Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Publication Date: May 2009

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Government


Coverage: Afghanistan


Afghanistan's political transition was completed with the convening of a parliament in December 2005, but in 2006 insurgent threats to Afghanistan's government escalated to the point that some experts were questioning the success of U.S. stabilization efforts. In the political process, a new constitution was adopted in January 2004, successful presidential elections were held on October 9, 2004, and parliamentary elections took place on September 18, 2005. The parliament has become an arena for factions that have fought each other for nearly three decades to debate and peacefully resolve differences. Afghan citizens are enjoying new personal freedoms that were forbidden under the Taliban. Women are participating in economic and political life, including as ministers, provincial governors, and senior levels of the new parliament.

The insurgency led by remnants of the former Taliban regime escalated in 2006, after several years in which it appeared the Taliban were mostly defeated. Taliban fighters have been conducting large-scale attacks on coalition and Afghan security forces in several southern provinces, possibly assisted by popular frustration with slow reconstruction, official corruption, and the failure to extend Afghan government authority into rural areas and provinces. In addition, narcotics trafficking is resisting counter-measures, and independent militias remain throughout the country, although many have been disarmed.

U.S. and partner stabilization measures focus on strengthening the central government and its security forces and on promoting reconstructing while combating the renewed insurgent challenge. The United States and other countries are building an Afghan National Army, deploying a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that now commands peacekeeping throughout Afghanistan, and running regional enclaves to secure reconstruction (Provincial Reconstruction Teams, PRTs). Approximately 21,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan to help combat the insurgency, of which all but 8,000 are now under NATO/ISAF command.

To build security institutions and assist reconstruction, the United States gave Afghanistan about $4.35 billion in FY2005, including funds to equip and train Afghan security forces. Another approximately $3 billion was provided in FY2006. FY2007 appropriations add another approximately $2.6 billion, including security forces funding.

This paper will be updated as warranted by major developments. See also CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Elections, Constitution, and Government, by Kenneth Katzman; and CRS Report RL32686, Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy, by Christopher M. Blanchard.