News | Sept. 1, 2015

Annex B | Afghanistan Timeline

By NDU Press Lessons Encountered


Pre-Soviet Intervention (1838–1978)

1838–1842 British forces invade and install Shah Shuja Durrani on the throne. He is assassinated in 1842. A major part of the British occupation forces are later destroyed near Gandamak during retreat toward Jalalabad. British triumph in subsequent fighting, but it is a pyrrhic victory. They leave altogether in the fall of 1842, allowing the deposed Dost Mohammed Barakzai to retake throne.
1878–1881 Second Anglo-Afghan War. As a result of this war, treaty is signed that grants Great Britain control of Afghan foreign affairs.
1919 Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from London. Third Anglo-Afghan War begins.
1926–1929 Amanullah attempts to modernize Afghanistan, introducing several social reforms. Effort backfires and results in civil unrest. Amanullah flees.
1933 Mohammed Zahir Shah made king and Afghan monarchy holds for next four decades.
1953 General Mohammad Daud Khan named prime minister. His administration is remembered for his dependence on Soviet economic and military assistance and for Helmand Valley project, which greatly improved quality of life in southwestern Afghanistan.
1963 Mohammed Daud resigns as prime minister after border dispute with Pakistan.
1964 Constitutional monarchy is introduced and ratified by Zahir Shah in October, sparking political polarization and power struggles.
1973 Mohammed Daud returns to become president after seizing power in bloodless coup from his cousin, Zahir Shah. President Daud later distances himself from Soviet Union and seeks closer ties with West, as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt.
1978 Daud is deposed. He and his family are killed in a pro-Soviet coup. The People’s Democratic Party comes to power, but is stymied by internal disputes and revolt by mujahideen groups.

Soviet Intervention (1979–1988)

1979 December Soviet army launches invasion to bolster communist Afghan government.
1980 Babrak Karmal named ruler, supported by Soviet troops. Various mujahideen groups increase opposition to Soviet forces and fighting intensifies. The United States, Pakistan, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia provide economic and military aid to mujahideen.
1985 Mujahideen groups form alliance against Soviet forces. Experts estimate that half of Afghanistan’s population is now displaced by war, with many seeking refuge in Iran or Pakistan.
1986 The United States provides mujahideen with Stinger missiles, allowing them to shoot down Soviet aircraft. Mohammad Najibullah named as new head of Soviet-backed regime, replacing Babrak Karmal.
1988 Afghanistan, Soviet Union, the United States, and Pakistan sign peace accords, and Soviets initiate troop withdrawal.

Red Army Retreats (1989–2001)

1989 Last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan. Civil war continues as mujahideen work to overthrow Najibullah and the pro-Soviet regime.
1992 Najibullah’s government falls, and destructive civil war follows.
1996 Taliban fighters take Kabul and institute a brutal rule, barring women from work outside the home and implementing Islamic punishments that include public stoning, amputation, and execution.
1997 Pakistan and Saudi Arabia recognize the Taliban regime as legitimate. Taliban fighters now control approximately two-thirds of country.
1998 U.S. launches missile strikes against suspected training bases of militant Osama bin Laden, the suspected leader of al Qaeda. Bin Laden is thought to have planned and financed the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Africa.
1999 United Nations (UN) Security Council adopts Resolution 1267, implementing financial sanctions against the Taliban. The group’s funding, travel, and arms shipments are restricted in an effort to get the country to hand over bin Laden for trial.
2000 October 12 USS Cole is attacked by suicide bombers while anchored near port of Aden in Yemen. The attack is later attributed to bin Laden.
2001 September 9 Ahmad Shah Masood, leader of the main opposition to the Taliban—the Northern Alliance—is killed in suicide attack by two al Qaeda operatives posing as news reporters.

