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  1. Afghanistan Main Page
  2. Soviet Invasion
  3. The Rise of the Taliban
  4. The U.S. Responds to the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks
  5. Reemergence of the Taliban
  6. Taliban Attacks Become More Deadly
  7. Afghanistan Holds Second Direct Presidential Elections
  8. Support for the War on the Wane
  9. Osama bin Laden Is Killed
  10. Violence and Assassinations Diminish Confidence in Afghanistan's Security Forces
  11. U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates
  12. Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
  13. Presidential Election Marred by Allegations of Fraud; Unity Government Formed
  14. Taliban Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With U.S.; U.S. General Killed
  15. U.S. and NATO End Combat Operation in Afghanistan
  16. President Ghani Announces Cabinet Months After Taking Office; Visit With Obama Results in Additional U.S. Support
  17. Taliban Founder Reportedly Dead
  18. Taliban Captures Kunduz, Doctors Without Borders Hospital Hit in Airstrike
Violence and Assassinations Diminish Confidence in Afghanistan's Security Forces

In June 2011, President Obama announced that the U.S. had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan and that time had come to start withdrawing troops and begin "to focus on nation-building here at home." He said about 10,000 of the 30,000 troops deployed in 2009 as part of the surge will leave the country by the end of 2011 and the remaining 20,000 will be out by the summer of 2012. The remaining U.S. troops—some 70,000—will be gradually withdrawn through the end of 2014, when security will be transferred to Afghan authorities. Some military officials expressed concern that the drawdown would compromise advances made against the Taliban.

President Karzai's half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, arguably the most powerful—and feared— man in southern Afghanistan, was assassinated by his security chief in July. Karzai served as provincial council chief in Kandahar, a strategically important city in the south, and was a figurehead of the Pashtun tribe. Despite widespread allegations of corruption and accusations that he ran a heroin ring, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) worked closely with Karzai, relying on his status as a feared power broker to help bring stability to the volatile region by uniting several tribes with the common goal of defeating the Taliban.

On Aug. 6, 2011, the Taliban shot down a transport helicopter, killing 30 American troops, seven Afghans, and a translator. It was the highest death toll in a single day for U.S. troops. Twenty-two elite Navy SEALs were killed, some members of the unit that killed Osama bin Laden. In September, members of the Haqqani network, a group allied with the Taliban, launched a brazen attack in Kabul, firing on the U.S. embassy, the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, and other diplomatic outposts. Nearly 30 people were killed, including 11 militants. The U.S. later accused Pakistan's spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, of helping the Haqqani network plan the attack. In fact, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ISI "acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency."

The peace process in Afghanistan was dealt another blow in late September when Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated in Kabul. A Tajik, Rabbani joined the fight against the Soviets, becoming leader of one of the five major factions of the mujahideen. After the fall of the communist regime in 1992, Rabbani became president of the interim government that lasted until 1996, when it was overthrown by the Taliban. Recently he was the chief negotiator in peace talks between the government and insurgents. He was considered one of the few politicians who could bring the Taliban and former members of the Northern Alliance to the bargaining table.

Next: U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates
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