA. The United States and NATO had hoped that the agreements would be signed prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5, 2014, but that deadline was not met. The Ghani-Abdullah election dispute was resolved in late September-- Ghani was inaugurated on September 29, and the next day the BSA was signed between U.S. Ambassador Cunningham and Ghani's newly appointed National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar. The nearly simultaneous signature of the Afghanistan-NATO BSA ("status of forces agreement") apparently paved the way for British Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Afghanistan on October 3--the first leader of a major force donor to visit the country to meet with the new Afghan leadership team. Afghanistan's parliament ratified the BSA in late November 2014.

Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)

The BSA followed a broader "Strategic Partnership Agreement" (SPA) signed by President Obama and President Karzai in Afghanistan on May 1, 2012. That broad agreement signaled that the United States is committed to Afghan stability and development for many years after the transition is complete. The SPA was completed after more than one year of negotiations that focused on resolution of two disagreements in particular--Afghan insistence on control over detention centers and a halt to or control over nighttime raids on insurgents by U.S. forces. The SPA agreement also demonstrated U.S.-Afghan ability to overcome public Afghan discomfort over such issues as the March 2011 burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor; the mistaken burning by U.S. soldiers of several Qurans on February 20, 2012; and the March 11, 2012, killing of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier, Sergeant Robert Bales, who was arrested and tried in the United States. On September 17, 2012, several hundred Afghans demonstrated near a U.S.-Afghan training facility east of Kabul city (Camp Phoenix) to protest a video made in the United States, "The Innocence of Muslims." About 40 Afghan police reportedly were wounded preventing the crowd from reaching the facility.

The strategic partnership agreement represents a broad outline of the post-2014 relationship, with details to be filled in subsequently. It has a duration of 10 years. The major provisions include the following: |44|

  • A commitment to continue to foster U.S.-Afghan "close cooperation" to secure Afghanistan. This strongly implies, but does not state outright, that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, and no troop numbers are mentioned in the document. The document provides for negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement, discussed above.
  • The U.S. Administration will request appropriations to provide training and arms to the Afghan security forces. The agreement does not stipulate dollar amounts or which systems are to be provided.
  • The United States will designate Afghanistan as a "Major Non-NATO Ally," a designation reserved for close U.S. allies. In keeping with that pledge, on July 7, 2012, then-Secretary Clinton stopped in Afghanistan and announced that designation. It opens Afghanistan to receive (sale, donation) U.S. weaponry of the same level of sophistication as that sold to U.S. NATO allies, and facilitates provision of training and funds to leasing defense articles.
  • There will be no "permanent" U.S. bases or the use of Afghan facilities for use against neighboring countries, but the agreement would apparently allow long-term U.S. use of Afghan facilities. Over the past several years, successive National Defense Authorization Acts have contained a provision explicitly prohibiting the U.S. establishment of permanent bases in Afghanistan.
  • The Administration will request economic aid for Afghanistan for the duration of the agreement (2014-2024). No amounts were specified in the document. The Afghan government reportedly wanted a $2 billion per year commitment written into the agreement but the United States told Afghanistan that amounts can only be determined through the appropriations process.

In October 2011, Karzai called a loya jirga to endorse the concept of the SPA as well as his insistence on Afghan control over detentions and approval authority for U.S.-led night raids. A November 16-19, 2011, traditional loya jirga (the jirga was conducted not in accordance with the constitution and its views are therefore non-binding), consisting of about 2,030 delegates, gave Karzai the approvals he sought, both for the pact itself and his suggested conditions. The final SPA was ratified by the Afghanistan National Assembly on May 26, 2012, by a vote of 180-4.

The SPA replaced an earlier, more limited strategic partnership agreement established on May 23, 2005, when Karzai and President Bush issued a "joint declaration." |45| The declaration provided for U.S. forces to have access to Afghan military facilities, in order to prosecute "the war against international terror and the struggle against violent extremism." Karzai's signing of the declaration was supported by the 1,000 Afghan representatives on May 8, 2005, at a consultative jirga in Kabul. The jirga supported an indefinite presence of international forces to maintain security but urged Karzai to delay a firm decision to request such a presence.

Building Afghan Forces and Establishing Rule of Law

Key to the post-2014 security of Afghanistan is the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), consisting primarily of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). Analysis of ANSF strengths and weaknesses is contained in the semi-annual DO reports on Afghanistan stability and the Center for Naval Analyses study released in February 2014, referenced earlier. |46|

The ANSF's strengths and accomplishments were discussed above. Among the major concerns about the ANSF is that about 35% of the force does not reenlist each year, meaning that about one-third of the force must be recruited to replenish its ranks. Many believe that the force has been expanded too quickly to allow for thorough vetting or for recruitment of the most qualified personnel. Many units also suffer from a deficiency of weaponry, spare parts, and fuel, although those shortfalls are ebbing, according to DOD.

According to the SIGAR, DOD gave the ANSF $600 million of weapons as of the end of 2013. |47| However, U.S. commanders frequently note concerns about the ANSF's deficiency of logistical capabilities, such as airlift, medical evacuation, resupply, and other associated functions. It is these deficiencies that are a particular focus of U.S. planning for the post-2014 period.

Some of the deficiency throughout the ANSF is due to illiteracy, which prompted an increasing focus on (and about $200 million in funding for) providing literacy training. The goal was to have all ANSF have at least first-grade literacy, and half to have third-grade literacy, by the end of 2014. While literacy in the ANSF has been improved by the program, the SIGAR reported in January 2014 that these targets might be unrealistic.

The Resolute Support Mission will focus primarily on continuing to train the ANSF. The RSM will supersede the prior training institutions such as the "Combined Security Transition

Command-Afghanistan" (CSTC-A) and the NATO Training Mission--Afghanistan (NTM-A). In 2012, CSTC-A's mission was reoriented to building the capacity of the Afghan Defense and Interior Ministries, and to provide resources to the ANSF.

Current and Post-2014 Size of the ANSF

On January 21, 2010, the joint U.N.-Afghan "Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board" (JCMB) agreed that, by October 2011, the ANA would expand to 171,600 and the ANP to about 134,000, (total ANSF of 305,600). Both forces reached that level by September 2011. In August 2011, a larger target size of 352,000 (195,000 ANA and 157,000 ANP) was set, to be reached by November 2012. The gross size of the force reached approximately that level by the end of September 2012, and remain at levels just below those targets. That figure does not include the approximately 30,000 local security forces discussed below. A higher ANSF target level of 378,000 was not adopted because of the concerns about the Afghan ability to sustain so large a force. About 1,700 women serve in the ANSF, of which about 1,370 are police.

In the run-up to the May 20-21, 2012, NATO summit in Chicago, which focused on long-term financial and military sustainment of the ANSF, there was initial agreement to reduce the total ANSF to 228,500 by 2017. However, based on assessments of the difficulty of securing Afghanistan, the February 21, 2013, NATO meeting reversed that decision.

ANSF Top Leadership and Ethnic Issues

In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 ousting of the Taliban regime, Northern Alliance figures took key security positions and weighted recruitment for the new ANSF toward ethnic Tajiks. Many Pashtuns, in reaction, refused recruitment, but the naming of a Pashtun, Abdul Rahim Wardak, as Defense Minister in December 2004, mitigated that difficulty. The problem was further alleviated with better pay and more close involvement by U.S. forces, and the force is ethnically integrated in each unit. According to recent DOD reports, the overall ANSF force is now roughly in line with the ethnic composition of Afghanistan, although Tajiks are still slightly overrepresented in the command ranks.

Until 2010, the chief of staff of the ANA was General Bismillah Khan, a Tajik and former Northern Alliance commander. He was replaced by a Pashtun, Lieutenant General Sher Mohammad Karimi. Khan then served as Interior Minister until his ouster by the National Assembly in August 2012; in that position, he reportedly promoted his Tajik allies to key Interior Ministry and ANP positions. In September 2012, Karzai appointed Khan as Defense Minister, a position in which he earned U.S. and partner country praise his performance as Defense Minister. On December 1, 2014, Ghani dismissed him as well as Interior Minister Umar Daudzai and National Directorate of Security (NDS, intelligence ministry) chief Rehmatullah Nabil. Replacement nominees have not been announced to date.

ANSF Funding

On the assumption that the post-2014 ANSF force would shrink to 228,000, it was determined that sustaining a force that size would cost $4.1 billion annually. The United States pledged $2.3 billion yearly; the Afghan government pledged $500 million yearly; and allied contributions constituted the remaining $1.3 billion. The Afghan contribution is to rise steadily until 2024, at which time Afghanistan is expected to fund its own security needs. However, the apparent U.S. and NATO decision to keep the ANSF force at 352,000 produced revised funding requirement levels of about $6 billion per year.

With respect to the funding requirements for a 352,000 person force, the Administration has requested $4.1 billion for the ANSF for FY2015. At the NATO summit, partner countries reaffirmed pledges of about $1.25 billion annually for the ANSF during 2015-2017. |48| Afghanistan has reaffirmed its $500 million contribution for 2015, despite its substantial budgetary shortfall -the contribution is vital to reaching the $6 billion requirement for the ANSF for 2015. According to DOD, as of FY2014, all U.S. funding for the ANSF is subj ect to the "Leahy Law" that requires withholding of U.S. funding for any unit of a foreign force that, according to credible information, has committed a gross violation of human rights.

Of the NATO partner contributions, Germany apparently is contributing about $190 million per year; Britain, about $110 million per year; and Australia, about $100 million per year. Other countries that are confirmed to have made pledges, but of unspecified amounts, include Denmark, Italy, Estonia, and the Netherlands. Japan has been a large contributor to Afghan security needs as well, as discussed below.

The U.S. costs to train and equip the ANSF are provided in the aid tables at the end of this report. As of FY2005, the security forces funding has been DOD funds, not State Department funds (Foreign Military Financing, FMF).

NATO Trust Fund for the ANA

In 2007 ISAF set up a trust fund for donor contributions to fund the transportation of equipment donated to and the training of the ANA; the mandate was expanded in 2009 to include sustainment costs. In November 2010 a further expansion was agreed on to support literacy training for the ANA. As of October 2014, 23 donor nations have given the ANA Trust Fund about $900 million, according to the DOD report on Afghanistan issued in October 2014.

Law and Order Trust Fund for the ANP

There is also a separate "Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan" (LOTFA), run by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), which is used to pay the salaries of the ANP and other police-related functions. The United States donates to that fund, for the purpose of paying ANP salaries and food costs. From 2002 to 2012, donors contributed $2.75 billion to the Fund, of which the United States contributed about $1 billion. Japan's 2009 pledge to pay the expenses of the Afghan police for at least six months (about $125 million for each six month period) is implemented through the LOTF. The EU pledged $175 million for the fund from January 2011 to March 2013. South Korea contributes about $100 million per year to the fund.

In May 2012, there were reports of misfeasance at the fund. UNDP began to investigate the allegations and immediately terminated the contracts of three personnel and placed two others on administrative leave. UNDP is continuing to investigate the issue.

Other Bilateral Donations

The DOD reports discuss other bilateral donations to the ANSF, both in funds and in arms and equipment donations. There is a "NATO Equipment Donation Program," through which donor countries supply the ANSF with equipment. Since 2002, about $2.9 billion in assistance to the ANSF has come from these sources.

There is also a NATO-Russia Council Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund. Launched in March 2011, this fund provides maintenance and repair capacity to the Afghan Air Force helicopter fleet, much of which is Russian-made.

The Afghan National Army (ANA)

The Afghan National Army has been built "from scratch" since 2002--it is not a direct continuation of the national army that existed from the 1880s until the Taliban era. That army disintegrated entirely during the 1992-1996 mujahedin civil war and the 1996-2001 Taliban period. Some officers who served prior to the Taliban have joined the ANA.

The ANA now plans and leads almost all combat operations--including many completely on its own with no U.S. or international input. The commando forces of the ANA, trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces, and numbering about 5,300, are considered well-trained.

There is a problem of absenteeism within the ANA in large part because soldiers do not serve in their provinces of residence. Many in the ANA take long trips to their home towns to remit funds to their families, and often then return to the ANA after a long absence. However, that problem has eased somewhat in recent years because almost all of the ANA is now paid electronically. The FY2005 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 108-447) required that ANA recruits be vetted for terrorism, human rights violations, and drug trafficking.

The United States and other donors have given the ANA primarily light weapons rather than heavy arms such as new tanks. The ANA operates perhaps a few hundred Russian-built T-55 and T-62 tanks left over from the Soviet occupation. The United States is also helping the ANSF build up an indigenous weapons production capability. However, in line with U.S. efforts to cut costs for the ANSF, the Defense Department reportedly plans shifted in 2013 from providing new equipment to maintaining existing equipment.

The United States has built five ANA bases: Herat (Corps 207), Gardez (Corps 203), Qandahar (Corps 205), Mazar-e-Sharif (Corps 209), and Kabul (Division HQ, Corps 201, Air Corps). Coalition officers conduct heavy weapons training for a heavy brigade as part of the "Kabul Corps," based in Pol-e-Charki, east of Kabul. U.S. funds are being used to construct a new Defense Ministry headquarters in Kabul at a cost of about $92 million.

Afghan Air Force

Equipment, maintenance, and logistical difficulties continue to plague the Afghan Air Force, and it remains mostly a support force for ground operations rather than a combat-oriented force. However, the Afghan Air Force has been able to make ANA units nearly self-sufficient in airlift. The force is a carryover from the Afghan Air Force that existed prior to the Soviet invasion, and is expanding gradually after its equipment was virtually eliminated in the 2001-2002 U.S. combat against the Taliban regime. It has about 6,300 personnel of a target size of about 8,000 by 2016. There are five female Afghan Air Force personnel.

The Afghan Air Force has about 100 aircraft including gunship, attack, and transport helicopters--of a planned fleet of 140 aircraft. Because the Afghan Air Force has familiarity with Russian helicopters and other equipment, the post-2014 Afghan Air Force is focused primarily on adding to its inventory of about 60 Mi-17 helicopters. Defense Department officials planned to buy the force another 45 Mi-17 helicopters, via the Russian state-owned Rosoboronexport arms sales agency at a cost of about $572 million and delivery by the end of 2014. However, separate House and Senate letters to the Administration, with a total of nearly 100 Member signers, called on the Defense Department to cancel the purchase because of U.S.-Russia differences over Syria. DOD announced in November 2013 that it would not buy the 15 Mi-17s slated to be bought in FY2014, but would go ahead with the buy of 30 Mi-17s that used FY2013 funds. |49| To provide tactical air support, the Afghan Air Force is buying 20 A-29 aircraft, but they will not be fully operational until 2017, according to DOD. The relative lack of ability by the Afghan Air Force to provide tactical support might have contributed to the U.S. decision, discussed above, to continue to provide air support beyond 2014.

Among other U.S.-funded purchases, the Brazilian firm Embraer has been contracted by DOD to provide 20 Super Tucano turboprop aircraft to the force. U.S. plans do not include supply of fixed-wing combat aircraft such as F-16s, which Afghanistan wants as part of a broader request for the United States to augment Afghan air capabilities, according to U.S. military officials. There is a concern that Afghanistan will not soon have the capability to sustain operations of an aircraft as sophisticated as the F-16.

Afghanistan also is seeking the return of 26 aircraft, including some MiG-2s that were flown to safety in Pakistan and Uzbekistan during the past conflicts in Afghanistan. In 2010, Russia and Germany supplied MI-8 helicopters to the Afghan Air Force.

Afghan National Police (ANP)

U.S. and Afghan officials believe that building up a credible and capable national police force is at least as important to combating the insurgency as building the ANA. The DOD reports on Afghanistan contain substantial detail on U.S.-led efforts to continue what it says are "significant strides [that] have been made in professionalizing the ANP." However, many outside assessments of the ANP are disparaging, asserting that there is rampant corruption to the point where citizens mistrust and fear the ANP. Among other criticisms are a desertion rate far higher than that of the ANA; substantial illiteracy; involvement in local factional or ethnic disputes because the ANP works in the communities its personnel come from; and widespread use of drugs. It is this view that has led to consideration of stepped up efforts to promote local security solutions such as those discussed above. About 2,000 ANP are women, and on January 16, 2014--for the first time--a woman was appointed as a district police commander.

The United States and Afghanistan have worked to correct long-standing deficiencies. Some U.S. commanders credit a November 2009 doubling of police salaries (to $240 per month for service in high combat areas), and the streamlining and improvement of the payments system for the ANP, with reducing the solicitation of bribes by the ANP. The raise also stimulated an eightfold increase in recruitment. Others note the success, thus far, of efforts to pay police directly (and avoid skimming by commanders) through cell phone-based banking relationships (E-Paisa, run by Roshan cell network).

The ANP is increasingly being provided with heavy weapons and now have about 5,000 armored vehicles countrywide. Still, most police units lack adequate ammunition and vehicles. In some cases, equipment requisitioned by their commanders is being sold and the funds pocketed by the police officers.

A component of the ANP is the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP). As of mid-2014, the ANCOP force, which numbers over 14,000, is used to clear areas during counterinsurgency operations. The ANCOP force is considered effective because it deploys nationally and is less susceptible to local power brokers than are other ANP units.

The U.S. police training effort was first led by State Department/INL, but DOD took over the lead in police training in April 2005. A number of early support programs, such as the auxiliary police program attempted during 2005, were discarded as ineffective. It was replaced during 2007-2011 with the "focused district development" program in which a district police force was taken out and retrained, its duties temporarily performed by more highly trained ANCOP. Police training includes instruction in human rights principles and democratic policing concepts, and the State Department human rights report on Afghanistan, referenced above, says the government and observers are increasingly monitoring the police force to prevent abuses.

