Timeline: 20 years of Afghanistan in a birds eye view


lot has happened in Afghanistan over the past few years. This summer, developments followed each other at a rapid pace, when the Taliban took control of one provincial city after another. On Sunday they took power in Afghanistan. That made the Taliban back, never really left.

We list the most important events of the past twenty years in Afghanistan.

September 11, 2001: WTC and Pentagon attack

In the 90s, after years of war, the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. The fundamentalist regime was very strict. For example, burkas became compulsory, girls were not allowed to go to school, and music was banned.

On September 11, 2001, aircraft flew into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Nearly 3000 people died. Subsequently, all international arrows were focused on Afghanistan. According to the Americans, the attack was prepared by terror group Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. That group was led by Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regime provided shelter to Al-Qaida at the time.

This happened on that day in September:

October 7, 2001: The American Invasion

The United States repeatedly asked the Taliban to deliver Bin Laden and his followers to them, but they did not respond to that. The reason for then President George W. Bush to move on to the invasion of Afghanistan. The United States, along with the British, immediately carried out air strikes on Taliban targets and al-Qaida training camps. It was the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Within a few weeks, the Americans managed to dispel the Taliban. On November 13, 2001, the terrorist group left Kabul. A little month later, on December 6, the city of Kandahar was also freed from the Taliban. Osama bin Laden, which the United States was looking for with man and power, managed to escape. There was a transitional government led by Hamid Karzai.

2002: Dutch to Afghanistan

NATO supported Member State United States on the basis of Article 5: an attack on one of the Member States is an attack on all Member States. At the end of 2001 NATO set up a security force, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The aim was to restore government authority and build a security device (military and police).

As a NATO country, the Netherlands also participated in that mission in Afghanistan. Military personnel went that way, but also F16s, other vehicles and equipment. Troops from other Western countries also left for Afghanistan, including Canada, France and Germany.

2004: Constitution and Elections

The purpose of the foreign powers in Afghanistan was also to introduce a democratic system. At the beginning of 2004, a new constitution aimed at a central government was adopted. On October 9, the first democratic presidential elections were held in years. Approximately 80 percent of the vote went to Karzai, who already led the transitional government. He started a five-year term.

The first parliamentary and local elections followed one year later. There were also seats for women, something unthinkable under the Taliban rule.

2006: Helping Dutch to Reconstruction

The Netherlands, along with other foreign troops, had been in Afghanistan for years to ensure safety and work on reconstruction. Dutch soldiers also trained the Afghan Army. In 2006, the mission started Task Force Uruzgan. The Dutch soldiers were stationed in Camp Holland near Tarin Kowt and at Camp Hadrian in Deh Rawod. That mission lasted until 2010.

Meanwhile, there was still a fight. Not everyone in Afghanistan accepted the presence of foreign powers. In confrontations, soldiers from all sorts of countries were killed, including Dutch.

2009-2011: More military, Bin Laden dead

The former President of the United States, Barack Obama, decided to send another 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan (also known as the surge) at the end of 2009. Among other things, they had to train the Afghan army. That was an important part of the plan to withdraw foreign troops: that was already discussed at the time.

Two years later, the Americans managed to kill Osama bin Laden. They finally found him in a house near Pakistans capital Islamabad. He was killed on the spot and received a sailors grave.

2020: Agreement and Peace Talks

In February 2020, the Taliban concluded an agreement with the United States on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, following several rounds of negotiations over several years. They met in Qatar. The agreement stated that the US and NATO would withdraw by May 1, 2021. The Taliban had to have violence against the US and their allies.also violence by Al-Qaida.

In September 2020, peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government began in Doha, Qatar. That was a historic moment: never before did the parties sit around the table. The talks had to put an end to nearly twenty years of war, but never started seriously. So a chord didnt come.

The following images were taken in the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government:

April-May 2021: Americans and NATO troops away

In mid-April NATO announced that all soldiers withdraw from Afghanistan. This involved about 3,000 U.S. and 7000 NATO soldiers, including Dutch ones, who were still there. Over the years, many military personnel had returned to their homeland. The violence has cost thousands of military and emergency workers and tens of thousands of civilians in 19 years.

The withdrawal began on May 1, the troops had to be gone before September 11. But the US retreat turned out to be faster, President Biden said early July.

May-August 2021: Advance of the Taliban

In the run-up to and during the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban took ground at lightning speed. In early August, everything went on an express train: the Taliban took one provincial city after another. Often without any kind of opposition. Many people fled to Kabul, which seemed to be the only safe haven at some point.

But not for long: on August 15, the Taliban reached the capital. That same day, many Afghans tried to flee, President Ghani left the country, and other countries began evacuating their citizens.

Afghanistan is again in the hands of the Taliban.