"U.S. and international officials are hopeful that Afghanistan is emerging from more than 22 years of warfare and instability, 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 Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan during 1996 until its collapse at the hands of the U.S. and Afghan opposition military campaign in November - December 2001. During its rule, the Taliban was opposed primarily by the Northern Alliance, a coalition of minority ethnic groups. During 1998 until its rule ended, the Taliban had come under increasing international pressure to cease hosting of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and members of his Al Qaeda organization, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The collapse of the Taliban has enabled the United States to send in forces throughout Afghanistan to search for remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and leaders, including bin Laden himself, although bin Laden and most of the top Taliban leadership remain at large. […] As the war against remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban elements continues, the United States is working to stabilize the interim government, arrange humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, expand a new Afghan national army, and support the international security force (ISAF) that is helping the new government provide security. The United States has reopened its embassy in Kabul and allowed the interim Afghan administration to reopen Afghanistan's embassy in Washington."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30588