Supplements to the National Police: Afghan Local Police (ALP) and Other Local Forces

In 2008, the failure of several police training efforts led to a decision to develop local forces to protect their communities. Until then, U.S. military commanders opposed assisting local militias anywhere in Afghanistan for fear of re-creating militias that commit abuses and administer arbitrary justice. However, the urgent security needs in Afghanistan caused then-top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus and his successors to expand local security experiments, based on successful experiences in Iraq and after designing mechanisms to place them firmly under Afghan government (mainly Ministry of Interior) control. Among these initiatives are the following:

  • Village Stability Operations/Afghan Local Police (ALP). The Village Stability Operations (VSO) concept began in February 2010 in Arghandab district of Qandahar Province when U.S. Special Operations Forces organized about 25 villagers into an armed neighborhood watch group. The pilot program was expanded into a joint Afghan-U.S. Special Operations effort in which 12-person teams from these forces lived in communities to help improve governance, security, and development. An outgrowth of the VSO was the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program in which the U.S. Special Operations Forces set up and trained local security organs of about 300 members each. These local units are under the control of district police chiefs and each fighter is vetted by a local shura as well as Afghan intelligence. The latest DOD report says there are about 30,000 ALP now operating nationwide - the target size for the program. However, the ALP program has been cited by Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups for killings, rapes, arbitrary detentions, and land grabs. The allegations triggered a U.S. military investigation that substantiated many of those findings, although not the most serious of the allegations. |50|
  • The ALP initiative was also adapted from another program, begun in 2008, termed the "Afghan Provincial Protection Program" (APPP, commonly called "AP3"), funded with DOD (CERP) funds. The APPP got underway in Wardak Province (Jalrez district) in early 2009 with 100 in May 2009. It was subsequently expanded to 1,200 personnel. U.S. commanders said no U.S. weapons were supplied to the militias, but the Afghan government provided weapons (Kalashnikov rifles) to the recruits, possibly using U.S. funds. Participants in the program were given $200 per month.
  • Afghan Public Protection Force. This force, which operates as a "state-owned enterprise" (a business) but under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, guards sites and convoys. It was formed to implement Karzai's August 17, 2010, decree (No. 62) that private security contractor forces be disbanded and their functions performed by official Afghan government forces by March 20, 2012. That deadline was extended to March 2013 because of the slow pace of standing up the new protection force, and some development organizations continued to use locally hired guard forces. The unit has begun operations to secure supply convoys and sites, and now numbers about 22,000 personnel guarding nearly 150 sites. Observers reported in late August 2013 that the APPF was nearly insolvent because of corruption and mismanagement, and in February 2014 the Afghan government decided to end its "state-owned enterprise" status and fold the unit into the Ministry of Interior.

The local security experiments to date resemble but technically are not arbokai, which are private tribal militias. Some believe that the arbokai concept should be revived as a means of securing Afghanistan, as the arbokai did during the reign of Zahir Shah and in prior pre-Communist eras. Reports persist that some tribal groupings have formed arbokai without specific authorization.

The local security programs discussed above somewhat reverse the 2002-2007 efforts to disarm local sources of armed force. And, as noted in several DOD reports on Afghan stability, there have sometimes been clashes and disputes between the local security units and the ANSF units, particularly in cases where the units are of different ethnicities. These are the types of difficulties that prompted earlier efforts to disarm local militia forces, as discussed below.

DDR. The main program, run by UNAMA, was called the "DDR" program--Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration--and it formally concluded on June 30, 2006. The program got off to a slow start because the Afghan Defense Ministry did not reduce the percentage of Tajiks in senior positions by a July 1, 2003, target date, dampening Pashtun recruitment. In September 2003, Karzai replaced 22 senior Tajiks in the Defense Ministry officials with Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Hazaras, enabling DDR to proceed. The major donor for the program was Japan, which contributed about $140 million.

The DDR program was initially expected to demobilize 100,000 fighters, although that figure was later reduced. Of those demobilized, 55,800 former fighters exercised reintegration options provided by the program: starting small businesses, farming, and other options. Some studies criticized the DDR program for failing to prevent a certain amount of rearmament of militiamen or stockpiling of weapons and for the rehiring of some militiamen. |51| Part of the DDR program was the collection and cantonment of militia weapons, but generally only poor-quality weapons were collected.

DIAG. After June 2005, the disarmament effort emphasized another program called "DIAG"-- Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups, run by the Afghan Disarmament and Reintegration Commission, headed by Vice President Khalili. The effort was intended to disarm as many as 150,000 members of 1,800 different "illegal armed groups"--militiamen that were not part of recognized local forces (Afghan Military Forces, AMF) and were never on the rolls of the Defense Ministry. Under the DIAG, no payments were made to fighters, and the program depended on persuasion rather than use of force against the illegal groups. DIAG was not as well funded as was DDR, receiving $11 million in operating funds. As an incentive, Japan and other donors offered $35 million for development projects where illegal groups have disbanded. The goals of DIAG were not met in part because armed groups in the south said they need to remain armed against the Taliban. UNAMA reported in a March 9, 2011, report that 100 out of 140 districts planned for DIAG are considered "DIAG compliant."

Rule of Law/Criminal Justice Sector

Many experts believe that an effective justice sector is vital to Afghan governance. Some of the criticisms and allegations of corruption at all levels of the Afghan bureaucracy have been discussed throughout this report. U.S. justice sector programs generally focus on promoting rule of law and building capacity of the judicial system, including police training and court construction. The rule of law issue is covered in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, and CRS Report R41484, Afghanistan: U.S. Rule of Law and Justice Sector Assistance.

Policy Component: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

U.S. and partner officials have praised the effectiveness of "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" (PRTs)--enclaves of U.S. or partner forces and civilian officials that provide safe havens for international aid workers to help with reconstruction and to extend the writ of the Kabul government. The PRTs, the concept for which was announced in December 2002, have performed activities ranging from resolving local disputes to coordinating local reconstruction projects, although most PRTs in combat-heavy areas focused on counterinsurgency. Many of the additional U.S. civilian officials deployed to Afghanistan during 2009 and 2010 were based at PRTs, which have facilities, vehicles, and security. Some aid agencies say they felt more secure when working with the PRTs program began, |52| but several relief groups did not want to associate with military forces because doing so might taint their perceived neutrality.

Virtually all the PRTs, listed in Table 15, were placed under the ISAF mission. Each U.S.-run PRT has had U.S. forces to train Afghan security forces; DOD civil affairs officers; representatives of USAID, State Department, and other agencies; and Afghan government (Interior Ministry) personnel. USAID officers assigned to the PRTs administer PRT reconstruction projects. USAID spending on PRT projects is in the table at the end of this report.

Despite the benefits, during his presidency, Karzai consistently criticized the PRTs as holding back Afghan capacity-building and repeatedly called for their abolition as "parallel governing structures." USAID observers backed some of the criticism, saying that there was little Afghan input into PRT development project decision-making or as contractors for PRT-funded construction. To address this criticism, during 2008-2012 some donor countries, including the United States, enhanced the civilian diplomatic and development component of the PRTs to try to change their image from military institutions.

In line with a decision announced at the May 20-21, 2012, NATO summit in Chicago, all of the PRTs are to be transferred to Afghan control by the end of 2014. Karzai's July 26, 2012, administrative reforms directed the Afghan government to plan to assume their functions. Related U.S.-led structures such as District Support Teams (DSTs), which help district officials provide government services, also will close by the end of 2014.

Cooperation With Allies

Partner forces have been key to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Since 2006, most U.S. troops in Afghanistan have served in the NATO-led "International Security Assistance Force" (ISAF). ISAF consists of all 28 NATO members states plus partner countries--a total of 50 countries including the United States. Since the transition to Afghan security leadership began in July 2011, U.S. officials have largely succeeded in preventing a "rush to the exits" by partner forces-- partner drawdowns have occurred at roughly the same rate and proportion as the U.S. drawdown, despite public pressure in the European countries to end or reduce military involvement in Afghanistan. Still, during 2010-2012, the Netherlands, Canada, and France, respectively, ended their combat missions, although they continued to furnish trainers for the ANSF until the end of 2014. South Korea ended its security mission in Parwan Province, in and around Bagram Airfield, in June 2014, although its hospital and development experts will remain until 2016.

Partner forces that continue to conduct some combat in Afghanistan include Britain, Canada, Poland, Denmark, Romania, and Australia. Romania has permitted the use of its facilities to withdraw personnel and equipment as part of the international drawdown. Britain has removed most of its peak 10,000 person contingent, which was based in Helmand. As noted above, several countries have indicated they will contribute troops to RSM. Remaining partner forces are listed in Table 14.

Table 4. Background on NATO/ISAF Formation and U.N. Mandate

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was created by the Bonn Agreement and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1386 (December 20, 2001, a Chapter 7 resolution), |53| initially limited to Kabul. In October 2003, after Germany agreed to contribute 450 military personnel to expand ISAF into the city of Konduz, ISAF contributors endorsed expanding its presence to several other cities, as authorized on October 14, 2003 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1510. In August 2003, NATO took over command of ISAF--previously the ISAF command rotated among donor forces including Turkey and Britain.

NATO/ISAF's responsibilities broadened significantly in 2004 with NATO/ISAF's assumption of security responsibility for northern and western Afghanistan (Stage 1, Regional Command North, in 2004 and Stage 2, Regional Command West, in 2005, respectively). The transition process continued on July 3 1, 2006, with the formal handover of the security mission in southern Afghanistan to NATO/ISAF control. As part of this "Stage 3," a British/Canadian/Dutch-led "Regional Command South" (RC-S) was formed for Helmand, Qandahar, and Uruzgan. All three rotated the command of RC-S. "Stage 4," the assumption of NATO/ISAF command of peacekeeping in 14 provinces of eastern Afghanistan (and thus all of Afghanistan), was completed on October 5, 2006. .

The ISAF mission was renewed (until October 13, 2012) by U.N. Security Council Resolution 201 1 (October 12, 2011), which reiterated previous resolutions' support for the Operation Enduring Freedom mission. Resolution 2069 of October 10, 2012, renewed the mandate for another full year (until October 11, 2014). That will likely be the last renewal until the ISAF mission ends at the end of 2014. Tables at the end of this report list contributing forces, areas of operations, and their Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

Reintegration and Potential Reconciliation With Insurgents |54|

Some believe that there is substantial potential for a political settlement between insurgent leaders and the Afghan government and the reintegration of insurgent fighters into society. The prospects might have increased after the April 5, 2014, presidential election in Afghanistan, in which voters mostly ignored or defied Taliban threats of violence and election day violence was minimal. However, reconciliation might involve compromises that could produce backsliding on human rights; most insurgents are highly conservative Islamists who seek strict limitations on women's rights. Many leaders of ethnic minorities believe that reconciliation and reintegration might further Pashtun political strength within Afghanistan, and enhance Pakistani influence. The United States and the Afghan government stipulate that any settlement require insurgent leaders, as an outcome, |55| to (1) cease fighting, (2) accept the Afghan constitution, and (3) sever any ties to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.


The concept of providing incentives to persuade insurgents to surrender and reenter their communities has received at least some U.S. and Afghan attention since 2002. The elements included in a formal reintegration plan drafted by the Afghan government and adopted by a "peace loya jirga" during June 2-4, 2010, |56| included providing surrendering fighters with jobs, amnesty, protection, and an opportunity to be part of the security architecture for their communities. Later in June 2010, President Karzai issued a decree to implement the plan, which includes efforts by Afghan local leaders to convince insurgents to reintegrate, and UNAMA said in its December 6, 2013, that local civil society-sponsored meetings called the "Afghan People's Dialogue on Peace," intended to promote peace and reconciliation, have been expanding.

According to the October 2014 DOD report, about 9,000 fighters have been reintegrated since the program began operating in 2010. A majority of those reintegrated are from the north and west, with growing participation from militants in the more violent south and east. Some observers say there have been cases in which reintegrated fighters have committed human rights abuses against women and others, suggesting that the reintegration process might have unintended consequences.

The reintegration effort received formal international backing at the July 20, 2010, Kabul Conference. Britain, Japan, and several other countries, including the United States, have announced a total of about $235 million in donations to a fund to support the reintegration process, of which $134 million has been received. |57| The U.S. contribution to the program has been about $100 million (CERP funds). |58| However, the October 2014 DOD report indicates that there has been funding shortfall for the program for 2014 and the program slowed.

Previous efforts had marginal success. A "Program for Strengthening Peace and Reconciliation" (referred to in Afghanistan by its Pashto acronym "PTS") operated during 2003-2008, headed by then-Meshrano Jirga speaker Sibghatullah Mojadeddi and then-Vice President Karim Khalili, and overseen by Karzai's National Security Council. The program persuaded 9,000 Taliban figures and commanders to renounce violence and join the political process, but made little impact on the tenacity or strength of the insurgency.

Reconciliation With Militant Leaders

A related U.S. and Afghan initiative is to reach a conflict-ending settlement with the Taliban. The Obama Administration initially withheld endorsement of the concept on the grounds that it might lead to the incorporation into the Afghan political system of insurgent leaders who retain ties to Al Qaeda and would roll back freedoms. The minority communities in the north, women, intellectuals, and others remain skeptical that their freedoms can be preserved if there is a political settlement with the Taliban--a settlement that might involve Taliban figures obtaining ministerial posts, seats in parliament, or even control over territory. Then-Secretary of State Clinton said in India on July 20, 2011, that any settlement must not result in an undoing of "the progress that has been made [by women and ethnic minorities] in the past decade." To respond to those fears, Afghan and U.S. officials say that the outcome--but not the precondition--of a settlement would require the Taliban to drop demands that a new, "Islamic" constitution be adopted and Islamic law be imposed. On the other hand, Afghan officials have not ruled out amending the constitution to incorporate more Islamic tenets as part of a settlement.

An "Afghan High Peace Council" (HPC) intended to oversee the settlement process was established on September 5, 2010. Former President/Northern Alliance political leader Burhanuddin Rabbani was appointed by Karzai to head it, largely to gain Tajik and other Northern Alliance support for the concept. On September 20, 2011, Rabbani was assassinated by a Taliban infiltrator posing as an intermediary; on April 14, 2012, the HPC voted his son, Salahuddin, as his replacement.

President Ghani, in his September 29 inauguration speech, called on the Taliban to enter into talks with the Afghan government. Ghani is a Pashtun from the east of the country--the geographic region where most Taliban leaders hail from. Many experts assert that the Taliban might be more amenable to talking with his government than it was with that of Karzai, who is a southern Pashtun. Ghani's trips to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia since taking office reportedly have focused on building support among these regional powers for renewed talks; both countries are perceived as holding some leverage over the Taliban movement. However, the "CEO" Dr. Abdullah has tended to take hardline positions on reconciliation and his prominent position in government could cause Taliban hesitancy to enter into new talks. In late November, 2014, possibly perceiving that Ghani might offer undue compromises to the Taliban in any renewed talks, Rabbani resigned.

Any new talks will have at least some base to build upon. During 2011, informal meetings among U.S., Taliban, and Afghan representatives proliferated, particularly in the form of U.S. meetings with Tayeb Agha, an aide to Mullah Umar. In December 2011, U.S. officials pursued confidence-building measures under which the Taliban would open a political office in Qatar and publicly severe its ties to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. In exchange, the United States would transfer five senior Taliban captives from the Guantanamo detention facility to a form of house arrest in Qatar; and the Taliban would release the one U.S. prisoner of war it held, Bowe Bergdahl. The U.S.-Taliban talks broke off in March 2012 reportedly over Qatar's failure to assure the United States that released detainees would be able to escape custody.

The plan was resurrected in 2013. On June 18, 2013, the Taliban opened the office in Qatar, simultaneously issuing a statement refusing future ties to international terrorist groups and expressing willingness to eventually transition to Afghan government-Taliban talks. However, the Taliban violated understandings with the United States and Qatar by raising a flag of the former Taliban regime and calling the facility the office of the "Islamic Emirate" of Afghanistan--the name the Taliban regime gave for Afghanistan during its rule. These actions prompted U.S. officials, through Qatar, to compel the Taliban to close the office. However, the Taliban officials remained in Qatar, and indirect U.S.-Taliban talks through Qatari mediation revived in mid-2014. These indirect talks led to the May 31, 2014, exchange of Bergdahl for the release to Qatar of the five Taliban figures, with the stipulation that they cannot travel outside Qatar for at least one year. The five released, and their positions during the Taliban's period of rule, were Mullah Mohammad Fazl, the chief of staff of the Taliban's military; Noorullah Noori, the Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan; Khairullah Khairkhwa, the Taliban regime Interior Minister; Mohammad Nabi Omari, a Taliban official; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, the Taliban regime's deputy intelligence chief.

In addition to U.S.-Taliban discussions, there have been exchanges between Taliban representatives and the Afghan government. In June 2012, Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives held talks at two meetings--one in Paris, and one an academic conference in Kyoto, Japan. Meetings that were potentially even more significant took place between senior Taliban figures and members of the Northern Alliance faction in France (December 20-21, 2012).

The meeting in France reportedly included submission by the Taliban of a political platform that signaled acceptance of some aspects of human rights and women's rights provisions of the current constitution. |59| A statement by Mullah Omar in August 2013 said the Taliban no longer seeks a monopoly of power but rather an "inclusive" government, and backs modern education. And, perhaps reflecting divisions among insurgents, the insurgent faction of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar permitted its followers in Afghanistan to vote in the April 2014 presidential and provincial elections. In February 2014, it was reported that Karzai had been engaged in further talks with Taliban representatives, although some accounts said the talks made no progress. |60| Others say that some Karzai actions, such as condemning the February 2014 killing in Pakistan of prominent Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Raqib and refusing to sign the BSA, were intended to win Taliban favor.

Previous talks between Afghan government figures and the Taliban have taken place primarily in Saudi Arabia and UAE. Press reports said that talks took place among Karzai's brother, Qayyum; Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official who reconciled and entered the Afghan parliament but was assassinated in May 2012; and the former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who purportedly is in touch with Umar's inner circle. Some of these same Taliban representatives may be involved in the ongoing talks referred to above. Some Taliban sympathizers reportedly attended the June 2-4, 2010, consultative peace jirga.

Those who take an optimistic view of the potential for a settlement maintain that Pakistan has become at least more outwardly supportive of the reconciliation process. Following a November 2012 visit to Pakistan by Rabbani and other High Peace Council members, Pakistan released at least 26 high-ranking Taliban figures who favor reconciliation. Karzai visited Pakistan during August 26-27, 2013, and, 10 days later, Pakistan released another seven moderate senior Taliban figures. On September 22, 2013, it released from prison the highest-profile Taliban figure in detention, Mullah Abdul Ghani Bradar, |61| who had been arrested by Pakistan in February 2010, purportedly to halt talks between Bradar and Afghan intermediaries.

Removing Taliban Figures From U.N. Sanctions Lists. A key Taliban demand in negotiations is the removal of the names of some Taliban figures from U.N. lists of terrorists. These lists were established pursuant to Resolution 1267 and Resolution 1333 (October 15, 1999, and December 19, 2000, both pre-September 11 sanctions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda) and Resolution 1390 (January 16, 2002). The Afghan government has submitted a list of 50 Taliban figures it wants taken off the list, which includes about 140 Taliban-related persons or entities. On January 26, 2010, Russia, previously a hold-out against such a process, dropped opposition to removing five Taliban-era figures from these sanctions lists, paving the way for their de-listing: those removed included Taliban-era foreign minister Wakil Mutawwakil and representative to the United States Abdul Hakim Mujahid. Mujahid is now deputy chair of the High Peace Council.