U.S.-Led Invasion (2001–2003)

2001 September 11 Al Qaeda operatives hijack four commercial airliners, crashing two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Close to 3,000 people die in the attacks.
2001 September 17 Pakistani government officials in Kandahar request the surrender of bin Laden. Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, refuses.
2001 September 18 Congress passes a joint resolution authorizing use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States on 9/11.
2001 October 7 The United States and Great Britain begin bombing al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Training bases in Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Farah, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad are first to be targeted.
2001 November Taliban regime is rapidly defeated after its loss at Mazar-e-Sharif to forces loyal to ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum. Over the next week, Taliban strongholds are overtaken after coalition and Northern Alliance offensives on Taloqan (11 November), Bamiyan (11 November), Herat (12 November), Kabul (13 November), and Jalalabad (14 November).
2001 November 14 UN Security Council passes Resolution 1378, which calls for a “central role” for the UN in establishing an interim government.
2001 December 5 Afghan factions agree to a deal in Bonn, Germany, for interim government.
2001 December 9 Taliban abandons Kandahar, which is generally seen as the end of the Taliban regime.
2001 December 3–17 Bin Laden is tracked to Tora Bora cave complex southeast of Kabul. Afghan militias engage in a fierce 2-week battle with militants. Bin Laden is thought to have left for Pakistan on 16 December.
2001 December 20 UN Security Council establishes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with Resolution 1386.
2001 December 22 The Afghan Interim Authority—composed of 30 members and headed by a chairman—is inaugurated with a 6-month mandate followed by a 2-year Transitional Authority, after which elections are held. Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of the interim government.
2002 January First deployment of ISAF in the Kabul region.
2002 January 11 First group of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
2002 March Operation Anaconda begins as troops move into the Shah-i-Kot Valley in Paktia Province.
2002 April 17 President George W. Bush calls for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Congress appropriates over $38 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009.
2002 April Former King Zahir Shah returns, but makes no claim to the throne. He dies in 2007.
2002 June 19 The Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Karzai as head of interim government. Karzai appoints members of his administration, which is given a mandate to serve until 2004.
2002 November The United States creates a civil affairs framework to coordinate reconstruction with UN and nongovernmental organizations with hopes of expanding the authority of the Kabul government. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are stood up first in Gardez and followed by teams in Bamiyan, Kunduz, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat.
2003 March 20 The United States invades Iraq. This signals a pivot in American foreign policy away from Afghanistan toward the war in Iraq.

Elections and Return to Violence (2004–2008)

2004 January 4 Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga approves a new constitution that creates a strong presidential system intended to unite the country’s various ethnic groups.
2004 October 9 Presidential elections are held, and Karzai is declared winner after getting 55 percent of the vote. His closest rival, former education minister Younis Qanooni, receives only 16 percent.
2004 December 7 Karzai is officially sworn in as president of Afghanistan and begins a 5-year term in power.
2005 May 23 President Bush and Karzai announce the signing of a military agreement to give American forces full use of Afghan military facilities to prosecute the war against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. The agreement also solidifies the strategic partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.
2005 September 18 More than 6 million Afghans vote in first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years. Nearly half of all Afghans casting ballots are women, and 68 out of 249 seats are set aside for female members of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament. In the upper house, 23 out of 102 seats are reserved for women, establishing this election as the most democratic in the history of Afghanistan.
2005 December Newly elected Parliament opens.
2006 July Intense fighting erupts in southern Afghanistan during summer months. Number of suicide attacks quintuples and remotely detonated bombings more than double.
2006 October After expansions in September 2005 and July 2006, NATO takes command in the east from a U.S.-led coalition force, and assumes complete responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan.
2006 November At a summit in Riga, friction emerges between NATO member states over troop commitments to Afghanistan. Eventually, leaders agree to remove some national restrictions on when, where, and how Alliance troops may be used.
2007 May Mullah Dadullah, an important Taliban military commander, is killed during a joint operation by Afghan, U.S., and NATO troops in southern Afghanistan.
2007 August UN reports that opium production is at a record high.
2008 June Karzai warns that Afghanistan will deploy troops into Pakistan to combat Taliban militants if Islamabad fails to take action against them.
2008 July 7 Taliban launch a devastating suicide bomb attack against the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing more than 50.
2008 September President Bush deploys an additional 4,500 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, in a move he calls a “quiet Surge.”
2009 January In testimony to Congress, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes Afghanistan as the Obama administration’s “greatest test.”
2009 February NATO countries pledge increased military commitments in Afghanistan.

