Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan
- 22 October 2001 - 28 December 2014
- Military personnel
In February 1989, the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan after more than 10 years of occupation. The communist regime held out until April 1992, when Kabul was captured by mujahedeen troops.
In the years that followed, Kabul became the focal point of the armed struggle between 2 resistance movements, which ultimately resulted in the devastation of large parts of the city. In 1994, a new military power emerged unexpectedly, the Taliban (plural of Talib, which simply means religious student), mainly from Koran schools (madrassas) in Pakistan. In the autumn of 1994, the fundamentalist Taliban began their advance in Afghanistan. They captured large parts of the country within a few years. Only in the north did a few mujahedeen groups, united in the Northern Alliance, hold their ground.
In the war against the Soviet Union, one of the sources of support for the Afghan resistance had been Al Qaida (which means 'the base’). This organisation of Islamic fundamentalists numbered an estimated 50,000 members, most of whom, like their leader Osama bin Laden, came from the Arabian peninsula. After the fall of the communist regime, Osama bin Laden set up his base in Sudan and built Al Qaida up into a sizeable international terrorist network. Under pressure from the United States, the Sudanese government closed its doors to Al Qaida in 1996. Osama bin Laden and his followers found a new refuge in the Taliban’s Afghanistan.
US declares war on terrorism after 9/11
On 11 September 2001 – ‘9/11’ – Al Qaida carried out attacks in New York and Washington DC. The United States responded by invoking Article 51 of the United Nations Charter (the right to self-defence) and declared war on terror. The 1st target in the war was the Taliban government, which was harbouring Osama bin Laden and his organisation. The United States applied considerable pressure on the Taliban regime to extradite the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks. The uncooperative attitude of the government in Kabul prompted the decision by the United States to join forces with the United Kingdom and Australia and launch an attack on 7 October. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was thus a fact.