Afghanistan remains an important partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism, working with us to eliminate al-Qaeda, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) and their affiliates in Afghanistan. In order to strengthen Afghanistan’s capabilities as a partner, and to improve the lives of the Afghan people, we continue to invest U.S. resources to help Afghanistan improve its security, governance, institutions and economy. Our strong bilateral partnership is guided by the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America (SPA) signed in May 2012, which outlines respective economic and political commitments, as well as by the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed in September 2014, which outlines mutual security understandings. In July 2012, following the entry into force of the SPA, President Obama designated Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). President Trump’s conditions-based South Asia Strategy, announced in August 2017, seeks to set conditions for a political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government that ultimately leads to a peace agreement and an end the conflict in Afghanistan. President Trump was clear that military power alone will not end the war but can set the conditions for a political process that leads to lasting peace.
U.S. Security Support for Afghanistan
The United States military has been engaged in Afghanistan since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In 2003, NATO assumed leadership of the United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force Mission (ISAF). At its height, ISAF included more than 130,000 troops from 51 NATO and partner nations. ISAF forces fought alongside the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as the international community worked to improve ANDSF capabilities. U.S. force levels peaked at roughly 100,000 in 2011, and began to decrease through 2014, as the ANDSF gained strength. There have been more than 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001, and over 20,000 U.S. service members have been wounded in action. U.S. casualties in Afghanistan peaked at 499 in 2010 and dropped sharply after January 2015, when Afghan forces assumed full responsibility for combat operations against the Taliban.
ISAF officially ended on December 31, 2014, with the ANDSF taking over full responsibility for security in Afghanistan on January 1, 2015, when the United States and NATO formally ended their combat role in Afghanistan and transitioned to a new mission. On January 1, 2015, NATO launched the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), a non-combat mission focused on providing train, advise, and assist support to the ANDSF. In addition to the United States, there are 39 NATO Ally and partner nations contributing troops to RSM and helping Afghan forces become more effective, professional, and sustainable. The BSA and a NATO Status of Forces agreement signed in September 2014 provide the legal basis for U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan.
The United States has approximately 14,000 troops in Afghanistan engaged in two missions: 1) a bilateral counterterrorism mission in cooperation with Afghan forces; and 2) participation in RSM. U.S. troops in Afghanistan serve alongside almost 8,000 troops from NATO allies and partners. U.S. forces continue to disrupt and degrade the Taliban’s combat operations, ISIS-K, and al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan, through partnered operations with Afghan forces, as well as unilateral operations. The United States is committed to maintaining military pressure on the Taliban to reverse their battlefield gains and provide leverage at the negotiating table. Additionally, combatting ISIS-K and the remnants of al-Qaeda continues to be a priority for the United states.
The US is to withdraw 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by mid-January, the US Department of Defense confirmed. President Donald Trump has long called for troops to come home and has criticised US interventions abroad. Acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller – who was installed last week after Mr Trump – said the move reflected the president’s policy “to bring the wars in Afghanistan to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home”.[BBC-19/11/2020]
U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan
The United States is part of a coalition of more than 100 countries and organizations that provide both security and civilian assistance to Afghanistan. The United States and more than 30 other nations provide financial support to the ANDSF. The international community made almost $5 billion available for the ANDSF in 2019, with the United States providing the greatest share. At the Brussels ANA Trust Fund Plenary June 2019, NATO Allies and Operational Partners reaffirmed their commitment to financial sustainment of the Afghan forces through 2024.
Similarly, at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in October 2016, the United States and other international donors committed to provide Afghanistan $15.2 billion in civilian assistance through 2020. In its turn, Afghanistan committed to strengthen governance, rule of law, fiscal sustainability, and human rights. The United Nations hosted donors in Geneva in 2018 to assess Afghan progress on reform and re-affirm their Brussels commitments. In addition, donors at Geneva noted their intent to continue civilian assistance after a political settlement and agreed to urgently develop a post-settlement economic action plan to help prepare for an eventual peace agreement. Reform commitments are codified in the “Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF).
The United States uses the bilateral Afghanistan Compact and the multilateral GMAF to hold the Afghan Government accountable to mutually agreed reform commitments. We focus our development assistance on promoting peace, self-reliance, and stability including through programs to increase economic growth via an export-oriented trade strategy, capacity of civilian institutions, improving the performance of the justice system, and helping the government maintain and improve upon the gains made over the last decade in health, education, and women’s rights. The United States also provides support for Afghan civil society, promotes increased respect for human rights, helps to fight the illegal trade in narcotics, and continues to provide significant humanitarian support. Since 2001, the United States has allocated approximately $29 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Afghanistan signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States in 2004. The TIFA is the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries. Exports from the United States to Afghanistan increased 525% from $150 million in 2004 to $937 million in 2017. Efforts are underway to improve the business climate, including strengthening Afghanistan’s commercial regulatory and legal framework to attract foreign trade and investment, as well as to stimulate additional trade with the United States through trade capacity development. Implementation of new, WTO-compliant legislation and policies will improve Afghanistan’s business environment and trade regime, and provide an international legal framework that will help further Afghanistan’s regional integration.
Following the controversial 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan, the United States called for and financially supported the United Nations audit of the vote, and helped mediate a political agreement that resulted in the creation of the National Unity Government. The United States remains committed to political stability and the democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan. After a three-year delay, the Afghan government held parliamentary elections in October 2018, and the next presidential election is scheduled for September 2019. The United States fully supports efforts to reform Afghanistan’s electoral institutions in order to hold timely, credible, and transparent elections.
Afghanistan’s Membership in International Organizations
Afghanistan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Afghanistan also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and joined the World Trade Organization in 2016.
Ambassador John Bass was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in September 2017.
Afghanistan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-483-6410). Ambassador Roya Rahmani has served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States since December 2018.
Update: November 2020
Source: US Department of State
Categories: Foreign policy