Breaking information from Afghanistan because the Taliban take management of the Kabul presidential palace
Taliban fighters hoist their flag in front of the house of the provincial governor of Ghazni in Ghazni, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. Gulabuddin Amiri / AP
After 20 years of US intervention, thousands of deaths and at least $ 1 trillion, the Taliban’s advance in the country was remarkably fast – here’s a look back at how the situation has evolved to its current state:
Less than a month after al-Qaida-related terrorists used the 11th attacks in Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
On December 7, 2001, with the fall of the city of Kandahar, the Taliban lost their last great fortress. Since then, throughout the US armed forces and through several US administrations, the Taliban have sought to gain ground in Afghanistan.
Most recently, in January 2017, the Taliban sent an open letter to the then newly elected US President Trump, asking him to withdraw the US armed forces from the country.
Between 2017 and 2019 there were attempts at peace talks between the US and the Taliban that never led to an agreement.
During a surprise trip to Afghanistan in November 2019 for a Thanksgiving visit with US troops, Trump announced the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban. In December of the same year, peace talks resumed in Doha, Qatar.
The US and Taliban signed a historic deal in February 2020 that launched the potential for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The “Agreement for Peace in Afghanistan” outlined a number of commitments by the US and the Taliban with regard to troop strength, counter-terrorism and intra-Afghan dialogue with the aim of achieving “a lasting and comprehensive ceasefire”.
In the month following the signing of the Trump administration’s peace agreement with the Taliban, the insurgent group stepped up its attacks on America’s Afghan allies to a higher than usual level, according to data made available to the Pentagon’s Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan .
In August 2020, Afghanistan’s grand assembly of elders, the Consultative Loya Jirga, passed a resolution calling for the release of the last group of around 5,000 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for direct peace talks with the insurgent group, which spanned nearly two decades to end the ongoing war. The release of the 400 prisoners was part of the agreement signed by the US and the Taliban in February.
In March 2021, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Biden government proposed that the Afghan government conclude a provisional power-sharing agreement with the Taliban.
In April 2021, President Biden announced that the US would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September 2021.
In August, just months after the US began withdrawing troops, the Biden government sent 5,000 soldiers to Afghanistan after the Taliban began to take control of the country.
On August 15, after the Taliban captured every major city in Afghanistan except Kabul in just two weeks, the Taliban held talks with the government in the capital about who will rule the nation.
The Taliban are now nearing complete control of the country and have taken the presidential palace in Kabul after President Ghani’s flight. Earlier talks to form a transitional government appear to have been thwarted by Ghani’s departure.
CNN’s Clarissa Ward, Tim Lister, Vasco Cotovio, Angela Dewan, Mostafa Salem and Saleem Mehsud contributed to this post.