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2010 Year in Review

Major World News Stories of 2010


The Taliban

The Taliban

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Afghanistan

Few Signs of Progress Lead to Protracted U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan continued its downward spiral in 2010. Popular support for the nine-year campaign waned in the U.S. as casualties mounted and the Afghan government and military showed few signs of being able to assume control of the country, never mind the Taliban strongholds. About six thousand American, Afghan, and British troops stormed the southern city of Marja in February in an attempt to destroy the Taliban haven. The attack, the largest since the beginning of the invasion, was an example of a new anti-insurgency strategy that would have allied and Afghan troops clear the area of militants and Afghan troops eventually assuming control with the continued support of allied forces. By May, the Taliban returned to Marja and resumed their fight against troops and residents. The failure in Marja forced the U.S. to rethink a similar effort in Kandahar. However, U.S. and Afghan troops launched an offensive in September to dislodge the Taliban from Kandahar.

The whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released 92,000 classified U.S. military documents in July 2010 that portrayed a much less optimistic picture of the war than has been reported by the U.S. government. The documents revealed that the insurgency has continued to increase in strength and resiliency while allied forces lacked many resources necessary for success in the war. The documents also reinforced the widely held perception that the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency, has been playing both sides in the war against the Taliban and militant groups, clandestinely supporting the insurgents in their fight against allied troops in Afghanistan while also cooperating with the U.S. WikiLeaks released about 250,000 diplomatic cables in November that highlighted the endemic corruption that has plagued Afghanistan. For example, Ahmed Zia Massoud, a former vice president, was found with $52 million in cash. The cables also reveal deep skepticism among world leaders about Karzai's leadership and describe him as increasingly unpredictable and unreliable.

Parliamentary elections were held in September 2010. Voter turnout was low, with about one-third of eligible voters casting ballots. As in previous elections, allegations of ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation were widespread. About 20% or 1.3 million of the votes were rejected as fraudulent.

Leading members of the Taliban, President Karzai, and his advisors met in October to negotiate an end to the 9-year war. The Taliban leaders, whose identities were kept secret in order to prevent rival Taliban leaders from harming or killing them, were led to the meetings from their safe havens in Pakistan by NATO troops. One of the Taliban leaders was believed to have been Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the group's second in command. However, it was revealed in November that the person posing as Mansour was an imposter who duped Karzai and NATO officials.

By the end of 2010, with Karzai's mercurial leadership and the Taliban's stubborn resistance, the Obama administration began to make clear that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, far longer than he had predicted in 2009, when he suggested combat troops would begin to be withdrawn in July 2011.

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