September 9th, 2004
Hell of a Nation
Fast Facts: Building a Democracy
1839-1842 First Anglo-Afghan War. The British are not able to capture Afghanistan.
1878 Second Anglo-Afghan War. The British invade and again the Afghans repel British forces.
1919 Third and final Anglo-Afghan War. Afghanistan thwarts one final attempt by Britain to bring Afghanistan under British rule.
1933 Zahir Shar is named king and Afghanistan becomes a monarchy.
1953 1953 General Mohammed Daud Khan becomes prime minister and turns to the Soviet Union for economic and military support. He helps institute greater freedoms for women.
1963 Mohammed Daud Khan is forced to resign as prime minister.
1964 A constitutional monarchy is introduced but it leads to power struggles.
1973 King Zahir Shah is overthrown in a military coup headed by his cousin, former Prime Minister Mohammed Daud Khan, he abolishes the monarchy and declares himself president of the newly formed Republic of Afghanistan.
1978 Daud is killed in a revolution headed by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). Nur Mohammad Taraki is named president. Rebels unite in opposition to the regime and call themselves the mujahedin (literally “strugglers”).
1979 Taraki’s deputy, Hafizullah Amin, kills Taraki and then claims the presidency until he too is executed three months later. Babrak Karmal replaces Amin. The Soviet Union invades in December claiming to stabilize this new government.
1985 Mujahedin fighters form an alliance against Soviet forces, bloody confrontations rage across the country. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev promises to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. It is estimated that half of the Afghan population is now displaced by war.
1986 CIA director Bill Casey gives eight billion dollars to train and arm mujahedin recruits against the Soviets. One such recruit is Osama bin Laden. Babrak Karmal is replaced by Major General Mohammad Najibullah.
1988-1989 Thanks to peace accords signed by Afghanistan, the Soviet Union, the U.S., and Pakistan, Gorbachev announces a 10-month phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which is completed on February 15, 1989. Civil war persists, however, as the mujahedin continue attempting to overthrow Najibullah.
1990 The United States and the Soviet Union agree that President Najibullah will remain in power until internationally regulated elections can be held. Najibullah introduces a multi-party system and refugees begin to return home.
1992 The mujahedin take Kabul and Professor Burhannuddin Rabbani is declared transitional president of the newly formed Islamic State of Afghanistan. Dissent between mujahedin leaders brews during this period of transition.
1994 The Taliban is formed to fight Rabbani’s mujahedin government. Fighting kills approximately 7,000, injures about 100,000, and renders more than half a million people homeless.
1996 Osama bin Laden returns to Afghanistan. Taliban militia capture Kabul, execute Najibullah, and oust Rabbani’s government. Strict Islamic law (Sharia) is enforced: all women must be fully veiled and are not allowed to work or go out alone, men are required to grow beards.
1998 An earthquake in northeastern Afghanistan causes massive damage, and leaves more than 4,000 people dead. Al-Qaeda forces are strongly suspected to be involved in attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; President Clinton orders U.S. forces to bomb Sudan and Afghanistan. The U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross withdraw all foreign staff.
1999 A damaging earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan. In response to U.N. imposed financial sanctions against Afghanistan for harboring Osama bin Laden the Taliban announce the terrorist’s disappearance.
2000 The Taliban are again sanctioned by the U.N. for protecting Osama bin Laden and for their continued support of terrorism.
2001 Terrorists attack the U.S. killing more than 3,000 people, destroying the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and part of the Pentagon in Washington. Bin Laden is implicated and praises the attacks but denies responsibility. The United States and supporters of the Northern Alliance — the main Taliban opposition force within Afghanistan — drive the Taliban from Kabul. The Bonn Agreement is ratified, creating the Afghanistan Interim Authority (AIA), which is in charge of governing the country until summer 2002. United States and British forces launch air strikes against Afghanistan in hope of rousting Osama bin Laden.
2002 As British and U.S. strikes continue, civilians flee Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai seeks financial assistance for the war-ravaged country as warlords fight each other — as well as the newborn provisional government — for control. Karzai survives an assassination attempt. In June an emergency loya jirga is called in accordance with the Bonn Agreement. The AIA is replaced by the Transitional Authority (TA), whose job it is to re-establish a functioning government in Afghanistan.
2003 The U.N. advises Afghan refugees not to return. NATO takes control of security in Kabul, marking the organization’s first operation outside of Europe in its history. Afghanistan re-emerges as the world’s leading source for opium and heroin with an estimated annual income of 25 billion dollars. A loya jirga convenes in Kabul to consider the proposed Afghan constitution. The U.S. initiates war with Iraq leading to the closing of U.N. offices and embassies in Afghanistan.
2004 In Berlin Germany, a two-day international conference on reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan begins. Sixty-five different countries attend the conference. In January the new Afghan constitution is ratified.

Source: Much of the information in this section is from the BBC News World Edition Web site.

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