On June 17, 2011, in concert with U.S. confirmations of talks with Taliban figures, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1988 and 1989. The resolutions drew a separation between the Taliban and Al Qaeda with regard to the sanctions. However, a decision on whether to remove the 50 Taliban figures from the list, as suggested by Afghanistan, was deferred. On July 21, 2011, 14 Taliban figures were removed from the "1267" sanctions list; among them were four members of the High Peace Council (including Arsala Rahmani, mentioned above).

Table 5. Major Security-Related Indicators

Force Current Level

Total Foreign Forces in Afghanistan About 30,000: 20,000 U.S. and 10,000 partner forces. (U.S. total was 25,000 in 2005; 16,000 in 2003; 5,000 in 2002. ISAF totals were 12,000 in 2005 and 6,000 in 2003.)

U.S. Casualties in Afghanistan About 2,213 killed, of which about 1,830 were by hostile action (plus 2 DOD civilians killed by hostile action). Additional 1 1 U.S. military deaths by hostile action in other OEF theaters. 150 U.S. killed from October 2001 -January 2003. 500+ killed in 2010. U.S. casualties have dropped dramatically since mid-2013 when Afghan forces assumed lead security role throughout Afghanistan.

NATO/ISAF Sectors RC-South: U.K. lead. RC-Southwest: U.S. lead; RC-East: U.S. lead; RC-North: Germany lead; RC- West: Italy lead; RC-Kabul: Turkey and Afghan lead.

Afghan National Army (ANA) About 185,000, close to the 195,000 target size that was planned by November 2012. 5,300 are commando forces, trained by U.S. Special Forces.

Afghan National Police (ANP) About 152,000, close to the target size of 157,000. 21,000 are Border Police; 3,800+ counternarcotics police; 14,400 Civil Order Police (ANCOP).

ANSF Salaries About $1.6 billion per year, paid by donor countries bilaterally or via trust funds

Al Qaeda in Afghanistan Between 50-100 members in Afghanistan, according to U.S. commanders. Also, small numbers of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other Al Qaeda affiliates.

Number of Taliban fighters Up to 25,000, including about 3,000 Haqqani network and 1,000 HIG.

Afghan casualties See CRS Report R4I084, Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians, by Susan G. Chesser.

Sources: CRS; testimony and public statements by DOD officials.

Regional Dimension

The Obama Administration is attempting to persuade all of Afghanistan's neighbors to support a stable and economically viable Afghanistan, and to welcome Afghanistan into regional security and economic organizations and patterns. Economically, the Administration is emphasizing development of a Central Asia-South Asia trading hub--part of a "New Silk Road" (NSR)--in an effort to keep Afghanistan stable and economically vibrant as donors wind down their involvement. The FY2014 omnibus appropriation, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76), provided up to $150 million to promote Afghanistan's links within its region.

The Administration first obtained formal pledges from Afghanistan's neighbors to noninterference in Afghanistan at an international meeting on Afghanistan in Istanbul on November 2, 2011 ("Istanbul Declaration"), and again at the December 5, 2011, Bonn Conference on Afghanistan (the 10th anniversary of the Bonn Conference that formed the post-Taliban government). As a follow-up to the Istanbul Declaration, confidence-building measures to be taken by Afghanistan's neighbors were discussed at a Kabul ministerial conference on June 14, 2012. At that meeting, also known as the "Heart of Asia" ministerial conference, Afghanistan hosted 14 other countries from the region, as well as 14 supporting countries and 11 regional and international organizations. The assembled nations and organizations agreed to jointly fight terrorism and drug trafficking, and pursue economic development. |62| Heart of Asia meetings have continued periodically since, including one that coincided with a visit by President Ghani to China in late October 2014. However, a detailed analysis of the process indicates that regional interest in the process has waned substantial due to factors in the various participating countries. |63|

Post-Taliban Afghanistan has been slowly integrated into regional security and economic organizations. In November 2005, Afghanistan joined the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and, in June 2012, Afghanistan was granted full observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security coordination body that includes Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. U.S. officials have also sought to enlist both regional and greater international support for Afghanistan through the still-expanding 50-nation "International Contact Group." Another effort, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECCA) on Afghanistan, was launched in 2005. Turkey and UNAMA co-chair a "Regional Working Group" initiative, which organized the November 2, 2011, Istanbul meeting mentioned above. UNAMA also leads a "Kabul Silk Road" initiative to promote regional cooperation on Afghanistan.

In addition, several regional meetings series have been established between the leaders of Afghanistan and neighboring countries. These series include summit meetings between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey; and between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, this latter forum ended in mid-2012 after Afghanistan signed the SPA with the United States, which Iran strongly opposed. Britain hosted an Afghanistan-Pakistan meeting in February 2013. Russia has assembled several "quadrilateral summits" among it, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, to focus on counternarcotics and anti-smuggling.

Table 6. Afghan and Regional Facilities Used for Operations in and Supply Lines to Afghanistan

Facility Use

Bagram Air Base 50 miles north of Kabul, the operational hub of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and base for CJTF-82. At least 2,000 U.S. military personnel are based there. Handles many of the I50+ U.S. aircraft (including helicopters) in country. Hospital constructed, one of the first permanent structures there. FY2005 supplemental (P.L. 109-13) provided about $52 million for various projects to upgrade facilities at Bagram, including a control tower and an operations center, and the FY2006 supplemental appropriation (P.L. I09-234) provided $20 million for military construction there. NATO also using the base and sharing operational costs. Bagram can be accessed directly by U.S. military flights following April 20I0 agreement by Kazakhstan to allow overflights of U.S. lethal equipment.
Qandahar Air Field Just outside Qandahar, the hub of military operations in the south. Turned over from U.S. to NATO/ISAF control in late 2006 in conjunction with NATO assumption of peacekeeping responsibilities. Enhanced (along with other facilities in the south) at cost of $1.3 billion to accommodate 2009-2010 influx of U.S. combat forces in the south.
Shindand Air Base In Farah province, about 20 miles from Iran border. Used by U.S. forces and combat aircraft since October 2004, after the dismissal of Herat governor Ismail Khan, who controlled it.
Peter Ganci Base: Manas, Kyrgyzstan Was used by 1,200 U.S. military personnel as well as refueling and cargo aircraft for shipments to and from Afghanistan. Kyrgyz governments on several occasions demanded the United States vacate the base but subsequently agreed to allow continued use in exchange for large increase in U.S. payments for its use (to $60 million per year currently. The Kyrzyz parliament voted in June 2013 not to extend the U.S. lease beyond 2014. U.S. forces ceased using and formally handed over the facility to Kyrgyz officials on June 4, 2014.
Incirlik Air Base, Turkey About 2,100 U.S. military personnel there; U.S. aircraft supply U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. use repeatedly extended for one year intervals by Turkey.
Al Dhafra, UAE Air base used by about 1,800 U.S. military personnel, to supply U.S. forces and related transport into Iraq and Afghanistan.
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Largest air facility used by U.S. in region. Houses central air operations coordination center for U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan; also houses CENTCOM forward headquarters. About 5,000 U.S. personnel in Qatar.
Naval Support Facility, Bahrain U.S. naval command headquarters for regional anti-smuggling, anti-terrorism, and anti-proliferation naval search missions. About 5,000 U.S. military personnel there.
Karsi-Khanabad Air Base, Uzbekistan Not used by U.S. since September 2005 following U.S.-Uzbek dispute over May 2005 Uzbek crackdown on unrest in Andijon. Once housed about 1,750 U.S. military personnel (900 Air Force, 400 Army, and 450 civilian) supplying Afghanistan. U.S. relations with Uzbekistan have improved since 2009, but there is still no U.S. use of the air base. Some U.S. shipments began in February 2009 through Navoi airfield in central Uzbekistan, and U.S. signed agreement with Uzbekistan on April 4, 2009, allowing nonlethal supplies for the Afghanistan war. Goods are shipped to Latvia and Georgia, some transits Russia by rail, then to Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan Some use of air bases and other facilities by coalition partners, including France, and emergency use by U.S. India also uses bases under separate agreement. New supply lines to Afghanistan established in February 2009 ("northern route") make some use of Tajikistan.
Pakistan U.S. supplies flowed into Afghanistan mostly through Pakistan, but over the past three years increased use was made of the Northern Distribution Network. Heavy equipment docks in Karachi and is escorted by security contractors to the Khyber Pass crossing.
Russia Allows non-lethal equipment bound for Afghanistan to transit Russia by rail. Still does not allow lethal aid to transit. Route not evidently affected by U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.


The Afghanistan neighbor that is considered most crucial to Afghanistan's future is Pakistan. DOD reports on Afghanistan's stability repeatedly have identified Afghan militant safe haven in Pakistan as a threat to Afghan stability; the latest DOD report went further to state forthrightly that Pakistan uses proxy forces in Afghanistan as a hedge against Indian influence there. Some assert that Pakistan's ultimate goal is that Afghanistan provide Pakistan strategic depth against India. At the same time, many in Pakistan's leadership circles apparently believe that instability in Afghanistan would rebound to Pakistan's detriment and seek to curb safehaven for Afghan militant groups and promote a political settlement within Afghanistan.

Pakistan apparently strongly preferred Ghani to Dr. Abdullah as successor to Karzai, but Abdullah's substantial role in the Ghani government might have diluted the benefits to Pakistan of Ghani's becoming president. Ghani visited Pakistan in November 2014 - after he previously hosted Pakistani military officials in Kabul - and reportedly requested stronger cooperation in training and border management.

As an indication of Pakistan's overriding interest in limiting India's influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan says India is using its Embassy and four consulates in Afghanistan (Pakistan says India has nine consulates) to recruit anti-Pakistan insurgents, and that India is using its aid programs only to build influence there. Pakistani Defense Secretary Lieutenant General Asif Yasin announced in late January 2014 that Pakistan would not accept a robust role for India in Afghanistan after the international security mission ends in 2014. At a February 2013 meeting in Britain, Pakistan demanded that Afghanistan scale back relations with India and sign a strategic agreement with Pakistan that includes Pakistani training for the ANSF.

Relations fluctuated significantly in the past as well. Many Afghans viewed positively Pakistan's role as the hub for U.S. backing of the mujahedin that forced the Soviet withdrawal in 1988-1989. Later, many Afghans came to resent Pakistan as one of only three countries to formally recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the others). Anti-Pakistan sentiment is particularly strong among the Tajiks and other non-Pashtuns. Relations improved after military leader President Pervez Musharraf left office in 2008 and was replaced by the civilian President Asif Zardari. However, the September 2011 insurgent attacks on the U.S. Embassy and killing of former President Rabbani caused Karzai to move strategically closer to India. In May 2013, Afghan and Pakistani border forces clashed, killing some from each side. Since Nawaz Sharif came back into office as Prime Minister in June 2013, Pakistan-Afghan relations have improved again. Karzai visited Pakistan during August 26-7, 2013--a visit that produced Pakistan's subsequent release of Mullah Bradar and other moderate Taliban figures.

International Border Question. The border clashes referenced above could have been a product of the differences between and Afghanistan and Pakistan over their border. Pakistan wants the government of Afghanistan to formally recognize as the border the "Durand Line," a border agreement reached between Britain (signed by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand) and then-Afghan leader Amir Abdul Rahman Khan in 1893, separating Afghanistan from what was then British-controlled India (later Pakistan after the 1947 partition). The border is recognized by the United Nations, but Afghanistan continues to indicate that the border was drawn unfairly to separate Pashtun tribes and should be renegotiated. Afghan leaders bridled at October 21, 2012, comments by then-SRAP Grossman that U.S. "policy is that border is the international border," even though that comment reflected a long-standing U.S. position. As of October 2002, about 1.75 million Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan since the Taliban fell, but as many as 3 million might still remain in Pakistan.

Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). U.S. efforts to persuade Pakistan to forge a "transit trade" agreement with Afghanistan bore success with the signature of a trade agreement between the two on July 18, 2010. The agreement allows for easier exportation via Pakistan of Afghan products, which are mostly agricultural products that depend on rapid transit and are key to Afghanistan's economy. On June 12, 2011, in the context of a Karzai visit to Islamabad, both countries began full implementation of the agreement. It is expected to greatly expand the $2 billion in trade per year the two countries were doing prior to the agreement. The agreement represented a success for the Canada-sponsored "Dubai Process" of talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan on modernizing border crossings, new roads, and a comprehensive border management strategy to meet IMF benchmarks. A drawback to the agreement is that Afghan trucks, under the agreement, are not permitted to take back cargo from India after dropping off goods there. The Afghanistan-Pakistan trade agreement followed agreements to send more Afghan graduate students to study in Pakistan, and a June 2010 Afghan agreement to send small numbers of ANA officers to undergo training in Pakistan. |64|

U.S.-Pakistani Cooperation on Afghanistan

The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has depended on cooperation from Pakistan, but that cooperation has sometimes suffered from differing perceptions and interests. The May 1, 2011, U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan added to preexisting strains caused by Pakistan's refusal to crack down on the Haqqani network. Relations worsened further after a November 26, 2011, incident in which a U.S. airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and Pakistan responded by closing border crossings, suspending participation in the border coordination centers, and boycotting the, December 2011 Bonn Conference. President Obama declined to hold a formal meeting with President Zardari during the May 20-21, 2012, NATO summit in Chicago, but then-Secretary of State Clinton's July 2, 2012, expression of remorse for the 24 Pakistani soldier deaths led Pakistan to reopen the border crossings.

In the several years after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Pakistani cooperation against Al Qaeda was considered by U.S. officials to be relatively consistent and effective. Pakistan arrested over 700 Al Qaeda figures after the September 11 attacks. |65| Pakistan allowed U.S. access to Pakistani airspace, some ports, and some airfields for OEF. Others say Musharraf acted against Al Qaeda only when it threatened him directly; for example, after the December 2003 assassination attempts against him.

In April 2008, in an extension of the work of the Tripartite Commission (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and ISAF, in which military leaders of these entities meet on both sides of the border), the three countries agreed to set up five "border coordination centers" (BCCs). The BCCs include networks of radar nodes to give liaison officers a common view of the border area and build on an agreement in May 2007 to share intelligence on extremists' movements. Four have been established to date, including one near the Torkham Gate at the Khyber Pass, but all four are on the Afghan side of the border. Pakistan has not fulfilled its May 2009 pledge to establish one on the Pakistani side of the border.


Iran has long sought to deny the United States the use of Afghanistan as a base from which to pressure or attack Iran, to the point where Iran strenuously sought to scuttle the May 1, 2012, U.S.-Afghanistan SPA and the U.S.-Afghanistan BSA. As a longer-term objective, Iran seeks to exert its historic influence over western Afghanistan, which was once part of the Persian empire, and to protect Afghanistan's Shiite and other Persian-speaking minorities. Still, most experts appear to see Iran as a relatively marginal player in Afghanistan, particularly compared to Pakistan, while others assert that Tehran is able to mobilize large numbers of Afghans, particularly in the west, to support its policies. The United States is attempting to gauge Tehran's influence through the "Iran watch" diplomatic position at the U.S. consulate in Herat established in early 2013.

The Obama Administration initially saw Iran as potentially helpful to its strategy for Afghanistan. Iran was invited to the U.N.-led meeting on Afghanistan at the Hague on March 31, 2009, at which Iran pledged cooperation on combating Afghan narcotics and in helping economic development in Afghanistan--both policies Iran is pursuing to a large degree. The United States supported Iran's attendance of the October 18, 2010, meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan, held in Rome. The United States and Iran also took similar positions at a U.N. meeting in Geneva in February 2010 that discussed drug trafficking across the Afghan border. Iran did not attend the January 28, 2010, international meeting in London, but it did attend the July 28, 2010, international meeting in Kabul (both discussed above). As a member of the OIC, an Iranian representative attended the March 3, 2011, Contact Group meeting at OIC headquarters in Jeddah. Iran attended the region-led international meeting in Istanbul on November 2, 2011, the December 5, 2011, Bonn Conference, and the Tokyo donors' conference on July 8, 2012.

Bilateral Government-to-Government Relations

Iran has had some success in building ties to the Afghan government, despite that government's heavy reliance on U.S. support and despite Iran's aid to Taliban and other militants, a discussed below. Karzai has, at times, called Iran a "friend" of Afghanistan; and there were regular bilateral and multilateral meetings between Karzai and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Karzai has repeatedly said that Afghanistan must not become an arena for the broader competition and disputes between the United States and Iran. |66| In June 2011, Iran's then-Defense Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, visited Kabul to sign a bilateral border security agreement, and the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding on broader security and economic cooperation in August 2013-- Iran's possible attempt to derail a U.S.-Afghanistan BSA. Karzai visited Tehran later in early December 2013 to open his relationship with the new government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and the visit resulted in an Iran-Afghanistan strategic cooperation agreement. Most U.S. analysts have downplayed the pact as largely an effort by Karzai to assuage Iranian concerns about the likely long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Earlier, in October 2010, Karzai acknowledged accepting about $2 million per year in cash payments from Iran, but Iran reportedly ceased the payments after the Karzai government signed the SPA with the United States in May 2012.

At the public level, many Afghans say they appreciate Iran's aid for efforts to try to oust the Taliban regime when it was in power. Iran saw the Taliban regime, which ruled during 19962001, as a threat to its interests in Afghanistan, especially after Taliban forces captured Herat in September 1995. Iran subsequently drew even closer to the ethnic minority-dominated Northern Alliance than previously, providing its groups with fuel, funds, and ammunition. |67| In September 1998, Iranian and Taliban forces nearly came into direct conflict when Iran discovered that nine of its diplomats were killed in the course of the Taliban's offensive in northern Afghanistan. Iran massed forces at the border and threatened military action, but the crisis cooled without a major clash, possibly out of fear that Pakistan would intervene on behalf of the Taliban. Iran offered search and rescue assistance in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led war to topple the Taliban, and it also allowed U.S. humanitarian aid to the Afghan people to transit Iran. Iran helped construct Afghanistan's first post-Taliban government, in cooperation with the United States--at the December 2001 "Bonn Conference." In February 2002, Iran expelled Karzai opponent Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, but it did not arrest him.

At other times, Afghanistan and Iran have had disputes over Iran's efforts to expel Afghan refugees. There are 1 million registered Afghan refugees in Iran, and about 1.4 million Afghan migrants (non-refugees) living there. A crisis erupted in May 2007 when Iran expelled about 50,000 into Afghanistan. About 300,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Iran since the Taliban fell. Press reports in May 2014 said Iran might be recruiting Shiite Afghan refugees in Iran to go to Syria to fight on behalf of the Asad regime there.

