Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in increased democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-communist mujahidin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama BIN LADIN.
A UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and was reelected in August 2009. The Taliban conducted an insurgency for two decades against the Afghan Government and international forces from the United States and other countries. In February 2020, the US and the Taliban signed an agreement that led to the withdrawal from Afghanistan of international forces in exchange for commitments on counterterrorism and other assurances. The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021.
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NOTE: The information regarding Afghanistan on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Afghanistan 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Afghanistan 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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