New American Strategy (2009–2012)

2009 March 27 President Barack Obama announces an updated strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. An additional 21,000 U.S. Government personnel will train and assist Afghan security forces, and there will be increased support for civilian development.
2009 April Responding to calls from U.S. military officials, NATO members agree to send an additional 5,000 troops to train troops and police.
2009 May 11 General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA, is named new U.S. and ISAF commander after the exit of General David McKiernan.
2009 July Marines launch major offensive in southern Afghanistan involving 4,000 troops in Helmand Province.
2009 July 2 McChrystal issues a revised tactical directive that provides guidance and intent for employment of force, including tighter controls over U.S. airstrikes.
2009 August 10 McChrystal and Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry release an Integrated Civilian-Military Campaign Plan for Support to Afghanistan, charting out the strategy to promote a more capable Afghan government and security force.
2009 August 20 Presidential and provincial elections are tainted by widespread Taliban attacks, spotty turnout, and claims of fraud.
2009 October 20 Karzai declared winner of August presidential election, after second-placed opponent Abdullah Abdullah pulls out before the runoff takes place.
2009 December 1 President Obama announces a decision to surge 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan. He also states that the United States will begin withdrawing its forces by July 2011. NATO forces, around the same time, surge to 40,000.
2009 December An al Qaeda double agent kills seven Central Intelligence Agency officials in suicide attack on a U.S. base in Khost.
2010 February NATO-led forces launch Operation Moshtarak in an effort to establish government control of southern Helmand Province.
2010 June 23 McChrystal is replaced by General David Patraeus, USA, who officially takes command of U.S. and ISAF forces in July 2010.
2010 July Whistleblowing Web site WikiLeaks releases thousands of stolen classified U.S. military documents covering military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
2010 August Karzai accuses private security firms of operating with impunity and orders that they cease all operations. He later relaxes the decree.
2010 September 18 Parliamentary elections are tainted by Taliban violence and accusations of fraud, which delay the final results until 31 October.
2010 November At a summit in Lisbon, NATO leaders agree to transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
2011 January Karzai completes the first official state visit to Russia by an Afghan leader since 1989.
2011 February Afghanistan Rights Monitor reports that number of civilians killed since the 2001 invasion hit unprecedented levels. In 2010, at least 2,421 civilian Afghans were killed and over 3,270 were injured in conflict-related security incidents across Afghanistan.
2011 April U.S.-based pastor burns a copy of the Koran and prompts nationwide protests in Afghanistan. UN workers and several Afghans are killed.
2011 April Approximately 500 prisoners, including many former Taliban fighters, break out of prison in Kandahar.
2011 May 1 Bin Laden killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
2011 June 22 President Obama orders troop reductions of 33,000 by summer 2012, including 10,000 by the end of 2011.
2011 July Karzai’s half-brother and Kandahar governor Ahmed Wali Karzai is killed by an associate.
2011 September Ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani—a key negotiator in talks with the Taliban—is assassinated.
2011 October As relations with Pakistan deteriorate after a number of attacks, Afghanistan and India complete a strategic agreement to increase security and development cooperation.
2011 November Karzai secures the permission of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military agreement with the United States. The proposed deal permits U.S. troops to stay in the country beyond 2014.
2011 December At least 58 people are killed in attacks at a Shiite religious site in Kabul and Shiite mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif.
2011 December 5 Pakistan and the Taliban refuse to attend the scheduled Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. Pakistan boycotts the event in response to a NATO airstrike that killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.
2012 January Taliban agrees to open an office in Dubai in preparation for peace talks with the U.S. and Afghan governments.
2012 February At least 30 people killed in protests about alleged destruction of copies of the Koran at the U.S. airbase in Bagram. Two soldiers are also killed in retaliatory attacks.
2012 March Taliban suspend talks and accuse Washington of not fulfilling promises to take steps toward a prisoner swap. Sergeant Robert Bales, USA, murders 16 Afghan civilians during an unprovoked shooting spree in the Panjwai district of Kandahar.
2012 April Taliban initiate their “spring offensive” with a bold attack on diplomatic quarter of Kabul. The government attributes attacks to the Haqqani Network. Afghan and NATO security forces kill 38 militants.

