Afghanistan -- America’s longest war
August 17, 2021 - America’s longest war is nearing its end, with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington marked with the Taliban back in power.
The worst attack against the United States since Pearl Harbor came from an enemy operating with the permission and under the protection of the same Taliban that has swept across Afghanistan today.
Sunday (August 15) saw the Western-backed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani flee to Uzbekistan as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul. But the roots of the conflict stretch back at least four decades.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter initiated a covert programme through the CIA to financially support Afghan rebels. The mujahideen were waging a guerrilla war against the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in December 1979.
With the help of Britain and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), Operation Cyclone poured more than $20 billion of U.S. funds into the country. Afghan resistance groups -- including radical Islamist factions such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda -- were trained and armed.
A decade after the Soviet invasion, the militants turned against the West, triggering the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
NATO took command of an international coalition in 2003. In 2015, the mission, known as ISAF, was replaced by the current training operation, Resolute Support.
NATO’s troop presence peaked in 2011, with 140,000 foreign troops from 51 countries in Afghanistan.
Since 2001 the coalition has suffered over 3,500 fatalities. The U.S. has spent more than $140 billion in aid plus $820 billion for U.S. combat operations and support for Afghan forces.