Iranian Assistance to Afghan Militants and to Pro-Iranian Groups and Regions

Despite its relations with the Afghan government, Iran, perhaps attempting to demonstrate that it can cause U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan, is allegedly arming militants there. |68| The State Department report on international terrorism for 2012, released May 30, 2013, repeats language in prior reports that the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran provides training to the Taliban on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect weapons fire, and that it has shipped arms to militants in Qandahar. This phrasing implies that Iran is arming Pashtun Taliban militants in the core of the combat zone in Afghanistan. Weapons provided, according to the State Department report, include mortars, 107mm rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, and plastic explosives. In March 2011, NATO said it had seized 48 Iranian-made rockets in Nimruz Province, bound for Afghan militants; the 122mm rockets have a range (13 miles) greater than those previously provided by Iran. On August 3, 2010, the Treasury Department, acting under Executive Order 13224, named two Qods Force officers as terrorism supporting entities, freezing any U.S.-based assets. |69|

Iran reportedly has allowed a Taliban office to open in Iran, and high-level Taliban figures have visited Iran. |70| While some see the contacts as Iranian support of the insurgency, others see it as an effort to exert some influence over reconciliation efforts. Iran previously allowed Taliban figures to attend conferences in Iran that were attended by Afghan figures, including the late High Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Assistance to Ethnic and Religious Factions in Afghanistan

Others are puzzled by Iran's support of Taliban fighters who are Pashtun, because Iran has traditionally supported Persian-speaking or Shiite factions in Afghanistan, many of whom have been oppressed by the Pashtuns. Some of Iran's funding has been intended to support pro-Iranian groups in the west as well as Hazara Shiites in Kabul and in the Hazara heartland of Bamiyan, Ghazni, and Dai Kundi, in part by providing scholarships and funding for technical institutes. Iran has used some of its funds to construct mosques in Herat, pro-Iranian theological seminaries in Shiite districts of Kabul, and Shiite institutions in Hazara-dominated areas. Iran also offers scholarships to Afghans to study in Iranian universities, and there are consistent allegations that Iran has funded Afghan provincial council and parliamentary candidates who are perceived as pro-Tehran. |71| These efforts have helped Iran retain close ties with Afghanistan's leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Mohseni, as well as Hazara political leader Mohammad Mohaqiq.

Iran's Development Aid for Afghanistan

Iran's economic aid to Afghanistan does not conflict with U.S. efforts to develop Afghanistan. Iran has pledged about $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan, of which about $500 million has been provided to date. The funds have been used mostly to build roads and bridges in western Afghanistan. In cooperation with India, Iran has been building roads that would connect western Afghanistan to Iran's port of Chahbahar, and provide Afghan and other goods an easier outlet to the Persian Gulf. In late July 2013, Iran and Afghanistan signed a formal agreement allowing Afghanistan to use the port. Iran also has provided credits to the Afghan private sector and helped develop power transmission lines in the provinces bordering Iran, two of which were turned over to Afghan ownership in January 2013. Some of the funds reportedly are funneled through the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, which provides charity worldwide. Iran also provides gasoline and other fuels to Afghanistan, although a SIGAR report in January 2013 said that some U.S. funds might have been used to purchase fuels from Iran for Afghanistan. U.S. sanctions bar virtually all U.S. energy transactions with Iran. (See CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions.)


India's goals are to deny Pakistan "strategic depth" in Afghanistan, to deny Pakistan the ability to block India from trade and other connections to Central Asia and beyond, and to prevent militants in Afghanistan from attacking Indian targets in Afghanistan. India saw the Afghan Taliban's hosting of Al Qaeda during 1996-2001 as a major threat because of Al Qaeda's association with radical Islamic organizations in Pakistan seeking to end India's control of part of the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir. Some of these groups have committed major acts of terrorism in India, including the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and in July 2011.

Afghanistan has sought close ties to India--in large part to access India's large and rapidly growing economy--but without alarming Pakistan. In May 2011, India and Afghanistan announced a "Strategic Partnership" agreement that demonstrated India's support for U.S. efforts to better integrate Afghanistan into regional political, economic, and security structures. On October 5, 2011, Karzai signed the pact in New Delhi; it affirmed Pakistani fears by giving India, for the first time, a formal role as a guarantor of Afghan stability. Indian experts noted that no Indian troops or security forces would deploy to Afghanistan as a consequence, but it did produce a 2011 agreement for India to train some ANSF personnel in India. Since a Karzai visit to India in November 2012, India has been training 600 ANSF yearly at India's Army's jungle warfare school.

In the immediate aftermath of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border clashes in early May 2013, Karzai visited India to seek sales of Indian artillery, aircraft, and other systems that would help it better defend its border with Pakistan. |72| Karzai visited again in mid-December 2013, and reportedly urged India to deliver on the 2011 strategic pact by selling Afghanistan tanks, artillery, and helicopters. |73| India reportedly resisted the request in order not to become ever more directly involved in the conflict in Afghanistan or alarm Pakistan. Afghan diplomats have continued to raise that request with their Indian counterparts.

India's relationship with the Afghan government reflects India's concerns about potential preponderant Pakistani influence in post-2014 Afghanistan. India, which supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in the mid-1990s, has stepped up its contacts with those factions to discuss possible contingencies in the event of an Afghan settlement deal. Many Northern Alliance figures have lived in India at one time or another, although Indian diplomats stress they have long also had close connections to Afghanistan's Pashtuns. As noted above, Karzai studied there. In addition, Tajikistan, which also supported the mostly Tajik Northern Alliance against the Taliban when it was in power, allows India to use one of its air bases. Still, India reportedly does not want to be saddled with the burden of helping secure Afghanistan as U.S.-led forces depart. India has stressed its economic aid activities there, showcased by its hosting of a June 28, 2012, meeting in Delhi to discuss investment and economic development in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, elected in May 2014, has not changed India's policy on Afghanistan.

India's Development Activities in Afghanistan

Prior to 2011, India limited its involvement in Afghanistan to development issues. India is the fifth-largest single country donor to Afghan reconstruction, funding projects worth over $1.5 billion, with an additional $500 million announced during the Singh visit to Kabul in May 2011. Indian officials assert that all their projects are focused on civilian, not military, development and are in line with the development priorities set by the Afghan government. India, along with the Asian Development Bank, financed a $300 million project, mentioned above, to bring electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan. It has also renovated the well-known Habibia High School in Kabul and committed to a $67 million renovation of Darulaman Palace as the permanent house for Afghanistan's parliament. India and Afghanistan finalized the construction plans for that building in early 2012. At a cost of about $85 million, India financed the construction of a road to the Iranian border in remote Nimruz province, linking landlocked Afghanistan to Iran's Chahbahar port on the Arabian Sea. India is currently constructing the 42 megawatt hydroelectric Selwa Dam in Herat Province at a cost of about $77 million, expected to be completed in late 2012. This will increase electricity availability in the province. In December 2011, an Indian firm, the Steel Authority of India, Ltd. (SAIL) was declared winning bidder on three of four blocs of the Hajji Gak iron ore project in Bamiyan Province.

India is also helping Afghanistan's Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) with its efforts to build local governance organizations, and it provides 1,000 scholarships per year for Afghans to undergo higher education in India. Some Afghans want to enlist even more Indian assistance in training Afghan bureaucrats in accounting, forensic accounting, oversight, and other disciplines that will promote transparency in Afghan governance.

Russia, Central Asian States, and China

Some neighboring and nearby states take an active interest not only in Afghan stability, but in the U.S. military posture that supports U.S. operations in Afghanistan. The region to the north of Afghanistan is a growing factor in U.S. efforts to rely less on routes through Pakistan to bring out the substantial amount of equipment that will be withdrawn as most U.S. forces depart.

Russia/Northern Distribution Network

Russia wants to reemerge as a great power and to contain U.S. power in Central Asia. There also concerns among experts that U.S.-Russia tensions over recent developments in Ukraine could cause Russia to cease facilitating the "Northern Distribution Network" supply route for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Russia has cooperated in developing that supply line because Russia supports U.S. and NATO efforts against militants who have posed a threat to Russia itself.

As a reflection in part of tensions between the United States and President Karzai, Afghanistan publicly supported the March 2014 referendum in Crimea to affiliate with Russia. That Afghan position could also reflect long-standing Afghan grievances over the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that has separated the Pashtun community.

Russia has not been a major actor in Afghanistan itself, perhaps because of the legacy of the Soviet occupation. Since 2002, Russia has only been providing small amounts of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. A Russian staffer for UNAMA, who had vast experience in Afghanistan dating from the Soviet occupation era, was killed in the Taliban attack on the Lebanese Taverna restaurant in Kabul on January 17, 2014. However, in line with Russian official comments in June 2010 that more economic and social assistance is needed there, Russia is investing $1 billion in Afghanistan to develop its electricity capacity and build out other infrastructure. Included in those investments are implementation of an agreement, reached during a Karzai visit to Moscow on January 22, 2011, for Russia to resume long dormant Soviet occupation-era projects such as expanding the Salang Tunnel connecting the Panjshir Valley to Kabul, hydroelectric facilities in Kabul and Baghlan provinces, a customs terminal, and a university in Kabul. Russia is also raising its profile with a $25 million investment in the Kabul Housebuilding Factory, the country's largest factory, and a $20 million project to renovate the former "Soviet House of Science and Culture" as the "Russian Cultural Center" that will expand Russia's cultural influence in Afghanistan.

During the 1990s, after its 1989 withdrawal and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban with some military equipment and technical assistance in order to blunt Islamic militancy emanating from Afghanistan. |74| Although Russia supported the U.S. effort against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan out of fear of Islamic (mainly Chechen) radicals, Russia continues to seek to reduce the U.S. military presence in Central Asia. Russian fears of Islamic activism emanating from Afghanistan may have ebbed since 2002 when Russia killed a Chechen of Arab origin known as "Hattab" (full name is Ibn al-Khattab), who led a militant pro-Al Qaeda Chechen faction. The Taliban government was the only one in the world to recognize Chechnya's independence, and some Chechen fighters fighting alongside Taliban/Al Qaeda forces have been captured or killed.

Northern Distribution Network and Other Aid to Afghan Security

Russian cooperation has been crucial to the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. In February 2009, Russia paved the way for the expansion of the Northern Distribution Network supply route into Afghanistan by allowing the resumption of shipment of non-lethal equipment into Afghanistan through Russia. (Russia had suspended the shipments in 2008 over differences over the Russia-Georgia conflict.) About half of all ground cargo for U.S. forces in Afghanistan has flowed through the Northern Distribution Network as of 2011, and the United States has emphasized this network at times of strains in U.S. relations with Pakistan, despite the extra costs as compared to the Pakistan route. The northern route has played a significant role in removing much U.S. equipment as the U.S. drawdown proceeds.

In November 2010, in its most significant intervention in Afghanistan since its occupation, Russian officers reportedly joined U.S. and Afghan forces attempting to interdict narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan. However, the move prompted a complaint by President Karzai because he was not consulted about the inclusion of the Russians.

Central Asian States

These states are widely considered crucial to the U.S. transition in Afghanistan, as discussed in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report released December 19, 2011 ("Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan"). As shown in Table 6, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan have been pivotal to U.S. efforts to expand the Northern Distribution Network supply route. Kyrgyzstan is key to the U.S. ability to fly troops and supplies in and out of Afghanistan, although the facility at Manas International Airport that the United States has used since 2002 will close in July 2014. These states are also becoming crucial to the New Silk Road (NSR) strategy that seeks to help Afghanistan become a trade crossroads between South and Central Asia--a strategy that could net Kabul substantial customs duties and other economic benefits. An increasing amount of trade is flowing from Afghanistan to and through the Central Asian states. As noted below, railway lines are being built to Uzbekistan. The Panj bridge, built largely with U.S. funds, has become a major thoroughfare for goods to move between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Kazakhstan is funding a $50 million program to develop Afghan professionals. The revival of a long-standing plan to establish Afghanistan as a transit hub for Central Asian natural gas (TAPI pipeline) is discussed later in this report under "Development in Key Sectors."

The Central Asian countries have long had an interest in seeing Afghanistan stabilized and moderate. In 1996, several of the Central Asian states banded together with Russia and China into the SCO because of the perceived Taliban threat.


On security cooperation, Tajikistan allows access primarily to French combat aircraft, and Kazakhstan has allowed use of facilities in case of emergency. In May 2011, Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian state to pledge forces to Afghanistan (four non-combat troops). Earlier, in April 2010, Kazakhstan agreed to allow U.S. over flights of lethal military equipment to Afghanistan, allowing the United States to use polar routes to fly materiel directly from the United States to Bagram Airfield.


Uzbekistan, a backer of ethnic Uzbek faction leader Abdul Rashid Dostam, allowed use of Karshi-Khanabad air base by OEF forces from October 2001 until a rift emerged in May 2005 over Uzbekistan's crackdown against riots in Andijon. Uzbekistan's March 2008 agreement with Germany for it to use Karshi-Khanabad air base temporarily, for the first time since the rift with the United States, suggested potential for resumed U.S.-Uzbek cooperation on Afghanistan. Renewed U.S. discussions with Uzbekistan apparently bore some fruit with the Uzbek decision in February 2009 to allow the use of Navoi airfield for shipment of U.S./NATO goods into Afghanistan. Renewed use of Uzbekistan's facilities has become a less crucial U.S. concern in the context of the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan.

During Taliban rule, Russian and Central Asian leaders were alarmed that radical Islamic movements were receiving safe haven in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan, in particular, has long asserted that the group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), allegedly responsible for four simultaneous February 1999 bombings in Tashkent that nearly killed President Islam Karimov, is linked to Al Qaeda. |75| One of its leaders, Juma Namangani, reportedly was killed while commanding Taliban/Al Qaeda forces in Konduz in November 2001. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not directly border Afghanistan, but IMU guerrillas transited Kyrgyzstan during incursions into Uzbekistan in the late 1990s.


Currently, perhaps to avoid offending Pakistan or other actors, Turkmenistan takes a position of "positive neutrality" on Afghanistan. It does not allow its territory to be part of the Northern Distribution Network. No U.S. forces have been based in Turkmenistan.

This neutrality essentially continues the policy Turkmenistan had when the Taliban was in power. Turkmenistan was the only Central Asian state to actively engage the Taliban government, possibly viewing engagement as a more effective means of preventing spillover of radical Islamic activity from Afghanistan. It saw Taliban control as facilitating construction of the TAPI natural gas pipeline, discussed above, that was under consideration during Taliban rule and discussion of which has been revived in recent years. The September 11 events stoked Turkmenistan's fears of the Taliban and its Al Qaeda guests, and the country publicly supported the U.S.-led war.

China |76|

China's involvement in Afghanistan has been primarily to secure access to Afghan minerals and other resources but also to help its Pakistan ally avoid encirclement by India and to reduce the Islamist militant threat to China itself. China is concerned about the potential for Islamic militants who operate in Afghanistan to assist China's restive Uighur (Muslim) community. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is an opposition group in China, some of whose operatives are based in Afghanistan. A major organizer of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China has a small border with a sparsely inhabited sliver of Afghanistan known as the "Wakhan Corridor," and it is building border access routes and supply depots to facilitate China's access to Afghanistan through the corridor.

In September 2012, China and Afghanistan signed security and economic agreements, including a pledge by China to help train, fund, and equip the ANP. Prior to this agreement, China had taken only a small role in securing Afghanistan. No Chinese forces have deployed to Afghanistan, and it trained small numbers of ANP at a People's Armed Police facility in China since 2006, with a focus on counternarcotics. It also has offered training for ANSF officers at People's Liberation Army training colleges and universities. On the sidelines of the SCO meeting during June 7-8, 2012, China agreed on a strategic partnership with Afghanistan that includes security cooperation. In late October 2014, China hosted President Ghani for bilateral meetings as well as to attend a meeting of the "Heart of Asia" (Istanbul ministerial) process in Beijing. During the visit, China agreed to train 3,000 Afghan bureaucrats and to provide an additional $330 million in bilateral aid over the coming three years. From 2002 - 2014, China provided about $255 million in economic aid to Afghanistan.

Still, many experts see China's activities in Afghanistan as primarily economic driven. Chinese delegations continue to assess the potential for new investments in such sectors as mining and energy. |77| The cornerstone of China's investment to date has been the development of the Aynak copper mine south of Kabul, but that project is stalled over security issues surrounding the mine site. In early 2012, China National Petroleum Co. was awarded the rights to develop oil deposits in the Amu Darya basin (see below).

During the Taliban era, in December 2000, sensing China's increasing concern about Taliban policies, a Chinese official delegation met with Mullah Umar. However, China did not enthusiastically support U.S. military action against the Taliban, possibly because China was wary of a U.S. military buildup nearby.

Persian Gulf States

The Gulf states are considered a key part of the effort to stabilize Afghanistan. As noted, the late Ambassador Holbrooke focused substantial U.S. attention--and formed a multilateral task force--to try to curb continuing Gulf resident donations to the Taliban in Afghanistan. He maintained that these donations are a larger source of Taliban funding than is the narcotics trade. The Gulf states have also been a source of development funds and for influence with some Afghan clerics and factions.

Two Gulf states, UAE and Bahrain, have contributed some of their small forces to Afghanistan security missions. The UAE has deployed about 250 troops to OEF and ISAF security missions in southern Afghanistan, including Helmand province. Some are military medical personnel who run small clinics and health programs for Afghans in the provinces where they operate. The UAE said in March 2013 it would keep at least some forces in Afghanistan after 2014. In January 2009, Bahrain sent 100 police officers to Afghanistan to help U.S./NATO-led stabilization operations there; that tour extends until the end of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has many ties to Afghan figures as a result of its channeling of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Islamist mujahedin, factions during the war against the Soviet occupation. Some of these mujahedin later joined the Taliban. A majority of Saudi citizens practice the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam similar to that of the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia was one of three countries to formally recognize the Taliban government. Some press reports indicate that, in late 1998, Saudi and Taliban leaders discussed, but did not agree on, a plan for a panel of Saudi and Afghan Islamic scholars to decide Bin Laden's fate.

Saudi Arabia has played a role as a go-between for negotiations between the Afghan government and "moderate" Taliban figures. This role was recognized at the London conference on January 28, 2010, in which then-President Karzai stated that he saw a role for Saudi Arabia in helping stabilize Afghanistan. Some observers say that a political settlement might involve Mullah Umar going into exile in Saudi Arabia. The Afghan government also sees Saudi Arabia as a potential new source of investment; in early November 2012 Saudi Arabia agreed to fund a $100 million mosque and education center in Kabul. Some saw the investment as a Saudi effort to enhance its influence in Afghanistan as international involvement there wanes. President Ghani visited Saudi Arabia in late October 2014, in part to perform the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) but also to hold meetings with Saudi officials on potential scenarios to re-energize talks on an Afghan political settlement.

