After the September 11th attack on the United States, President George W. Bush issued an ultimatum to the rulers of Afghanistan. He demanded they hand over to the terrorists responsible for the attack. Afghanistan’s Taliban – Islamic fundamentalists ruling the area – refused to surrender terrorist leader Osama bin-Laden. As a result, within a month of the assault on the US, air-strikes commenced.
The goal of the United States was to extricate the Taliban from power, locate Osama bin-Laden and destroy his organization known as Al-Qaeda. The US received additional support from British forces, other soldiers and Afghans who opposed the Taliban.
The Taliban Fleas Kabul
In November of 2001, Taliban forces left the capital city of Kabul and fled to the mountainous area on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, the United States was able to assist Afghanistan in installing a new government with Hamid Karzai as President.
The Taliban slowly gained strength and forces found it difficult to fight them given the remote caves and mountainous regions they inhabited. Many felt their efforts were futile. As a result, in December of 2009 President Obama unveiled a new strategy – rapidly deploy 30,000 additional troops in an effort to break the momentum of the Taliban.
Progress was slow and additional obstacles remained. The support of the Afghan government was being slowly eroded by fraudulent accusations against the followers of the re-elected President Karzai. In addition, efforts to uproot the Taliban appeared futile. However, in May of 2011, after the assassination of Osama bin-Laden by US Navy SEAL Team 6, President Obama announced his intentions to hasten the withdrawal of American troops.
Pressure Mounts to Withdraw US Troops
Pressure to pull US troops out of Afghanistan mounted as the result of three separate incidents in early 2012. The Afghans first became enraged with the discovery of a video tape showing four US Marines urinating on Taliban insurgent corpses. Next, it was discovered that copies of the Koran, the central religious text of Islam, had been burned in a trash incinerator on a US base. Despite a spokesperson declaring it an accident, the incident sparked violent riots, leaving 30 people dead. Among the dead were two American officers.
The third incident involved a US soldier who reportedly went from house to house murdering 16 Afghans and burning some of the bodies – many of whom were women and children. As a result, President Karzai ordered the US troops to withdraw from Afghan villages and return to military bases.
Final Plans for Withdrawal
A number of Americans are in favor of the President hastening the withdrawal of US troops. Currently, military and political leaders are against any changes being made to the schedule, which targets December, 2014 for the last of the current 90,000 US troops to leave Afghanistan, a date which will mark the end of the US involvement in the war in Afghanistan.