AFGHANISTAN: BACKGROUND AND U.S. POLICY ( in brief )
Afghanistan emerged as a significant U.S. foreign policy concern in 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban government that harbored and supported it. in the intervening 19 years, the United States has suffered over 22,000 military casualties in Afghanistan and congress has appropriated approximately $144 billion for reconstruction and security forces there. In that time, an elected Afghan government has replaced the Taliban; improvement in most measures of human development is limited; and future prospects of gains remain mixed.
The United States and its international partners are removing their military forces from Afghanistan as part of a withdrawal announced by President Biden on April 14, 2021, heralding a possible end to the nearly two-decade U.S. military presence in the country. In a February 2020 agreement with the Taliban, the Trump Administration preventing other groups, including Al Qaeda, from using Afghan soil to recruit, train, or fundraise toward activities that threaten the United States or its allies.
This report provides background information and analysis on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, with a focus on the ongoing U.S. military withdrawal and its implications for a number of factors, including :
- security dynamics and the ongoing conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
- the social and political gains made in Afghanistan since 2001; and
- intra- Afghan negotiations, which began in Doha, Qatar, in September 2020, but appear tp have since stalled.
The report also provides information on question about the future of U.S. development and security aid to Afghanistan.
BACKGROUND : U.S.- TALIBAN AGREEMENT
After more than a year of negotiations, U.S. and Taliban representatives signed a bilateral agreement on February 29, 2020, agreeing to two “interconnected” guarantees : the withdrawal of all U.S. and international forces by May 2021, and unspecific Taliban action to prevent other groups from using Afghan soil to threaten the United States and its allies.
In the months after the agreement, several U.S. officials asserted that the Taliban were not fulfilling their commitments under the accord, especially with the regard to Al Qaeda. U.S. officials also described increased Taliban violence as “not consistent” with agreement. Although no provisions in the publicly available agreement address Taliban attacks on U.S. forces in non- public annexes accompanying the accord. Some lawmakers have raised questions about the executive branch’s decision to classify these annexes.