According to U.S. officials, Saudi Arabia cooperated extensively, if not publicly, with OEF. It broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban in late September 2001 and quietly permitted the United States to use a Saudi base for command of U.S. air operations over Afghanistan, but it did not permit U.S. airstrikes from it.


The United Arab Emirates, the third country that recognized the Taliban regime, is emerging as another major donor to Afghanistan. In addition to deploying about 250 troops to the U.S.-led effort (most of which are not under ISAF command), the UAE has donated at least $135 million to Afghanistan since 2002, according to the Afghan Finance Ministry. Projects funded include housing in Qandahar, roads in Kabul, a hospital in Zabol province, and a university in Khost. At the same time, the UAE property market has been an outlet for investment by Afghan leaders who may have acquired their funds through soft loans from the scandal-plagued Kabul Bank or through corruption connected to donor contracts or other businesses.


Until 2011, Qatar was not regarded as a significant player on the Afghanistan issue. It did not recognize the Taliban regime when it was in power. However, in 2010 Qatar offered itself as a mediator on Afghan reconciliation with the Taliban and U.S.-Taliban confidence-building measures that led to the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Qatar accepts the presence of Taliban mediators and served as a location for a Taliban political office that opened briefly in June 2013. Qatar has pledged to prevent the five Taliban figures who were exchanged for Bergdahl from traveling outside Qatar at least until June 2015, although it is unclear how closely Qatar is monitoring the activities of the five. Karzai's two visits to Qatar in 2013, discussed above, were related to the opening of the Taliban office in Doha.

Aid and Economic Development

Experts have long believed that accelerating economic development is pivotal to Afghanistan's stability after 2014, after which donors are likely to reduce their financial involvement in Afghanistan as military involvement declines. In December 2011, the World Bank released a report warning that an abrupt aid cutoff could lead to fiscal implosion, loss of control over the security sector, the collapse of political authority, and possible civil war. The role of the economy in post-2014 Afghanistan was assessed in an Administration report released in December 2011, called the "U.S. Economic Strategy for Afghanistan." |78|

The Obama Administration has maintained relative optimism about the Afghan economy's ability to withstand the military and donor drawdown. Afghanistan's economy (Gross Domestic Product, GDP) has grown an average of 9% per year since 2001, although aid cutbacks and political uncertainty about the post-2104 security situation caused a slowing to 3.1% growth in 2013 and a further slowing in 2014, according to the October 2014 DOD report on Afghanistan stability. U.S. officials say the government is increasingly able to execute parts of its budget and deliver basic goods and services. Government revenues have increased steadily, but still totaled less than $2.5 billion for 2013--out of the total $7 billion budget adopted. Donor aid already accounts for more than 95% of Afghanistan's GDP and at least two-thirds of total Afghan government expenditures (operating budget and development budget). Afghan officials say that Afghanistan needs at least $10 billion in donated funds per year from 2014 until 2025, at which time Afghanistan expects to be financially self-sufficient. Afghan government revenue comes mostly through taxation (68%), including through a flat 20% corporate tax rate, and most of the remainder from customs duties. The tax system has been computerized.

The uncertainty over the Afghan election harmed Afghanistan's economy and domestic revenue generation in 2014. In September 2014, the government asked donors to help it make up a $550 million shortfall in its budget from then until the end of 2014.

Since the international community intervened in Afghanistan in 2001, there have been debates over many aspects of aid to Afghanistan, including amounts, mechanisms for delivery, donor coordination, and distribution within Afghanistan. Some of the more stable provinces, such as Bamiyan and Balkh, complain that 80% of international aid has flowed to the restive provinces, ignoring the needs of poor Afghans in peaceful areas. One issue has centered on whether military-led development efforts can be successful. With regard to the Afghanistan case, a report by the SIGAR issued in November 2014 assessed that Defense Department-led development efforts in Afghanistan yielded very little result. The report was critical of aAn arm of DOD, called the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), which facilitated private investment in Afghanistan. Funding for the Task Force is included in the aid table at the end of this paper.

Adding to the complexity of strategy development is the analysis that some economic sectors in Afghanistan have been developed largely with private investment, including by wealthy or well-connected Afghans who have founded companies. Therefore, it is often difficult to determine the effects on Afghanistan's economy of aid, as compared to the effects of investment, trade, and other variables. In July 2011 then-Secretary of State Clinton and other U.S. officials articulated a post-transition vision of greater Afghan economic integration in the region and its role in a "New Silk Road" trading pattern that would presumably accelerate Afghan private sector growth and customs revenue receipts.

Further hindering Afghanistan is that its economy and society are still fragile after decades of warfare that left about 2 million dead, 700,000 widows and orphans, and about 1 million Afghan children raised in refugee camps outside Afghanistan. More than 3.5 million Afghan refugees have since returned, although a comparable number remain outside Afghanistan. As discussed, the literacy rate is very low and Afghanistan has a small, although growing, pool of skilled labor, middle managers, accountants, and information professionals. And, the widespread government corruption in Afghanistan, which is analyzed in greater detail in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman, has caused some donors to withhold funds or to avoid giving aid directly to the Afghan government.

U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan

During the 1990s, the United States was the largest single provider of assistance to the Afghan people even though no U.S. aid went directly to the Taliban government when it was in power during 1996-2001; monies were provided through relief organizations. Between 1985 and 1994, the United States had a cross-border aid program for Afghanistan, implemented by USAID personnel based in Pakistan. Citing the difficulty of administering this program, there was no USAID mission for Afghanistan from the end of FY1994 until the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in late 2001.

For all of FY2002-FY2012, the United States provided about $83 billion in assistance, including military "train and equip" for the ANA and ANP (which is about $51 billion of these funds). The figures in the tables, which include aid costs for FY2012 and the request for FY2013, do not include costs for U.S. combat operations. Those costs were about $90 billion in FY2010, $104 billion for FY2011, $93 billion for FY2012, and $82 billion for FY2013. When those costs are included, the United States has spent about $647 billion on the Afghanistan effort during FY2002-FY2013. For further information, see CRS Report RL33110, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by Amy Belasco.

Aid Oversight and Conditionality

Some laws have required the withholding of U.S. aid subject to Administration certification of Afghan compliance on a variety of issues, including counter-narcotics efforts, corruption, vetting of the Afghan security forces, Afghan human rights practices and protection of women's rights, and other issues. All required certifications have been made and virtually no U.S. funds have been withheld from Afghanistan.

The conference report on the FY2008 defense authorization bill (P.L. 110-181) established a "Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction" (SIGAR) modeled on a similar outside auditor for Iraq. Funds provided for the SIGAR are in the tables below. The SIGAR issues quarterly reports and specific audits of aspects of Afghan governance and security, with particular attention to how U.S.-provided funds have been used. The SIGAR, as of July 2012, is John Sopko. Some executive branch agencies, including USAID, have criticized some SIGAR audits as inaccurate or as highlighting problems that the agencies are already correcting. DOD took strong exception to a December 4, 2013, audit by the SIGAR that asserted that the U.S. military had failed to adequately manage risk accounting for $3 billion in DOD funds for the ANSF. |79|

Aid Authorization: Afghanistan Freedom Support Act

A key post-Taliban aid authorization bill, S. 2712, the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act (AFSA) of 2002 (P.L. 107-327, December 4, 2002), as amended, authorized about $3.7 billion in U.S. civilian aid for FY2003-FY2006. The law, whose authority has now expired, was intended to create a central source for allocating funds; that aid strategy was not implemented. However, some of the humanitarian, counternarcotics, and governance assistance targets authorized by the act were met or exceeded by appropriations. No Enterprise Funds authorized by the act have been appropriated. The act authorized the following:

  • $15 million per year in counternarcotics assistance (FY2003-FY2006);
  • $10 million per year for FY2003-FY2005 for political development, including national, regional, and local elections;
  • $80 million total to benefit women and for Afghan human rights oversight ($15 million per year for FY2003-FY2006 for the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs, and $5 million per year for FY2003-FY2006 to the Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan);
  • $425 million per year for FY2003-FY2006 in humanitarian and development aid;
  • $300 million for an Enterprise Fund; and
  • $550 million in drawdowns of defense articles and services for Afghanistan and regional militaries. (The original law provided for $300 million in drawdowns. That was increased by subsequent appropriations laws.)

A subsequent law (P.L. 108-458, December 17, 2004), implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, contained "The Afghanistan Freedom Support Act Amendments of 2004." The subtitle mandated the appointment of a U.S. coordinator of policy on Afghanistan and requires additional Administration reports to Congress.

A bill in the 110th Congress to reauthorize AFSA, H.R. 2446, passed by the House on June 6, 2007 (406-10). It would have authorized about $1.7 billion in U.S. economic aid and $320 in military aid (including drawdowns of equipment) per year for several years. A Senate version (S. 3531), with fewer provisions than the House bill, was not taken up by the full Senate.

Direct Support to the Afghan Government

Currently, the United States disburses about 50% of its donated aid funds through the Afghan government. The Kabul Conference (July 20, 2010) communique endorsed a goal of 50% direct funding and for 80% of all funds to align with Afghan government priorities. USAID has approved 14 ministries to receive direct U.S. aid. However, a SIGAR report of late January 2014 assessed that auditors hired by the U.S. government to oversee the direct aid provided found substantial potential for the misuse of some of the aid in the form of kickbacks or payment of Afghan salaries in the form of cash. |80|

The United States channels much of its direct aid through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), run by the World Bank. Donors have contributed about $6 billion to the ARTF, the funds of which are about equally split between funding Afghan salaries and priority development investments. Through FY2012, the USAID has provided about $2 billion to the ARTF.

National Solidarity Program

Through the ARTF, the United States supports an Afghan government program that promotes local decision making on development--the "National Solidarity Program" (NSP). Donors have provided the program with over $600 million, about 90% of which has been U.S. funding. The program provides block grants of up to $60,000 per project to local councils to implement their priority projects, most of which are water projects. The program has given at least 20,000 grants to a total of 21,600 villages that participate in the program--participation requires setting up a Community Development Council (CDC) to help decide on what projects should be funded. The Afghan implementer is the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. It is widely hailed by many institutions as a highly effective, Afghan-run program. U.S. funds for the program are drawn from a broad category of ESF for "good governance."

Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund

The Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund was set up in early 2013 to channel an additional percentage of U.S. aid directly to Afghanistan. The fund is managed by the Asian Development Bank. An initial U.S. contribution of $45 million was made in March 2013, but was supplemented by tens of millions more to support a power grid project running north-south. (This is not the same program as the U.S. "Afghan Infrastructure Fund," which is a DOD-State program to fund Afghan infrastructure projects.)

Other Donor Aid

As shown in Table 9, non-U.S. donors, including such institutions as the EU and the Asian Development Bank, provided over $29 billion in assistance to Afghanistan from the fall of the Taliban until 2012. When combined with U.S. aid, this by far exceeds the $27.5 billion for reconstruction identified by the IMF as required for 2002-2010. Major pledges have been made primarily at donor conferences such as Tokyo (2002), Berlin (April 2004), Kabul (April 2005), London (February 2006), Paris (June 2008), London (January 2010), and Tokyo (July 2012).

The Tokyo conference (July 8, 2012) focused on identifying sources of post-2014 assistance (2012-2022 is termed the "transformation decade"). |81| At the conference, the United States and its partners pledged a total of $16 billion in aid to Afghanistan through 2015 ($4 billion per year for 2012-2015) and agreed to sustain support through 2017 at levels at or near the past decade. As part of that overall pledge, at the conference, then-Secretary Clinton said the Administration would ask Congress to sustain U.S. aid to Afghanistan at roughly the levels it has been through 2017. Among other major pledges, Japan pledged $5 billion over five years (2012-2017), and Germany pledged $550 million over four years (2014-2016).

The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework issued in concert with the final conference declaration lays out requirements of the Afghan government in good governance, anti-corruption, holding free and fair elections, and human rights. As an incentive, if Afghanistan meets the benchmarks, the Framework will increase (to 10% by 2014 and to 20% by 2024) the percentage of aid provided through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and other incentive mechanisms. The ARTF gives Kabul the maximum discretion in use of the donated funds. A senior officials meeting held in Kabul on July 3, 2013, to review the Afghan performance found that the Afghan government had met only a few of the stipulated benchmarks and was making slow progress on most of the others. A follow-up to the Tokyo conference is the London Conference that will be held on December 4, 2014. The meeting, which will be attended by President Ghani and CEO Abdullah, will assess the government's progress on the stipulated benchmarks as well as arrange donor economic assistance from 2015-2017. (See CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman, for more information.)

Among multilateral lending institutions, the World Bank has been key to Afghanistan's development. In May 2002, the World Bank reopened its office in Afghanistan after 20 years. Its projects have been concentrated in the telecommunications and road and sewage sectors. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also been playing a major role in Afghanistan, including in financing railway construction. The ADB funded the paving of a road from Qandahar to the border with Pakistan and contributed to a project to bring electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan. On the eve of the London donor's conference of January 28, 2010, the IMF and World Bank announced $1.6 billion in Afghanistan debt relief.

Development in Key Sectors

Efforts to build the legitimate economy are showing some results, by accounts of senior U.S. officials. Some sectors, discussed below, are being developed primarily (although not exclusively) with private investment funding. There has been substantial new construction, particularly in Kabul, including luxury hotels; a $25 million Coca Cola bottling factory (opened in September 2006); apartment and office buildings; and marriage halls and other structures. The bottling factory is located near the Bagrami office park (another private initiative), which includes several other factories. The Serena luxury hotel was built by the Agha Khan foundation, a major investor in Afghanistan. Phase one of a major, multi-billion dollar development near the Kabul airport, called "New Kabul City," is in the early stages of construction.

On the other hand, uncertainty about the post-2014 political and security situation is causing some Afghan businessmen to relocate outside the country, or to develop external components of their business in case the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates. The following sections outline what has been accomplished with U.S. and international donor funds and private investment.


Despite the success in enrolling Afghan children in school since the Taliban era (8 million in school, of which about 40% are girls), continuing Taliban attacks on schools have caused some to close. Afghanistan's university system is said to be highly underfunded, in part because Afghans are entitled to free higher education (to the B.A. level) by the Constitution, which means that demand for the higher education far outstrips Afghan resources. The shortfall is impeding the development of a large enough pool of skilled workers for the Afghan government. Afghanistan requires about $35 million to operate its universities and institutes for one year. A substantial portion of USAID funds have gone directly to the Ministry of Education for the printing and distribution of textbooks.


The health care sector, as noted by Afghan observers, has made considerable gains in reducing infant mortality and giving about 85% of the population at least some access to health professionals. Still, according to some outside groups, nearly 20% of all Afghans had a close relative or friend who died in 2013 because that person was unable to reach medical care or because of unaffordable cost--even though health care is free according to Afghan law and regulations. |82|

USAID funds for health have gone directly to the Ministry of Health to contract with international NGOs to buy medical supplies for clinics. Egypt operates a 65-person field hospital at Bagram Air Base that instructs Afghan physicians, and Jordan operates a similar facility in Mazar-e-Sharif. A $236 million USAID program called "Partnership Contracts for Health"provided immunizations, prenatal exams, and equipment and salaries in 13 provinces.


Road building is considered a U.S. and international priority. At least 10,000 miles of roads have been built since 2001 by all donors, of which about half was funded by the United States. Road construction has been USAID's largest project category there, accounting for about $2 billion in U.S. spending since the fall of the Taliban. |83| Roads are considered key to enabling Afghan farmers to bring legitimate produce to market in a timely fashion, and former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan General Eikenberry (later Ambassador) said "where the roads end, the Taliban begin." The major road, the Ring Road (including Highway One from Qandahar to Kabul), has been completely repaved using funds from various donors, including substantial funds from the Asian Development Bank, at a total expense of about $4 billion (all donors).

Among other major projects completed are a road from Qandahar to Tarin Kowt, (Uruzgan province) built by U.S. military personnel, inaugurated in 2005; a road linking the Panjshir Valley to Kabul; nd a Salang Bypass Road through Bamiyan province. In several of the most restive provinces, U.S. funds, including CERP, have been used to build small roads linking farming communities to the markets for their products. The October 2014 DOD report states that completing the Khost-Gardez highway is one of four high priority infrastructure projects for USAID.

The Afghan government has committed to developing an East-West road across Afghanistan, from Herat to Kabul. However, funding only for a few segments (Herat to Chest-e-Sharif, and Maidany Shar to Bamiyan, and Bamiyan City to Yakowlang in that same province) has been identified, from Italy and Japan.

On the other hand, observers not that the Afghan government lacks the resources to adequately maintain the roads built with international funds. Many of the roads built have fallen into disrepair and are marked with major potholes.


Afghan officials say that trade with Central Asia increased after a bridge over the Panj River, connecting Afghanistan and Tajikistan, opened in late 2007. The bridge was built with $33 million in (FY2005) U.S. assistance. The bridge is helping what press reports say is robust reconstruction and economic development in the relatively peaceful and ethnically homogenous province of Panjshir, the political base of the Northern Alliance.


Afghanistan is beginning to develop functioning railways--a sector it lacked as a legacy of security policy during the late 19th century that saw railroads as facilitating invasion of Afghanistan. Rail is considered increasing crucial to Afghanistan's ability to develop its mineral wealth because it is the means by which minerals can be exported to neighboring countries. Three railway projects are underway. One, a 75 mile line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Hairaton, on the border with Uzbekistan, was completed in March 2011 with $165 million from the Asian Development Bank. It began operations in early 2012 and shortly thereafter began carrying its peak capacity of 4,000 tons of cargo per month. In September 2012, the government established the Afghan Rail Authority to maintain and regulate this sector.

Some planned rail lines might not get built if foreign investors believe they will not yield a significant payoff for their projects in the mining sector. In particular, China has committed to building a rail line from its Mes Aynak copper mine project to the northern border and it is conducting a feasibility study for that railway as of mid-2014. A spur to the Hajji Gak iron mine would be funded by India (about $1 billion) as part of its project there. However, there are indications India and China might opt instead truck their minerals out, a process that would slow full exploitation of these mines. There are also plans to build a line from Herat and Kabul to Qandahar, and then on to the border with Pakistan. The planned railways will link Afghanistan to the former Soviet railway system in Central Asia, and to Pakistan's railway system, increasing Afghanistan's economic integration in the region.


