Three Decades of War
The Australian 5th April 2014
- 1979-89 Soviet Occupation — In December 1979, Moscow invades poor, mountainous Afghanistan to prop up a communist regime. The Afghan mujaheddin resistance, backed by the West, fights the Soviet army for a decade until it withdraws in February 1989.
- 1992-96 Civil War — The fall of the communist government of president Mohammed Najibullah in 1992 unleashes a bloody power struggle that kills nearly 100,000 people in two years. From 1994, the fundamentalist Taliban, supported by Pakistan, begins to emerge in the south.
- 1996-2001 Taliban rule — The Islamists take power in Kabul and install a regime based on a hardline interpretation of Islamic law, banning women from working and introducing stoning as a punishment. The Taliban, led by Mullah Omar, become close to al-Qa'ida and shelter its leader Osama bin Laden.
- 2001 Western Intervention — After the September 11 attacks, the US leads an invasion that topples the Taliban but fails at the time to find bin Laden. Hamid Karzai leads an interim government. Up to 150,000 soldiers are eventually deployed to help secure the country against the Taliban, who carry on a bloody insurgency.
- 2004 First presidential election — Karzai wins 55% of votes with an enthusiastic turnout of 70% in Afghanistan's first presidential election with universal suffrage.
- 2009 Karzai re-elected — Karzai wins another term in a contested poll marred by massive fraud, a turnout of only 30-33% and Taliban violence.
- 2014 End of Karzai era — Afghanistan holds its third presidential election and its first democratic transfer of power amid resurgent Taliban violence and the withdrawal of NATO combat forces