Updated: Apr 19, 2022
The Afghanistan conflicts is a continuous series of wars fought in Afghanistan from 1978 through to the present day.
Previously, the Kingdom of Afghanistan was overthrown in the relatively bloodless 1973 Afghan coup d'état, which brought the monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah’s 39-year reign to an end, and ended Afghanistan’s relatively peaceful period in modern history. Starting with the Saur Revolution military coup, an almost continuous series of armed conflicts has dominated and afflicted Afghanistan, including a Soviet invasion, a series of civil wars between mujahideen groups (notably the Taliban), a NATO invasion, a Taliban insurgency, and fighting between the Taliban and the local branch of the Islamic State. The conflict includes:
The Saur Revolution of 1978, which happened when the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the government of the Republic of Afghanistan, which was headed by president Mohammed Daoud Khan. It then established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, a Communist state which allied itself with the Soviet Union;
The Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) started when the Soviet Army intervened in the country in order to support the ruling PDPA following large-scale rebellions against the government. Soviet troops along with the allied Afghan Army fought against rebel factions which were mostly collectively known as the "Afghan mujahideen", who were backed by countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Egypt and West Germany. The war ended with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989;
The Afghan Civil War (1989–1992) was the continuing war between the government and the mujahideen, but without the involvement of Soviet troops. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union continued to financially support the Afghan government in its fight, and likewise, mujahideen factions continued to receive support from the United States and Pakistan. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan survived until the fall of Kabul in 1992, after which the mujahideen established the Islamic State of Afghanistan;
The Afghan Civil War (1992–1996) began when various mujahideen groups withdrew support from and began fighting against the Islamic State, including Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, later largely replaced by the Taliban and al-Qaeda (all of whom were supported by Pakistan), Hezb-i Wahdat (who were supported by Iran), and Junbish-i Milli (who were supported by Uzbekistan). Mujahideen loyal to the Islamic State were supported by Saudi Arabia. This phase of the war ended when the Taliban captured Kabul and established the partially recognised Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan;
The Afghan Civil War (1996–2001) was the continuation of the previous phase of the war, between militias loyal to the rival Islamic State and Islamic Emirate. Islamic State loyalists reorganised into the Northern Alliance, including Hezb-i Wahdat and Junbish-i Milli, who previously opposed the Islamic State. During the civil war, Al-Qaeda began committing terrorist attacks against the United States, culminating in the September 11 attacks, after which the Islamic Emirate lost almost all international support and diplomatic recognition;
The War in Afghanistan (2001–2021) began with the NATO invasion of Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, seeking to remove the Taliban from power as they were hosting al-Qaeda militants. After the invasion overthrew the Taliban and established the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the war turned into a protracted insurgency, with Afghan National Army and NATO troops fighting the re-organised Taliban and sporadically other groups such as al-Qaeda, Haqqani network, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin and ISIS-K. After the withdrawal of NATO forces and the 2021 Taliban offensive, the Islamic Republic fell to the Taliban and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was re-established.
The Islamic State–Taliban conflict began in 2015, during the post-2001 war, as Taliban dissident groups organised into the Islamic State – Khorasan Province, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (not to be confused with the former Islamic State of Afghanistan). The group attacked the Taliban as well as NATO troops, but it targeted mainly civilians. The insurgency continues to the present day.
The Panjshir conflict started in 2021 when the remaining forces loyal to the Islamic Republic reorganised into the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan in the Panjshir Valley. Despite having international recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front received no foreign support. Taliban forces captured the valley on 6 September 2021, and leaders of the resistance fled to Tajikistan on 18 September. Fighting still continues between Taliban fighters and the small, scattered holdouts of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan in Panjshir and Baghlan.
By 2014, it had been estimated that 1,405,111 to 2,084,468 lives were lost over the duration of the conflict
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