This sector has been a major U.S. focus because the expansion of electricity proves popular with the Afghan public. The United States has pledged $340 million in direct aid to the national power company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkas (DABS), to generate revenue from power provision and manage the nation's electricity grid. Some of the U.S. funding comes from an "Infrastructure Fund" funded by DOD. That authority was provided in the FY2011 DOD authorization bill (P.L. 111-383). Actual funding is depicted in the aid tables below. The SIGAR reported in April 2013 that DABS will require Afghan government subsidies beyond March 2014, at which time it was supposed to become self-sufficient financially. However, the DOD report of October 2014 says that DABS is now operating without government subsidies.

The Afghan government set a goal for electricity to reach 65% of households in urban areas and 25% in rural areas by 2010--a goal that was not met--but USAID says that as of April 2013, DABS serves about 28% of the population. Power shortages in Kabul, caused in part by the swelling of Kabul's population to about 4 million, have been alleviated as of 2009 by Afghan government agreements with several Central Asian neighbors to import electricity, as well as construction of new plants such as that at Tarakhil in north Kabul. Kabul is now generally lit up at night. There has been some criticism of the 105 megawatt Tarakhil plant, built at a cost of about $300 million, because of the high costs of fuel, the questionable need for it, and the possible inability of the Afghan authorities to maintain it. USAID has spent a $35 million to help the national electric utility--operate and maintain the plant. In January 2013, Afghanistan gained formal title to the Tarakhil plant as well as two less efficient power plants built by Iran in western Afghanistan. Russia has refurbished some long dormant hydroelectric projects in Afghanistan that were suspended when Soviet troops withdrew in 1989.

Kajaki Dam. Much of the U.S. electricity capacity effort has been focused on southern Afghanistan. The key long-term project is to expand the capacity of the Kajaki Dam, located in Helmand Province ("Kandahar-Helmand Power Project," KHPP). Currently, two turbines are operating--one was always working, and the second was repaired by USAID contractors. This has doubled electricity production in the south and caused small factories and other businesses to come to flourish.

As of December 31, 2012, USAID has obligated $140 million to the project. USAID had planned to further expand capacity of the dam by installing a third turbine (which there is a berth for but which never had a turbine installed.) The DOD report of October 2014 identifies the third turbine as one of the four infrastructure project priorities for USAID. In September 2008, 4,000 NATO troops (Operation Ogap Tsuka) delivered components of the third turbine to the dam, hoping to install it by 2010, but technical and security problems delayed the project. In early 2013, USAID decided to instead provide these funds to DABS so that it could contract for completion of the work, and $75 million of the U.S. aid to DABS is obligated for the third turbine installation. Another $205 million is being spent by the Army Corps of Engineers to improve power lines and substations fed by the dam. |84|

Because the Kajaki Dam has not been at optimal capacity, since 2009 the U.S. military and USAID have implemented a plan ("Kandahar Power Bridging Solution") to build smaller substations and generator projects that can bring more electricity to Qandahar and other places in the south quickly. The initiative was intended at least in part to support the U.S.-military led counterinsurgency strategy in Qandahar during 2009-2013. Some of the power provided by additional diesel generators is being used to supply the Qandahar Industrial Park. There was extensive criticism of the Bridging Solution based on the cost of fuel for the diesel generators, for which the Afghans are dependent on continued U.S. funding. However, the October 2014 DOD report on Afghanistan states that in 2014 DOD has reduced subsidies for the fuel and that DABS is shifting to a more market-based pricing for supplying electricity to consumers.

The SIGAR also recommended that some attention be shifted to building up northern power distribution routes rather than focusing exclusively on the south and east. Some of the USAID funds provided to DABS, including through the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund above, are being used to build a north-south power grid. The October 2014 DOD report states that "Power Transmission and Connectivity" - a reference to this project - is one of USAID's four priority infrastructure projects.

There is also an apparent increasing emphasis on providing electricity to individual homes and villages through small solar power installations. A contractor to USAID, IRG, has provided small solar powered-electricity generators to homes in several districts of Afghanistan, alleviating the need to connect such homes to the national power grid. However, there are technical drawbacks, including weather-related inconsistency of power supply and the difficulty of powering appliances that require substantial power. The U.S. broadcasting service to Afghanistan, Radio Azadi, run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has given out 20,000 solar-powered radios throughout Afghanistan.


Even though only about 12.5% of Afghanistan's land is arable, about 80% of Afghans live in rural areas and the agriculture sector has always been key to Afghanistan's economy and stability. About 25% of Afghanistan's GDP is contributed by agriculture. The late Ambassador Holbrooke, including in his January 2010 strategy document, outlined U.S. policy to boost Afghanistan's agriculture sector not only to reduce drug production but also as an engine of economic growth. Prior to the turmoil that engulfed Afghanistan in the late 1970s, Afghanistan was a major exporter of agricultural products. From 2002 until the end of 2012, USAID obligated $1.9 billion to build capacity at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), increase access to markets, and provide alternatives to poppy cultivation, according to a January 2013 SIGAR report.

USAID programs have helped Afghanistan double its legitimate agricultural output over the past five years. One emerging "success story" is growing Afghan exports of high-quality pomegranate juice called Anar. Other countries are promoting not only pomegranates but also saffron, rice, and other crops that draw buyers outside Afghanistan. In 2013, Afghanistan produced 4.5 tons of saffron, most of which was exported abroad. Another emerging success story is Afghanistan's November 2010 start of exports of raisins to Britain. |85| Wheat production was robust in 2009 because of healthy prices for that crop, and Afghanistan is again self-sufficient in wheat production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has about 110 personnel in Afghanistan on long-term and priority projects; there are also at least 25 agriculture experts from USAID in Afghanistan. Their efforts include providing new funds to buy seeds and agricultural equipment, and to encourage agri-business. In addition, the National Guard from several states deployed nine "Agribusiness Development Teams" to help Afghan farmers with water management, soil enhancement, crop cultivation, and improving the development and marketing of their goods.

U.S. strategy has addressed not only crop choice but also trying to construct the entirety of the infrastructure needed for a healthy legitimate agriculture sector, including road building, security of the routes to agriculture markets, refrigeration, storage, transit through Pakistan and other transportation of produce, building legitimate sources of financing, and other aspects of the industry. U.S. officials in Kabul say that Pakistan's restrictions on trade between Afghanistan and India had prevented a rapid expansion of Afghan pomegranate exports to that market, but the transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, discussed above, is expected to alleviate some of these bottlenecks. Dubai is another customer for Afghan pomegranate exports.

There is a vibrant timber industry in the northeast provinces. However, the exports are illegal. Deforestation has been outlawed because of the potential for soil erosion and other economic and environmental effects.

In terms of specific programming, USAID has a $150 million program for the relatively safe areas of Afghanistan to continue to develop licit crops. The Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, and West (IDEA-NEW) program is planned to run through FY2014. In southern and eastern areas of the country where counterinsurgency operations are ongoing, USAID's $474 million Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture (AVIPA-Plus) program ran through FY2011 and includes initiatives coordinated with U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Helmand and Qandahar provinces. The program provides vouchers for wheat seed, fertilizer, and tools, in addition to supporting cash for work programs and small grants to local cooperatives.


Several Afghan telecommunications firms have been formed and over $1.2 billion in private investment has flowed into this sector, according to the DOD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. With startup funds from the Agha Khan Foundation (the Agha Khan is leader of the Isma'ili community, which is prevalent in northern Afghanistan), the highly successful Roshan cellphone company was founded. Another Afghan cellphone firm is Afghan Wireless. The most significant post-Taliban media network is Tolo Television, owned by Moby Media. U.S. funds are being used to supplement the private investment; a $4 million U.S. grant, in partnership with the Asia Consultancy Group, is being used to construct communication towers in Bamiyan and Ghor provinces. The Afghan government is attempting to link all major cities by fiber optic cable.


The 52-year-old national airline, Ariana, is said to be in significant financial trouble due to corruption that has affected its safety ratings and left it unable to service a heavy debt load. However, there are new privately run airlines, such as Safi Air (run by the Safi Group, which has built a modern mall in Kabul) and Kam Air. Another, Pamir, was ordered closed in 2010 due to safety concerns. In January 2013, the U.S. military ceased contracting with an Afghan airline, Kam Air, on the grounds that it was helping traffic opium; the U.S. military rescinded the ruling after Afghan complaints that questioned the allegation. The Afghan government agreed to investigate the allegations.

Mining and Gems

Afghanistan's mining sector has been largely dormant since the Soviet invasion. Some Afghan leaders complain that not enough has been done to revive such potentially lucrative industries as minerals mining, such as of copper and lapis lazuli (a stone used in jewelry). The issue became more urgent in June 2010 when the DOD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations announced, based on surveys, that Afghanistan may have untapped minerals worth over $1 trillion. |86| Although copper and iron are the largest categories by value, there are believed to also be significant reserves of such minerals as lithium in western Afghanistan--lithium is crucial to the new batteries being used to power electric automobiles. However, as noted above, some of the expected revenue from this sector might not materialize if investors decide not to build rail lines needed to export the minerals from Afghanistan in large volumes. An additional brake on investment is the lack of legislative action on a new Law on Mines. The Afghan cabinet approved a draft in February 2013 and sent it to the National Assembly in July 2013, but the Assembly has not acted on it to date.

Mes Aynak Copper Field. A major project, signed in November 2007, is with China Metallurgical Group for the company to invest $3.0 billion to develop Afghanistan's Mes Aynak copper field in Lowgar Province. The agreement, viewed as generous to the point where it might not be commercially profitable for China Metallurgical Group, includes construction of two coal-fired electric power plants (one of which will supply more electricity to Kabul city); a segment of railway (discussed above); and a road from the project to Kabul. Work on the mine was slowed by various factors, including the need to clear mines in the area and to excavate ancient Buddhist artifacts that local activists insist be preserved. Actual extraction was expected to begin in mid-2012, and still has not begun. U.S. forces do not directly protect the project, but U.S. forces have set up small bases on some of the roads leading to the mine project to provide general stability there.

Hajji Gak Iron Ore Project. In September 2011 seven bids were submitted for another large mining project, the Hajji Gak iron ore mine (which may contain 60 billion tons of iron ore) in Bamiyan Province. The bids--from Chinese, Indian, and other firms--were evaluated and, in late 2011, the Steel Authority for India Ltd. (SAIL) was awarded the largest share of the project. One of the four blocs of the project was awarded to Kilo Gold of Canada. As of the end of 2012, the contract had not been finalized. The project is expected to generate $200 million in annual government revenues when fully operational--expected by 2017--although this level might not be reached unless the associated rail lines are built to allow export in high volumes.

Other mining projects have been awarded (subject to finalized contract negotiations):

  • The Balkhab coooper mine in Sar-i-Pol Province, awarded to Afghan Gold and Minerals Co.
  • The Shaida copper mine in Herat Province, awarded to Afghan Minerals Group
  • The Badakshan gold project, in that province, awarded to Turkish-Afghan Mining Co.
  • Zarkashan copper and gold project (Ghazni Province), awarded to Sterling Mining/Belhasa International LLC.

Oil, Gas, and Related Pipelines

Years of war have stunted developed of a hydrocarbons energy sector in Afghanistan. The country has no hydrocarbons export industry and a small refining sector that provides some of Afghanistan's needs for gasoline or other fuels. Most of Afghanistan's fuel comes from neighboring states. However, Afghanistan's prospects in this sector appeared to brighten by the announcement in March 2006 of an estimated 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 36.5 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, amounts that could make Afghanistan self-sufficient in energy or even able to export. In a major development, on December 15, 2010, the Afghan government let a six-month contract to a local firm, Ghazanfar Neft Gas (Ghazanfar Group), to collect and market crude oil from the Angot field in northern Afghanistan (part of a field that may contain 80 million barrels of oil), initially producing at the low rate of 800 barrels per day.

The energy sector took a major step forward with the awarding in early 2012 of development rights to the Amu Darya basin (northern Afghanistan) oil fields to China National Petroleum Co. The field began producing at about 5,000 barrels per day in early 2013, with a longer-term potential of 145,000 barrels per day. The $3 billion development has a local partner, the Watan Group, owned by Karzai relatives Rashid and Rateb Popal.

Among pending development, in November 2012 a consortium consisting of Kuwait Energy, Dragon Oil of UAE, Turkey's state-owned TPAO, and the Ghazanfar Group (see above) bid to develop part of the "Afghan-Tajik Basin," estimated to hold 950 million barrels of oil, 7 trillion cubic feet of gas, and other gas liquids. China National Petroleum Company won a contract to develop large oil fields in Balkh Province (Angot field, including Kasha Kari bloc and others), estimated to hold 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

USAID has funded test projects to develop gas resources in northern Afghanistan. A key project is to build a 200 megawatt gas-fired thermal plant and associated transmission lines in northern Afghanistan ("Shehbergan Program"). The October 2014 DOD report identifies the Shebergan program as one of the four USAID infrastructure priorities for Afghanistan. The plant would be part of a plan to link Afghanistan's natural gas field in Shehbergan to the population center in Mazar-e-Sharif. The total cost of the project, targeted for 2016 completion, is estimated at $580 million, provided by USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the Asian Development Bank, and the Afghan government. In December 2013, Turkish National Petroleum Company received a $37 million contract to drill natural gas wells in the Juma and Bashikurd fields (near the Angot oilfields discussed above).

Another pilot project, funded by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, is to develop filling stations and convert cars to use compressed natural gas (CNG), which is produced in the gas field in Shehbergan and could provide an inexpensive source of fuel in the future.

TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Gas Pipeline Project.

Another long-stalled major energy project appears to be gaining momentum. During 1996-1998, the Clinton Administration supported proposed natural gas and oil pipelines through western Afghanistan as an incentive for the warring factions to cooperate. A consortium led by Los Angeles-based Unocal Corporation proposed a $7.5 billion Central Asia Gas Pipeline that would originate in southern Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan, with possible extensions into India. |87| The deterioration in U.S.-Taliban relations after 1998 suspended hopes for the pipeline projects. In May 2002, the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan agreed to revive the project and sponsors signed a series of preliminary agreements at an inaugural meeting in July 2002, in Turkmenistan. In late 2011, the Asian Development Bank agreed to finance the project, removing what had been a major hurdle. On July 8, 2014, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India signed an operational agreement on the pipeline under which Pakistan and India would each get 42% of the gas transported and Afghanistan would get the remainder. India is a large customer for natural gas and its participation is considered crucial to making the venture commercially viable. |88| U.S. officials view this project as a superior alternative to a proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India, transiting Pakistan.

Trade Promotion/Reconstruction Opportunity Zones

The key to U.S. economic strategy, as exemplified by the New Silk Road strategy, is to encourage Afghanistan's trade relationships. The United States is doing so by promoting regional economic integration, discussed above, as well as through bilateral economic agreements with Afghanistan. A key to the strategy was accomplished in 2011 when Afghanistan and Pakistan finalized provisions to implement their 2010 transit trade agreement. To facilitate Afghanistan's ability to increase trade, USAID is funding a five-year project ($63 million total during 2010-2014) to simplify the customs clearance process. This includes new import procedures that have reduced the time needed for imports to clear customs by 45%. On December 13, 2004, the 148 countries of the World Trade Organization voted to start membership talks with Afghanistan.

Earlier, in September 2004, the United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA), and most of Afghanistan's exports are eligible for duty free treatment under the enhanced Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The Administration economic strategy report of December 2011 says the Administration is reaching out to Afghan exporters and U.S. importers of Afghan products to make increased use of the GSP program. The TIFA is seen as a prelude to a broader and more complex bilateral free trade agreement, but negotiations on an FTA have not yet begun.

Another initiative supported by the United States is the establishment of joint Afghan-Pakistani "Reconstruction Opportunity Zones" (ROZs) which would be modeled after "Qualified Industrial Zones" run by Israel and Jordan in which goods produced in the zones receive duty free treatment for import into the United States. Bills in the 110th Congress, S. 2776 and H.R. 6387, would have authorized the President to proclaim duty-free treatment for imports from ROZs to be designated by the President. In the 111th Congress, a version of these bills was introduced (S. 496 and H.R. 1318). President Obama specifically endorsed passage of these bills in his March 2009 strategy announcement. H.R. 1318 was incorporated into H.R. 1886, a major Pakistan aid appropriation that passed by the House on June 11, 2009, and was then appended to H.R. 2410. However, the version of the major Pakistan aid bill that became law (S. 1707, P.L. 111-73) did not authorize ROZs.

Table 7. Major Reporting Requirements

Several provisions require Administration reports on numerous aspects of U.S. strategy, assistance, and related issues.
  • P.L. 108-458, The Afghanistan Freedom Support Act Amendments required, through the end of FY2010, an overarching annual report on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Other reporting requirements expired, including required reports (1) on long-term U.S. strategy and progress of reconstruction; (2) on how U.S. assistance is being used; (3) on U.S. efforts to persuade other countries to participate in Afghan peacekeeping; and (4) a joint State and DOD report on U.S. counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan.
  • P.L. 110-181 (Section 1230), FY2008 Defense Authorization Act requires a quarterly DOD report on the security situation in Afghanistan; the first was submitted in June 2008. It was required by that law through FY20II. Section 1231 required a report on the Afghan National Security Forces through the end of FY20I0. The FY20I2 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81) extended the reporting requirement--the reports entitled "Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan" cover a six month period--until the end of FY20I4.
  • Section 1229 of the same law requires the quarterly report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
  • P.L. III-8 (Omnibus Appropriation, explanatory statement) required a State Department report on the use of funds to address the needs of Afghan women and girls (submitted by September 30, 2009).
  • P.L. 111-32, FY2009 Supplemental Appropriation (Section 1116), required a White House report, by the time of the FY20II budget submission, on whether Afghanistan and Pakistan are cooperating with U.S. policy sufficiently to warrant a continuation of Administration policy toward both countries, as well as efforts by these governments to curb corruption, their efforts to develop a counter-insurgency strategy, the level of political consensus in the two countries to confront security challenges, and U.S. government efforts to achieve these objectives. The report was released with a date of September 30, 2010.
  • The same law (Section 1117) required a report, by September 23, 2009, on metrics to be used to assess progress on Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. A progress report measured against those metrics is to be submitted by March 30, 2010, and every six months thereafter, until the end of FY2011.
  • Section 1228 of the FY20I0 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-84) required a report, within I20 days, on the Afghan Provincial Protection Program and other local security initiatives. Section I235 authorized a DOD-funded study of U.S. force levels needed for eastern and southern Afghanistan, and Section 1226 required a Comptroller General report on the U.S. "campaign plan" for the Afghanistan (and Iraq) effort.
  • Sections 1212-1226 of the FY20I3 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310, P.L. 112-239) contains several reporting or congressional notification requirements on Afghanistan, on issues such as women's rights, an independent assessment of the performance of the ANSF, negotiations on the bilateral security agreement, the political reconciliation and insurgent reintegration process, the U.S. campaign plan, insider attacks, any changes to U.S. troop levels, and other issues. These sections also contain authorities on use of some DOD funds in Afghanistan, such as CERP and funding for the reintegration process.

