Friday, April 30, 2010

War in Afghanistan and its Reasons

The War in Afghanistan (2001 – present) began on October 7, 2001, having been launched in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States of America. This marked the beginning of the Bush Administration’s campaign known as the War on Terrorism. The stated purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda, and remove the Taliban regime which had provided support and safe honour to al-Qaeda. The U. S. and the U. K. led the aerial bombing campaign, with ground forces supplied primarily by the Afghan Northern Alliance. In 2002, U. S. and British infantry joined the attack. Later NATOK troops were added. The U. S. military’s name of the conflict was Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).


From May 1996, Osama bin Laden had been living in Afghanistan along with other members of al-Qaeda, operating terrorist training camps in a loose alliance with the Taliban. Following the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa, the US military launched submarine-based cruise missiles at these camps with limited effect on their overall operations. The UN Security Council had issued Resolutions 1267 and 1333 in 1999 and 2000 directed towards the Taliban which applied financial and military hardware sanctions to encourage them to turn over bin Laden for trial in the deadly bombings of two U. S. embassies in Africa in August 1998, and close terrorist training camps.

The 9 – 11 attacks

After the September 11, 2001, attacks, investigators rapidly accumulated evidence implicating Osama bin Laden. In a taped statement, bin Laden publicly acknowledged his and al-Qaeda’s direct involvement in the 9 – 11 attacks. In an audiotape posted on a website that the U. S. claims is “frequently used by al-Qaeda”, on May 21, 2006, bin Laden said he had personally directed the 19 hijacker.

  • On 20 September 2001, in an address to a joint session of Congress, U. S. President George W. Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban, to:
  • Deliver al-Qaeda leaders located in Afghanistan to the United States.
  • Release all imprisoned foreign nationals, including American citizens.
  • Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in Afghanistan.
  • Close terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and “hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities”.
  • Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps to verify their closure.

The Taliban refused to directly speak to Bush, stating that talking with a non-Muslim political leader would be an insult to Islam. But they made statements through their embassy in Pakistan: the Taliban rejected the ultimatum on September 11, 2001, saying there was no evidence in their possession linking bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. On September 22, 2001 the United Arab Emirates, and on the following day, Saudi Arabia withdrew their recognition of the Taliban as the legal government of Afghanistan, leaving neighbouring Pakistan as the only remaining country with diplomatic ties. On October 4, 2001, it is believed that the Taliban covertly offered to turn bin Laden over to Pakistan for trial in an international tribunal that operated according to Islamic Sharia law. Pakistan is believed to have rejected the offer.

Moderates within the Taliban allegedly met with American embassy officials in Pakistan in mid-October to work out a way to convince Mullah Muhammad Omar to turn bin Laden over to the U. S. and avoid its impending retaliation. President Bush rejected these offers made by the Taliban as insincere. On October 7, 2001, before the onset of military operations, the Taliban made an open offer to try bin Laden in Afghanistan in an Islamic court. This counteroffer was immediately rejected by the U. S. an insufficient. It was not until October 14, 2001, seven days after war had broken out, that the Taliban openly offered to hand bin Laden over to a third country for trial, but only if they were given evidence of bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11.

The UN Security Council did not have to authorize the sue of force in the NATO-led military operations in Afghanistan as it was an act of collective self-defence provided for under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The Security Council has, however, authorized the International Security Assistance Force to use force in its mission of securing the country.

Timeline of the War

2001: Initial attack

At approximately 16:15 UTC (12:15 p. m. EDT, 20:45 local time) on Sunday October 7, 2001, America and British forces began an aerial bombing campaign targeting Taliban forces and al-Qaeda. Strikes were reported in the capital, Kabul (where electricity supplies were severed), at the airport and military nerve-centre of Kanadaha (home of the Taliban’s Supreme Leader Mullah Omar), and also in the city of Jalalabad (training camps). The U. S. government justified these attacks as a response to the September 11, 2001, attacks and the failure of the Taliban to meet any U. S. demands. The Taliban condemned these attacks and called them an “attack on Islam”.

At 17:00 UTC, President Bush confirmed the strikes on national television and British Prime Minister Tony Blair also addressed the UK. Bush stated that at the same time as Taliban military and terrorists’ training grounds would be targeted, food, medicine, and supplies would be dropped to “the starving and suffering men, women and children of Afghanistan CCN released exclusive footage of Kabul being bombed to all the American broadcasters at approximately 5:08 pm October 7th, 2001 A number of different technologies were employed in the strike. US Air Force general Richard Myers, chairman of the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that approximately 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched by British and U. S. submarines and ships, 25 strike aircraft from US aircraft carriers, USS CARL VINSON (CVN – 70) and USS ENTERPRISE (CVN – 65) and US Air Force bombers, such as B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortres were involved in the first wave. Two C-17 Globe-master transport jets were to deliver 37,500 daily rations by airdrop to refugees inside Afghanistan on the first day of the attack.


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