NATO Withdrawal Plan (2012–2014)

2012 May NATO summit outlines plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by end of 2014. France decides to withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012, a year earlier than scheduled.
2012 July Donor countries pledge $16 billion in civilian aid to Afghanistan through 2016. The United States, Japan, Germany, and United Kingdom supply bulk of funds. Afghanistan acquiesces to new measures aimed at countering government corruption.
2012 August U.S. military disciplines six Soldiers for destroying copies of the Koran and other religious texts in Afghanistan. They do not face criminal prosecution. Three Marines are also disciplined for a video in which the bodies of dead Taliban fighters were desecrated.
2012 September The United States hands over Bagram high-security detention facility to the Afghan government, but retains custody over some foreign prisoners until March 2013.
2012 September The United States temporarily halts training new police recruits to conduct background checks for possible ties to the Taliban following a series of “insider” attacks on foreign troops.
2013 February Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari reach an agreement to work toward an Afghan peace deal within 6 months. They support the opening of an Afghan office for negotiation in Doha and urge the Taliban to do the same.
2013 March Two former Kabul Bank officials, Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, are arrested for multimillion dollar fraud that nearly caused the collapse of the entire Afghan banking system in 2010.
2013 June Afghan security forces assume responsibility for all military and security operations from NATO forces on the same day officials announce that the Taliban and the United States will resume negotiations.
2013 June Karzai halts security talks with the United States because of the announcement of possible peace talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan vows to conduct independent talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
2014 January Taliban suicide attack strikes a restaurant in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, constituting the worst attack on foreign civilians since 2001. Among the 13 victims is the country director for the International Monetary Fund.
2014 February Start of presidential election campaign, marked by a rise in attacks by the Taliban.
2014 April Presidential election results are inconclusive, and the election goes to a second round between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, both candidates in the 2009 presidential elections.
2014 June Second round of voting in the presidential election begins. More than 50 Afghans are reported killed throughout the country in various incidents during voting.
2014 July Election officials initiate a recount of all votes cast in June’s presidential runoff, following U.S.-mediated deal to end the political impasse between candidates.
2014 August Despite U.S. mediation efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry, Ghani and Abdullah continue to dispute election results.
2014 September Ghani and Abdullah sign a power-sharing agreement, ending 2-month audit of disputed election results. Ghani is declared president.
2014 October The United States and United Kingdom formally end combat operations in Helmand Province. Opium poppy cultivation reaches record levels, according to U.S. experts.
2014 December NATO concludes its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan. Despite the official end to ISAF’s combat role, violence continues across much of the country.
2015 January NATO-led follow-on mission Resolute Support begins. Approximately 12,000 personnel provide training and support to Afghan security forces.
2015 March President Obama delays American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, following an appeal from President Ghani.
2015 May Taliban representatives and Afghan officials meet in Qatar for informal peace talks. Both sides agree to continue the process at a later date, though the Taliban refuse to halt fighting until all foreign troops leave the country.

: “Afghanistan Profile—Timeline,” BBC News, May 7, 2015, available at <>; “Timeline: Major Events in the Afghanistan War,” New York Times, June 22, 2011, available at <>; “U.S. War in Afghanistan: 1999–Present,” Council on Foreign Relations, n.d., available at <>; “The War in Afghanistan: A Timeline,” CBS News, available at <>; Ludwig W. Adamec, Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012).