President Trump abruptly ended the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, just as it appeared that the rebels and Washington were
But why is the US waging war in Afghanistan and why is it taking so long?
On September 1
The Taliban, the radical Islamists who ruled Afghanistan and defended Bin Laden, refused to betray him. So, a month after 9/11, the United States launched air strikes against Afghanistan.
As other countries became involved in the war, the Taliban were quickly removed from power. But they not only disappeared – their influence increased and they dug in.
Since then, the United States and their allies have been fighting to stop the collapse of the Afghan government and stop deadly attacks on the Taliban.
"We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it," said US President George W. Bush when he announced the first airstrikes against Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. The raids were in response to the September 11 attacks. which killed 2,977 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
The mission, he said, was "to suspend the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime."
The first targets were military sites belonging to the firm Taliban group that ruled the country. Al-Qaeda training camps, a terrorist group run by the Sept. 11 plotter of Osama bin Laden, were also affected.
But 18 years later, it is difficult to argue that the US mission has been fulfilled – the Taliban can play a role in ruling Afghanistan again if peace talks eventually succeed.
The Taliban took control of the capital Kabul for the first time in 1996 and ruled most of the country for two years. They follow a radical form of Islam and impose punishments such as public executions.
Within two months after the US and its international and Afghan allies launched their attacks, the Taliban regime collapsed and its fighters melted into Pakistan.
The US-backed government took over in 2004, but the Taliban still had a lot of support in the areas around the Pakistan border and made hundreds of millions of dollars a year in drugs, mining and taxes.
As the Taliban endured more and more suicide attacks, international forces working with Afghan troops fought to counter the threat posed by the activated group.
In 2014, at the end of the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, NATO's international forces – cautiously staying in Afghanistan indefinitely – ended their combat mission, leaving it to the Afghan army to fight the Taliban.
But it gave the Taliban a boost as they seized territory and bombed again government and civilian targets. Last year, the BBC found that the Taliban were openly active in 70% of Afghanistan.
Where did the Taliban come from?
Afghanistan had been in a state of near constant war for 20 years, even before the US invaded.
In the 1979 year after the coup, the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan to support its communist government. He is fighting a resistance movement – known as the Mujahideen – which has been backed by the US, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia, among other countries.
In 1989 the Soviet troops withdrew, but the civil war continued. In the ensuing chaos, the Taliban (meaning "students" in the empty language) emerged.
They first came to prominence in the border area of northern Pakistan and southwestern Afghanistan in 1994 . They promised to fight corruption and improve security, and at that time many Afghans were tired of the excesses and fighting of the Mujahideen during the civil war.
- Which are the Taliban?
- What would peace in Afghanistan look like?
The Taliban is thought to have first appeared in religious schools funded predominantly by Saudi Arabia, which preach a solid form of Islam.
They impose their own strict version of Sharia or Islamic law and impose brutal punishments. Men were made to grow beards, and women had to wear a comprehensive burqa.
The Taliban banned television, music and cinema and did not approve of girls' education.
And because the Taliban provided shelter for al-Qaeda fighters, it made them an immediate target for attacks by US, Afghan and international forces since 9/11.
Why did the war last so long?
There are many reasons for this. But they include a combination of fierce resistance by the Taliban, restrictions on Afghan forces and governance, and the reluctance of other countries to hold their troops longer in Afghanistan.
Sometimes in the last 18 years the Taliban have been on their backs. leg. In late 2009, US President Barack Obama declared a "jump" force that saw the number of US troops in Afghanistan top 100,000.
The influence helped drive the Taliban out of parts of southern Afghanistan, but never was destined to continue
As a result, the Taliban were able to regroup. When international forces withdrew from the fighting, the Afghan forces left to lead the charge were easily overcome. To make matters worse, the Afghan government, which is full of tribal divisions, is often barred.
Daud Azami of the BBC World Service says that there are five major causes of war still going on. These include:
- lack of political clarity since the beginning of the invasion and questions about the effectiveness of the US strategy over the last 18 years;
- the fact that every country is trying to overcome what has become a stalemate – and that the Taliban are trying to scale up during the peace talks
- increasing violence by Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan – they are behind some of the bloodiest attacks recently
Also played by a neighbor from Afghanistan, Pakistan.
There is no doubt that the Taliban have their roots in Pakistan and that they managed to regroup there during the American invasion. But Pakistan has denied helping or defending them – even as the US has asked to do more to fight the fighters.
How did the Taliban stay so strong?
The group can earn $ 1.5 billion (1.2 lb bn) a year, a huge growth even in the last decade. Part of this is through drugs – Afghanistan is the largest opium producer in the world, and most opium poppies – used for heroin – are grown in Taliban-held areas.
But the Taliban also make money by taxing people traveling through their territory, ie. and through businesses such as telecommunications, electricity and minerals.
Foreign countries, including Pakistan and Iran, refused to fund them, but private citizens in the region are believed to have done so.
How expensive was the war?  Exceptional.
It is difficult to say how many Afghan troops have died – the numbers are no longer published. But in January 2019, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated that 45,000 members of the security forces had been killed since 2014.
Nearly 3500 members of international coalition forces died after the 2001 invasion, more than 2300 of them American.
Figures for Afghan civilians are more difficult to quantify. A UN report in February 2019 said that more than 32,000 civilians had died. Watson Institute at Brown University says that 42,000 opposition fighters have died.
The same institute says conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan have cost the United States $ 5.9 trillion since 2001.
The United States still strikes at the Taliban, incited by the third president of war surveillance, Donald Trump. But he wants to reduce the number of troops before he faces the November 2020 next elections.
The Taliban now control much more territory than they did when international troops left Afghanistan in 2014.
Many in Washington and elsewhere, fears that the full withdrawal of US troops will leave a vacuum that can be filled by militant groups trying to ward off attacks in the West.
Meanwhile, Afghans continue to bear the brunt of the long and bloody conflict.