The United States and its allies are helping Afghanistan emerging from more than 22 years of warfare, although substantial risk to Afghan stability remains. Before the U.S. military campaign against the orthodox Islamist Taliban movement began on October 7, 2001, Afghanistan had been mired in conflict since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The defeat of the Taliban enabled the United States and its coalition partners to send forces throughout Afghanistan to search for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and leaders that remain at large, including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. As U.S.-led combat against remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban elements winds down, the United States is shifting its military focus toward stabilizing the interim government, including training a new Afghan national army, and supporting the international security force (ISAF) that is helping the new government provide security. To help foster development, the United Nations and the Bush Administration have lifted most sanctions imposed on Afghanistan since the Soviet occupation. The "loya jirga" delegates selected a new government to run Afghanistan for the next 18 months and approved Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun, to continue as leader for that time, but the assembly adjourned without establishing a new parliament.
CRS Report for Congress, RL30588