Table 8. Comparative Social and Economic Statistics


28 million +. Kabul population is 3 million, up from 500,000 in Taliban era.
Ethnicities/Religions Pashtun 42%; Tajik 27%; Uzbek 9%; Hazara 9%; Aimak 4%; Turkmen 3%; Baluch 2%.
Size of Religious Minorities Religions: Sunni (Hanafi school) 80%; Shiite (Hazaras, Qizilbash, and Isma'ilis) 19%; other 1% Christians- estimated 500-8,000 persons; Sikh and Hindu-3,000 persons; Bahai's-400 (declared blasphemous in May 2007); Jews-1 person; Buddhist- small numbers. No Christian or Jewish schools. One church.
Literacy Rate 28% of population over 15 years of age. 43% of males; 12.6% of females.
GDP, and GDP Growth and Unemployment Rates $33.55 billion purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2012. 109th in the world. Per capita: $1,000 purchasing power parity. 212th in the world. Growth has averaged about 9% per year every year since Taliban rule. GDP was about $10 billion (PPP) during last year of Taliban rule. Unemployment rate is about 8%, but underemployment rate may be nearly 50%.
Children in School/Schools Built since 2002 8 million, of which 40% are girls. Up from 900,000 boys in school during Taliban era. 4,000 schools built (all donors) and 140,000 teachers hired since Taliban era. 17 universities, up from 2 in 2002. 75,000 Afghans in universities in Afghanistan (35% female); 5,000 when Taliban was in power.
Afghans With Access to Health Coverage 65% with basic health services access-compared to 8% during Taliban era. Infant mortality down 22% since Taliban to 135 per 1,000 live births. 680 clinics built.
Roads Built About 3,000 miles paved post-Taliban, including repaving of "Ring Road" (78% complete) that circles the country. Kabul-Qandahar drive reduced to 6 hours. About 1,500 additional miles still under construction.
Judges/Courts Over 1,000 judges (incl. 200 women) trained since fall of Taliban.
Banks Operating 17, including branches in some rural areas, but about 90% of the population still use hawalas (informal money transfer services). No banks existed during Taliban era. Some limited credit card use. Some Afghan police now paid by cell phone (E-Paisa).
Access to Electricity 15%-20% of the population. Much of its electricity imported from neighboring states.
Government Revenues (excl. donor funds) About $2 billion in 2012 compared to $200 million in 2002. Total Afghan budget is about $4.5 billion (including development funds)--shortfall covered by foreign donors, including through Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.
Financial Reserves/Debt About $4.4 billion, up from $180 million in 2002. Includes amounts due Central Bank. $8 billion bilateral debt, plus $500 million multilateral. U.S. forgave $108 million in debt in 2004, and $1.6 billion forgiven by other creditors in March 2010.
Foreign/Private Investment About $500 million to $1 billion per year. Four Afghan airlines: Ariana (national) plus at least two privately owned: Safi and Kam. Turkish Air and India Air fly to Kabul.
Legal Exports/Agriculture 80% of the population is involved in agriculture. Self-sufficiency in wheat production as of May 2009 (first time in 30 years). Exports: $400 million+ (2011): fruits, raisins, melons, pomegranate juice (Anar), nuts, carpets, lapis lazuli gems, marble tile, timber products (Kunar, Nuristan provinces).
Oil Proven Reserves 3.6 billion barrels of oil, 36.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. Current oil production negligible, but USAID funding project to revive oil and gas facilities in the north.
Cellphones/Tourism About 18 million cellphone subscribers, up from neglibile amounts during Taliban era. Tourism: National park opened in Bamiyan June 2009. Increasing tourist visits.

Sources: CIA, The World Factbook; various press and U.S. government official testimony; IMF and World Bank estimates.

Table 9. Major Non-U.S. Pledges for Afghanistan 2002-2012
($ in millions)


European Union 2,880
Germany 2,680
Asian Development Bank 2,270
Britain 2,220
World Bank 2,140
India 1,515
Canada 1,255
Iran 1,000
Netherlands 775
Norway 745
Australia 645
Italy 645
Sweden 635
United Nations 445
Denmark 435
France 320
China 255
Spain 220
Turkey 210
Finland 160
Russia 150
Saudi Arabia 140
UAE 135
Switzerland 120
South Korea 115
Czech Republic 105

(includes donors of
under $ 100 million,
not listed)

(of which
$ 19,700 disbursed--
about 80%)

Sources: Afghanistan Ministry of Finance: Development Cooperation Report, 2010; various U.S. government reports, including Defense Department reports on Afghanistan stability. Figure for Japan includes $5 billion pledged in 2008 (over five years) to fund Afghan National Police salaries, and funds pledged at July 8, 2012, Tokyo donors conference. Figures for Germany included $550 million pledged (over four years) at that meeting.
Note: Table includes donors of over $100 million only.

Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY 1978-FY1998
($ in millions)

Fiscal Year

Devel. Assist.

Econ. Supp.

P.L. 480
(Title I and II)


Other (Incl.
Regional Refugee Aid)








1979 3.074 -- 7.195 -- 0.347 10.616
1980 -- (Soviet invasion-December 1979) -- --
1981 -- -- -- -- -- --
1982 -- -- -- -- -- --
1983 -- -- -- -- -- --
1984 -- -- -- -- -- --
1985 3.369 -- -- -- -- 3.369
1986 -- -- 8.9 -- -- 8.9
1987 17.8 12.1 2.6 -- -- 32.5
1988 22.5 22.5 29.9 -- -- 74.9
1989 22.5 22.5 32.6 -- -- 77.6
1990 35.0 35.0 18.1 -- -- 88.1
1991 30 30 20.1 -- -- 80.1
1992 25.0 25.0 31.4 -- -- 81.4
1993 10 10 18.0 -- 30.2 68.2
1994 3.4 2.0 9.0 -- 27.9 42.3
1995 1.8 -- 12.4 -- 31.6 45.8
1996 -- -- 16.1 -- 26.4 42.54
1997 -- -- 18.0 -- 31.9a 49.94
1998 -- --
-- 49.14b 52.74

Source: Department of State.

a. Includes $3 million for demining and $1.2 million for counternarcotics.
b. Includes $3.3 million in projects targeted for Afghan women and girls, $7 million in earthquake relief aid, 100,000 tons of 416B wheat worth about $15 million, $2 million for demining, and $1.54 for counternarcotics.

Table 11. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY 1999-FY2001
($ in millions)




U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA) and USAID Food For Peace (FFP), via World Food Program (WFP)

42.0 worth of wheat (100,000 metric tons under "416(b)" program.)

68.875 for 165,000 metric tons. (60,000 tons for May 2000 drought relief)

131.1 (300,000 metric tons under P.L. 480, Title II, and 416(b))
State/Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) via UNHCR and ICRC 16.95 for Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and to assist their repatriation 14.03 for the same purposes 22.03 for similar purposes
State Department/ Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) 7.0 to various NGOs to aid Afghans inside Afghanistan 6.68 for drought relief and health, water, and sanitation programs 18.934 for similar programs
State Department/HDP (Humanitarian Demining Program) 2.615 3.0 2.8
Aid to Afghan Refugees in Pakistan (through various NGOs) 5.44 (2.789 for health, training-- Afghan females in Pakistan) 6.169, of which $3.82 went to similar purposes 5.31 for similar purposes
Counter-Narcotics 1.50
USAID/Office of Transition Initiatives 0.45 (Afghan women in Pakistan)
Foreign Military Financing
Economic Support Funds (E.S.F)





Source: CRS.

Table 12. Post-Taliban U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan
(appropriations/allocations in $ millions)

Fiscal Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2002-2013 2014 2015 (req)
ESF 117 239 894 1280 473 1211 1400 2088 3346 2168 1837 1850 16903 1123 1225
DA 18.3 42.5 153 170 185 167 149 .4 .3 0 0 0 884

GHCS 7.5 49.7 33.4 38 41.5 101 63 58. 92 70 0 0 554

Refugee Accounts 160 61 63 47 42 54 44 77 82 65 99 13 807

Food Aid 206 74 99 97 108 70 231 82 32 19 0.6 0 1017

IDA 197 86 11 4 0 0 17 27 30 66 61 14 514

INCLE 60 0 220 709 216 252 308 484 589 400 324 6.1 3567 (ESF) 325
NADR 44 34.7 67 38. 18.2 37 27 49 58 69 65 54 506 (ESF) 43.5
IMET 0.2 0.4 0.7 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.7 1.4 1.8 1.6 2 0.8 14 (ESF) 1.4
FMF 57 191 414 397 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,059

Other 33 23 36 18 0.2 0.1 21 5 5.8 7.4 8 0 158

DOD--ASSF 0 0 0 995 1908 7406 2750 5607 9167 10619 9200 5124 52777 4727 4109
DOD--CERP 0 0 40 136 215 209 488 551 1000 400 400 200 3639 30 15
Infrastructure Fund 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 299 400 325 1024 199 0
Business Task Force 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 59 239 242 179 733 64 5
DOD--CN 0 0 72 225 108 391 193 230 392 376 421 372 2679

DOD--Other 7.5 165 285 540 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 998

DEA Counternarc 0.6 2.9 3.7 17 23.7 20 41 19 0 0 0 0 128

Total U.S. Assistance 909 970 2392 4712 3339 9818 5732 9292 14854 14800 13058 8084 87963 6143 5725

Sources and Notes: Prepared by Curt Tarnoff, Specialist in Foreign Assistance. P.L. 113-76 (FY2014 omnibus appropriation). Department of State budget; SIGAR reports, and CRS calculations. Does not include USG operational expenses (over $5 billion since 2002). Food aid includes P.L.480 Title II and other programs. "Other" = Office of Transition Initiatives, Treasury Assistance, and Peacekeeping. ESF = Economic Support Funds; DA = Development Assistance; GHCS = Global Health/Child Survival; FMF = Foreign Military Financing; NADR = Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, De-Mining, and Related: IMET = International Military Education and Training; INCLE = International Narcotics and Law Enforcement; ASSF = Afghan Security Forces Funding; IDA = International Disaster Assistance.

Table 13. Total Obligations for Major Programs: FY2001-FY2011
($ in millions. Source: USAID and CRS calculations)

Security Related Programs (mostly DOD funds)
Afghan National Security Forces (incl. FMF, and DOD ANSFF) 40,506
Commander Emergency Response Program (CERP) 3,039
Karzai Protection (NADR funds) 440
Counter-Narcotics (INCLE, DOD, DEA) 5,146
Other, incl de-mining operations (Halo Trust, other contractors) 155
International Military Education and Training Funds (IMET) 10.2
Defense article drawdown/DOD Infrastructure Fund/Business Task Force 1,711
Humanitarian-Related Programs
Food Aid (USDA and USAID: P.L. 480 Title I and II; Food for Progress, 416(b), Food for Education) 1,096
Migration and Refugee aid (including emergency) 690
Debt Relief for Afghan government 11
Disaster Relief (IDA) 438
USAID Development Funding: Economic Support Funds (ESF) and Development Assistance (DA) Total: 13,847
Afghan government budget support 255
Democracy (Including election support) 1,400
Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (for National Solidarity Program, etc) 1,690
(about 500 for NSP)
Rule of Law and Human Rights (not incl. some INCLE funds) 187
Roads 2,148
Power/Electricity 1,921
Education 795
Health Sector 930
Water 120
Agriculture 1,025
PRT projects (development and local governance) 1,234
Private Sector Development/Econ. Growth (incl cash-for-work) 1,122
Alternative Development/Livelihoods 1,020
Other Aid:
Child Survival and Health 554
Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) 26
Treasury Technical Assistance 3.5
Total (including minor amounts not included in table) 67,672

Table 14. NATO/ISAF Contributing Nations
(approximate as of November, 2014)

NATO Countries Non-NATO Partners

Belgium 160 Albania 22
Bulgaria 320 Armenia 121
Canada 0 Austria 3
Czech Republic 227 Australia 273
Denmark 145 Azerbaijan 94
Estonia 4 Bahrain 0
France 88 Bosnia-Herzegovina 8
Germany 1,599 Croatia 153
Greece 9 Finland 88
Hungary 101 Georgia 755
Iceland 2 Ireland 7
Italy 1,411 Jordan 626
Latvia 11 Macedonia 152
Lithuania 84 Malaysia 2
Luxemburg 1 Mongolia 40
Netherlands 30 Montenegro 25
Norway 57 New Zealand 1
Poland 304 South Korea 0
Portugal 37 Sweden 13
Romania 327 Ukraine 10
Slovakia 277 United Arab Emirates 35
Slovenia 2 Tonga 0
Spain 181
Turkey 393
United Kingdom 3,906
United States 20,000

Total Listed ISAF: 32,000 (approximate)

Sources: ISAF "Placemat" of June 1, 2014; press reports; and country announcements.
Notes: *ISAF figures reflect Canada combat troop pullout in July-August 2011. Some countries might be contributing additional forces not under ISAF command.

Table 15. Provincial Reconstruction Teams

Location (City)


U.S.-Lead (all under ISAF banner)

1. Gardez Paktia Province (RC-East, E) (closed September 2012)
2. Ghazni Ghazni (RC-E). Now mostly run by Poland.
3. Jalalabad Nangarhar (RC-E)
4. Khost Khost (RC-E)(closed September 2012)
5. Qalat Zabol (RC-South, S). with Romania.
6. Asadabad Kunar (RC-E) (closed September 2012)
7. Sharana Paktika (RC-E)
8. Mehtarlam Laghman (RC-E)(closed September 2012)
9. Jabal o-Saraj Panjshir Province (RC-E), State Department lead Z(closed September 2012)
10. Qala Gush Nuristan (RC-E)
11. Farah Farah (RC-SW)
Partner Lead (most under ISAF banner)
PRT Location Province Lead Force/Other forces
12. Qandahar Qandahar (RC-S) Canada (seat of RC-S)
13. Lashkar Gah Helmand (RC-S) Britain. with U.S., Denmark, and Estonia
14. Tarin Kowt Uruzgan (RC-S) Australia (and U.S.) (Replaced Netherlands in August 2010)
15. Herat
Herat (RC-W) Italy (seat of RC-W)
16. Qalah-ye Now Badghis (RC-W) Spain
17. Mazar-e-Sharif Balkh (RC-N) Sweden
18. Konduz Konduz (RC-N) Germany (seat of RC-N) (closed in August 2013)
29. Faizabad Badakhshan (RC-N) Germany. with Denmark, Czech Rep. (closed in September 2012)
20. Meymaneh Faryab (RC-N) Norway. with Sweden. (closed in September 2012)
21. Chaghcharan Ghowr (RC-W) Lithuania. with Denmark, U.S., Iceland (closed in September 2012)
22. Pol-e-Khomri Baghlan (RC-N) Hungary (closed in September 2012)
23. Bamiyan Bamiyan (RC-E) U.S. and New Zealand (not NATO/ISAF). (Closed in April 2013)
24. Maidan Shahr Wardak (RC-C) U.S. and Turkey
25. Pul-i-Alam Lowgar (RC-E) U.S. and Czech Republic
26. Shebergan Jowzjan (RC-N) Turkey (closed in September 2012)
27. Charikar Parwan (RC-E) South Korea (Bagram, in Parwan Province, is the base of RC-E)
28. Mahmud-i-Raqi
Kapisa (RC-E)

Note: RC = Regional Command.

Table 16. Major Factions/Leaders in Afghanistan



Ideology/ Ethnicity

Regional Base


Mullah (Islamic cleric) Muhammad Umar (still at large possibly in Afghanistan). Umar, born in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, is about 65 years old.

Ultra-orthodox Islamic, Pashtun

Throughout south and east. Small numbers elsewhere.
Haqqani Network Jalaludin Haqqani. Allied with Taliban and Al Qaeda. Said to be supported, or at least tolerated, by Pakistani ISI. Same as above Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kabul
Islamic Society (leader of "Northern Alliance") Yunus Qanooni (speaker of lower house)/Muhammad Fahim/Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (Foreign Minister 2001-2006). Ismail Khan, a so-called "warlord," heads faction of the grouping in Herat area. Former party head, Burhanuddi Rabbani, assassinated by Taliban in September 2011. Moderate Islamic, mostly Tajik Much of northern and western Afghanistan, including Kabul
National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Abdul Rashid Dostam. Was Karzai rival in October 2004 presidential election, then his top "security adviser." As of October 2011, reportedly has joined new opposition movement called "Truth and Justice Party." Secular, left-leaning, Uzbek Jowzjan, Balkh, Faryab, Sar-i-Pol, and Samangan provinces.
Hizb-e- Wahdat Composed of Shiite Hazara tribes from central Afghanistan. Former members Karim Khalili is vice president, but Mohammad Mohaqiq is Karzai rival. Generally pro-Iranian. Was part of Rabbani 1992-1996 government, and fought unsuccessfully with Taliban over Bamiyan. Still revered by Hazaras is the former leader of the group, Abdul Ali Mazari, who was captured and killed by the Taliban in March 1995. Shiite, Hazara tribes Bamiyan, Ghazni, Dai Kundi province
Pashtun tribal/regional leaders Various regional governors and local leaders in the east and south; central government led by Hamid Karzai. Moderate Islamic, Pashtun Dominant in the south and east
Hizb-e-Islam Gulbuddin (HIG) Mujahedin party leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. Was part of Soviet-era U.S.-backed "Afghan Interim Government" based in Peshawar, Pakistan. Was nominal "prime minister" in 1992-1996 mujahedin government but never actually took office. Lost power base around Jalalabad to the Taliban in 1994, and fled to Iran before being expelled in 2002. Still active in operations east of Kabul, but open to ending militant activity. Leader of a rival Hizb-e-Islam faction, Yunus Khalis, the mentor of Mullah Umar, died July 2006. Orthodox Islamic, Pashtun Small groups in Nangarhar, Nuristan, and Kunar provinces
Islamic Union Abd-I-Rab Rasul Sayyaf. Islamic conservative, leads a pro-Karzai faction in parliament. Lived many years in and politically close to Saudi Arabia, which shares his "Wahhabi" ideology. During anti-Soviet war, Sayyaf s faction, with Hikmatyar, was a principal recipient of U.S. weaponry. Criticized the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. orthodox Islamic, Pashtun Paghman (west of Kabul)
Source: CRS.

Residual Issues from Past Conflicts

A few issues remain unresolved from Afghanistan's many years of conflict, such as Stinger retrieval and mine eradication.

Stinger Retrieval

Beginning in late 1985 following internal debate, the Reagan Administration provided about 2,000 man-portable "Stinger" anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahedin for use against Soviet aircraft. Prior to the ouster of the Taliban, common estimates suggested that 200-300 Stingers remained at large, although more recent estimates put the number below 100. |89| The Stinger issue resurfaced in conjunction with 2001 U.S. war effort, when U.S. pilots reported that the Taliban fired some Stingers at U.S. aircraft. No hits were reported. The danger of these weapons has become apparent on several past occasions. Iran bought 16 of the missiles in 1987 and fired one against U.S. helicopters in the Persian Gulf. India claimed that it was a Stinger supplied to Islamic rebels in Kashmir by sympathizers in Afghanistan, that shot down an Indian helicopter over Kashmir in May 1999. |90| Soviet-made SA-7 "Strella" man-portable launchers, which allegedly have been used in the past by Al Qaeda, including against an Israeli passenger jet in Kenya on November 30, 2002, were discovered in Afghanistan by U.S. forces in December 2002.

In 1992, after the fall of the Russian-backed government of Najibullah, the United States reportedly spent about $10 million to buy the Stingers back, at a premium, from individual mujahedin commanders. The New York Times reported on July 24, 1993, that the buyback effort failed because the United States was competing with other buyers, including Iran and North Korea, and that the CIA would spend about $55 million in FY1994 in a renewed effort. On March 7, 1994, The Washington Post reported that the CIA had recovered only about 50 or 100 at-large Stingers. In February 2002, the Afghan government found and turned over to the United States "dozens" of Stingers. |91| In January 2005, Afghan intelligence began buying Stingers back, at a reported cost of $150,000 each. |92| Any Stingers that remain in Afghanistan likely pose little threat, in part because of deteriorating components. No recent uses are reported.

Mine Eradication

Land mines laid during the Soviet occupation constitute one of the principal dangers to the Afghan people. The United Nations estimates that 5 million to 7 million mines remain scattered throughout the country, although some estimates are lower. U.N. teams have destroyed 1 million mines and are now focusing on de-mining priority-use, residential and commercial property, including lands around Kabul. Amounts contributed by the United States to the de-mining effort are shown in the tables above. Most of the funds have gone to HALO Trust, a British organization, and the U.N. Mine Action Program for Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Compact adopted in London in February 2006 states that by 2010, the goal should be to reduce the land area of Afghanistan contaminated by mines by 70%.

[Source: By Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service, RL30588, Washington D.C., 02Dec14. Kenneth Katzman is a Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs]

Appendix. U.S. and International Sanctions Lifted

Virtually all U.S. and international sanctions on Afghanistan, some imposed during the Soviet occupation era and others on the Taliban regime, have now been lifted.

  • P.L. 108-458 (December 17, 2004, referencing the 9/11 Commission recommendations) repealed bans on aid to Afghanistan outright. On October 7, 1992, President George H. W. Bush had issued Presidential Determination 93-3 that Afghanistan is no longer a Marxist-Leninist country, but the determination was not implemented before he left office. Had it been implemented, the prohibition on Afghanistan's receiving Export-Import Bank guarantees, insurance, or credits for purchases under Section 8 of the 1986 Export-Import Bank Act, would have been lifted. In addition, Afghanistan would have been able to receive U.S. assistance because the requirement would have been waived that Afghanistan apologize for the 1979 killing in Kabul of U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph "Spike" Dubs. (Dubs was kidnapped in Kabul in 1979 and killed when Afghan police stormed the hideout where he was held.)
  • U.N. sanctions on the Taliban imposed by Resolution 1267 (October 15, 1999), Resolution 1333 (December 19, 2000), and Resolution 1363 (July 30, 2001) have now been narrowed to penalize only Al Qaeda (by Resolution 1390, January 17, 2002). Resolution 1267 banned flights outside Afghanistan by Ariana, and directed U.N. member states to freeze Taliban assets. Resolution 1333 prohibited the provision of arms or military advice to the Taliban (directed against Pakistan); ordered a reduction of Taliban diplomatic representation abroad; and banned foreign travel by senior Taliban officials. Resolution 1363 provided for monitors in Pakistan to ensure that no weapons or military advice was provided to the Taliban.
  • On January 10, 2003, President Bush signed a proclamation making Afghanistan a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), eliminating U.S. tariffs on 5,700 Afghan products. Afghanistan had been denied GSP on May 2, 1980, under Executive Order 12204 (45 F.R. 20740).
  • On April 24, 1981, controls on U.S. exports to Afghanistan of agricultural products and phosphates were terminated. Such controls were imposed on June 3, 1980, as part of the sanctions against the Soviet Union for the invasion of Afghanistan, under the authority of Sections 5 and 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 [P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C. app. 2404, app. 2405].
  • In mid-1992, the George H. W. Bush Administration determined that Afghanistan no longer had a "Soviet-controlled government." This opened Afghanistan to the use of U.S. funds made available for the U.S. share of U.N. organizations that provide assistance to Afghanistan.
  • On March 31, 1993, after the fall of Najibullah in 1992, President Clinton, on national interest grounds, waived restrictions provided for in Section 481 (h) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 mandating sanctions on Afghanistan, including bilateral aid cuts and suspensions, including denial of Ex-Im Bank credits; the casting of negative U.S. votes for multilateral development bank loans; and a non-allocation of a U.S. sugar quota. Discretionary sanctions included denial of GSP; additional duties on exports to the United States; and curtailment of air transportation with the United States. Waivers were also granted in 1994 and, after the fall of the Taliban, by President Bush.
  • On May 3, 2002, President Bush restored normal trade treatment to the products of Afghanistan, reversing the February 18, 1986, proclamation by President Reagan (Presidential Proclamation 5437) that suspended most-favored nation (MFN) tariff status for Afghanistan (51 F.R. 4287). The Foreign Assistance Appropriations for FY1986 [Section 552, P.L. 99-190] had authorized the denial of U.S. credits or most-favored-nation (MFN) status for Afghanistan.
  • On July 2, 2002, the State Department amended U.S. regulations (22 C.F.R. Part 126) to allow arms sales to the new Afghan government, reversing the June 14, 1996, addition of Afghanistan to the list of countries prohibited from importing U.S. defense articles and services. Arms sales to Afghanistan had also been prohibited during 1997-2002 because Afghanistan had been designated under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132) as a state that is not cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
  • On July 2, 2002, President Bush formally revoked the July 4, 1999, declaration by President Clinton of a national emergency with respect to Taliban because of its hosting of Bin Laden. The Clinton determination and related Executive Order 13129 had blocked Taliban assets and property in the United States, banned U.S. trade with Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, and applied these sanctions to Ariana Afghan Airlines, triggering a blocking of Ariana assets (about $500,000) in the United States and a ban on U.S. citizens' flying on the airline. (The ban on trade with Taliban-controlled territory had essentially ended on January 29, 2002, when the State Department determination that the Taliban controls no territory within Afghanistan.)

Figure A-1. Map of Afghanistan

Map of Afghanistan
Click to enlarge

Source: Map Resources. Adapted by CRS.

Figure A-2. Map of Afghan Ethnicities

Map of Afghan Ethnicities
Click to enlarge

Source: 2003 National Geographic Society. Adapted by Amber Wilhelm, CRS Graphics.
Notes: This map is intended to be illustrative of the approximate demographic distribution by region of Afghanistan. CRS has no way to confirm exact population distributions.


1. Daoud's grave was discovered outside Kabul in early 2008. He was reburied in an official ceremony in Kabul in March 2009. [Back]

2. For FY1991, Congress reportedly cut covert aid appropriations to the mujahedin from $300 million the previous year to $250 million, with half the aid withheld until the second half of the fiscal year. See "Country Fact Sheet: Afghanistan," in U.S. Department of State Dispatch, vol. 5, no. 23 (June 6, 1994), p. 377. [Back]

3. After failing to flee, Najibullah, his brother, and aides remained at a U.N. facility in Kabul until the Taliban movement seized control in 1996 and hanged them. [Back]

4. The Deobandi school began in 1867 in a seminary in Uttar Pradesh, in British-controlled India, that was set up to train Islamic clerics and to counter the British educational model. [Back]

5. According to press reports in December 2012, the cloak remains in the shrine, which is guarded by a family of caretakers who, despite professions of political neutrality, have suffered several assassinations over the years. [Back]

6. A pharmaceutical plant in Sudan (Al Shifa) believe to be producing chemical weapons for Al Qaeda also was struck that day, although U.S. reviews later corroborated Sudan's assertions that the plant was strictly civilian in nature. [Back]

7. [Back]

8. Drogin, Bob. "U.S. Had Plan for Covert Afghan Options Before 9/11." Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2002. [Back]

9. Mujahid has reconciled with the current Afghan government,and serves as one of the deputy leaders of the 70-member High Peace Council on political reconciliation. [Back]

10. Another law (P.L. 107-148) established a "Radio Free Afghanistan" under RFE/RL, providing $17 million in fundingfor it for FY2002. [Back]

11. In the process, Dostam captured Taliban fighters and imprisoned them in freight containers, causing many to suffocate. They were buried in a mass grave at Dasht-e-Laili. [Back]

12. Governance issues are analyzed in detail in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman. [Back]

13. Text of the released summary is at [Back]

14. Ernesto Londono. "U.S. Abandons Consulate Plan in Northern Afghanistan." Washington Post, May 6, 2012. [Back]

15. Much of the information in this section is taken from U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reports entitled, "Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan." The latest one was issued in October 2014, covering April 1 to September 30, 2014. [Back]

16. Text of the Panetta interview with ABC News is at [Back]

17. Kimberly Dozier. "Officials: Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan." Associated Press, February 28, 2014. [Back]

18. Bill Roggio. "U.S. Military Continues to Claim Al Qaeda is 'Restricted' to 'Isolated Areas of Northeastern Afghanistan." Long War Journal, November 19, 2014. [Back]

19. Gall, Carlotta and Ismail Khan. "U.S. Drone Attack Missed Zawahiri by Hours." New York Times, November 10, 2006. [Back]

20. A profile of the faction and its activities is provided in: Joshua Partlow. "In Afghan War, Haqqani Group Is 'Resilient' Foe." Washington Post, May 30, 2011. [Back]

21. DOD report on Afghan stability, April 2014. p. 12. [Back]

22. Carlotta Gall. "Terror Group Back on the Offensive in Afghanistan." New York Times, July 18, 2014. [Back]

23. Jibran Ahmad. "Afghan Haqqani Factions Would Consider Talks Under Taliban." Reuters, November 13, 2012. [Back]

24. Jane Perlez, Eric Schmitt, and Carlotta Gall. "Pakistan Is Said to Pursue Foothold in Afghanistan," New York Times, June 24, 2010. [Back]

25. Major General John Campbell, commander of RC-E, July 28, 2010, press briefing. [Back]

26. For more information on the insider attack, see CRS General Distribution memorandum "Insider Attacks in Afghanistan," October 1, 2012, available on request. [Back]

27. For detail on the issue of Afghanistan counter-narcotics, see CRS Report R43540, Afghanistan: Drug Trafficking and the 2014 Transition, by Liana Rosen and Kenneth Katzman. [Back]

28. "White Paper," [Back]

29. Commander NATO International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, and U.S. Forces, Afghanistan. "Commander's Initial Assessment." August 30, 2009, available at [Back]

30. President Obama speech, op. cit. Testimony of Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, and Admiral Mullen before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. December 2, 2009. [Back]

31. Commander NATO International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, and U.S. Forces, Afghanistan. Commander's Initial Assessment." August 30, 2009, available at White House. Remarks by the President In Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan. December 1, 2009. [Back]

32. [Back]

33. C.J. Chivers. "Afghan Conflict Losing Air Power as U.S. Pulls Out." New York Times, July 7, 2012. [Back]

34. Ernesto Londono. "U.S. Selling and Scrapping Equipment in Afghanistan." Washington Post, August 5, 2014. [Back]

35. [Back]

36. Votel Pledges Support for Special Operations Forces. DOD News, July 10, 2014. [Back]

37. DOD News, Defense Media Activity. October 2, 2014. [Back]

38. Ernesto Londono et al. "Grim Future Seen for Afghanistan." Washington Post, December 29, 2013. [Back]

39. [Back]

40. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt. "In Secret, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat." New York Times, November 22, 2014. [Back]

41. Mark Landler. "Obama Holds to Afghanistan Withdrawal Deadline." New York Times, August 20, 2014. [Back]

42. Anne Gearan. "U.S., Afghanistan Reach Post-2014 Security Accord." Washington Post, October 13, 2013. [Back]

43. Tim Craig. "Afghan Elders Press Karzai to Sign the Pact." Washington Post, November 25, 2013. [Back]

44. The text is at [Back]

45. See [Back]

46. [Back]

47. [Back]

48. White House Office of the Press Secretary. "Fact Sheet: Wales Summit - NATO's Changing Role in Afghanistan." September 4, 2014. [Back]

49. Politico. November 18, 2013. [Back]

50. Ernesto Londono. "U.S. Cites Local Afghan Police Abuses." Washington Post, December 16, 2011. The Human Rights Watch report is entitled "Just Don't Call It a Militia.", September 12, 2011. [Back]

51. For an analysis of the DDR program, see Christian Dennys. Disarmament, Demobilization and Rearmament?, June 6, 2005, [Back]

52. Kraul, Chris. "U.S. Aid Effort Wins Over Skeptics in Afghanistan." Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003. [Back]

53. Its mandate was extended until October 13, 2006, by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1623 (September 13, 2005); and until October 13, 2007, by Resolution 1707 (September 12, 2006). [Back]

54. This issue is discussed in substantial detail in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman. [Back]

55. The concept that this stipulations could be an "outcome" of negotiations was advanced by Secretary of State Clinton at the first annual Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Address. February 18, 2011. [Back]

56. Afghanistan National Security Council. "Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program." April 2010. [Back]

57. United Nations. Report of the Secretary General: "The Situation in Afghanistan and Its Implications for International Peace and Security." March 9, 2011. [Back]

58. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010 (P.L. 111-84) authorized the use of CERP funds to win local support, to "reintegrate" Taliban fighters. [Back]

59. Author conversations with Afghan officials and U.S. experts. 2012-13. [Back]

60. Azam Ahmed and Matthew Rosenberg. "Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts with the Taliban." New York Times, February 4, 2014. [Back]

61. "Afghan Officials Meet Key Taliban Figure in Pakistan.", August 12, 2012. [Back]

62. Participating were Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, and Uzbekistan. [Back]

63. Richard Giasy and Maihan Saeedi. "The Heart of Asia Process at a Juncture: An Analysis of Impediments to Further Progress." Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, June 2014. [Back]

64. Partlow, Joshua. "Afghans Build Up Ties With Pakistan." Washington Post, July 21, 2010. [Back]

65. Among those captured by Pakistan are top bin Laden aide Abu Zubaydah (captured April 2002); alleged September 11 plotter Ramzi bin Al Shibh (September 11, 2002); top Al Qaeda planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (March 2003); and a top planner, Abu Faraj al-Libbi (May 2005). [Back]

66. Comments by President Karzai at the Brookings Institution. May 5, 2009. [Back]

67. Steele, Jonathon. "America Includes Iran in Talks on Ending War in Afghanistan." Washington Times, December 15, 1997. [Back]

68. Rashid, Ahmed. "Afghan Neighbors Show Signs of Aiding in Nation's Stability." Wall Street Journal, October 18,2004. [Back]

69. Treasury Department. Fact Sheet: U.S. Treasury Department Targets Iran's Support for Terrorism. August 3, 2010. [Back]

70. Maria Abi-Habib. "Iranians Build Up Afghan Clout. Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2012; Afghan Taliban Reportedly Sends Delegation to Iran for Talks., June 3, 2013. [Back]

71. King, Laura. "In Western Afghan City, Iran Makes Itself Felt." Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2010. [Back]

72. Hamid Shalzi. "Afghanistan's Karzai Seeks Indian Military Aid Amid Tensions with Pakistan." Reuters, May 19, 2013. [Back]

73. "Hamid Karzai Heads to India Waving Wish List of Military Hardware.", December 11, 2013. [Back]

74. Risen, James. "Russians Are Back in Afghanistan, Aiding Rebels." New York Times, July 27, 1998. [Back]

75. The IMU was named a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in September 2000. [Back]

76. For more information, see CRS Report RL33001, U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy, by Shirley A. Kan. [Back]

77. CRS conversations with Chinese officials in Beijing. August 2007. [Back]

78. The report, produced by the National Security Staff, was released December 2, 2011. It was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011 (Section 1535 of P.L. 111-383). [Back]

79. David Zucchino. "Watchdog Faults U.S. Military's Oversight of Aid to Afghanistan." Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2013. [Back]

80. Matthew Rosenberg and Azam Ahmed. "Report Says Afghanistan Can't be Trusted to Prevent Misuse of U.S. Aid." New York Times, January 30, 2014. [Back]

81. [Back]

82. Rod Nordland. "Aid Group Sees Daunting Obstacles to Health Care for Afghans." New York Times, February 26, 2014. [Back]

83. Kevin Seiff. "A Crumbling Investment." Washington Post, January 31, 2014. [Back]

84. Michael Phillips. "Afghan Dam Saga Reflects U.S. Travails." Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2012. [Back]

85. Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach. "New Hope for Afghan Raisin Farmers." New York Times, October 9, 2010. [Back]

86. Risen, James. "U.S. Identifies Mineral Riches in Afghanistan." New York Times, June 14, 2010. [Back]

87. Other participants in the Unocal consortium include Delta of Saudi Arabia, Hyundai of South Korea, Crescent Steel of Pakistan, Itochu Corporation and INPEX of Japan, and the government of Turkmenistan. Some accounts say Russia's Gazprom would probably receive a stake in the project. Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Moscow), October 30, 1997, p. 3. [Back]

88. "Operational Accord on Tapi Gas Pipeline Signed.", July 18, 2014. [Back]

89. Saleem, Farrukh. "Where Are the Missing Stinger Missiles? Pakistan," Friday Times. August 17-23, 2001. [Back]

90. "U.S.-Made Stinger Missiles--Mobile and Lethal." Reuters, May 28, 1999. [Back]

91. Fullerton, John. "Afghan Authorities Hand in Stinger Missiles to U.S." Reuters, February 4, 2002. [Back]

92. "Afghanistan Report," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. February 4, 2005. [Back]

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