Afghanistan – United States relations: Wikis


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United States – Afghanistan relations
United States   Afghanistan
Map indicating location of United States and Afghanistan
     United States      Afghanistan

United States – Afghanistan relations can be traced to 1921[1] but the first contact between the two occurred further back in 1830s when the first recorded person from the United States was visiting Afghanistan.[2]



Josiah Harlan, an American adventurer in 1830s, wearing his Afghan robes.

The first recorded contact between Afghanistan and the United States occurred in 1830s when Josiah Harlan, an American adventurer from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, traveled to Afghanistan with intentions of becoming a king there. He became involved in the local Afghan politics and factional military actions, eventually winning the title Prince of Ghor in exchange for military aid.[2]

In January 1921, the Afghan mission visited the United States to establish diplomatic relations.[1] After the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1934, the U.S. policy of helping developing nations raise their standard of living was an important factor in maintaining and improving U.S. ties with Afghanistan.[3]

In 1942, Major Gordon Enders of the United States Army was appointed "the first military attaché to the non-existent U.S. embassy in Kabul. He was the first envoy of any kind to be sent to represent the United States in Kabul."[4] However, the first official United States Ambassador to Afghanistan was Cornelius Van Engert.[5] The first official Afghanistan Ambassador to the United States was Habibullah Khan Tarzi who served from 1948 to 1953.

In the 1950s, the United States declined Afghanistan's request for defense cooperation but extended an economic assistance program focused on the development of Afghanistan's physical infrastructure—roads, dams, and power plants. Later, U.S. aid shifted from infrastructure projects to technical assistance programs to help develop the skills needed to build a modern economy.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower riding in his motorcade in Kabul.

Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Kabul in December 1959, becoming the first U.S. President to travel to Afghanistan. From 1950 to 1979, U.S. foreign assistance provided Afghanistan with more than $500 million in loans, grants, and surplus agricultural commodities to develop transportation facilities, increase agricultural production, expand the educational system, stimulate industry, and improve government administration.[3]

Afghan King Zahir Shah in the United States with U.S. President John F. Kennedy along with their wives

The Peace Corps was active in Afghanistan between 1962 and 1979. During the early 1960s the last King of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, went for a visit to the United States and met there with John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Habibullah Karzai, uncle of Hamid Karzai who served as representative of Afghanistan at the United Nations, is also believed to have accompanied Zahir Shah in the course of the King's state visit.[6]

After the April 28, 1978 Saur Revolution, relations deteriorated. In February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph "Spike" Dubs was murdered in Kabul after Afghan security forces burst in on his kidnappers. The U.S. then reduced bilateral assistance and terminated a small military training program. All remaining assistance agreements were ended after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


During the Cold War

Following the Soviet invasion, the United States supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. In addition, generous U.S. contributions to the refugee program in Pakistan played a major part in efforts to assist Afghan refugees. U.S. efforts also included helping the population living inside Afghanistan. This cross-border humanitarian assistance program aimed at increasing Afghan self-sufficiency and helping resist Soviet attempts to drive civilians out of the rebel-dominated countryside. During the period of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. provided about 3 billion US dollars in military and economic assistance to the Mujahideen groups stationed on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line. The U.S. embassy in Kabul was closed in January 1989 for security reasons.

2001 present war in Afghanistan

Former U.S. President George W. Bush with wife Laura Bush welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Camp David on August 5, 2007

Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, believed to be orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, who at the time was residing in Afghanistan under asylum, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom. This major military operation was aimed at removing the Taliban government from power and to capture or kill al Qaeda members. Following the overthrow of the Taliban, the U.S. supported the new government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai by maintaining a high level of troops to establish the authority of his government as well as combat Taliban insurgency. Both Afghanistan and the United States resumed diplomatic ties in late 2001.

The United States has taken the leading role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan with providing billions of dollars for building national roads, government and education institutions, as well as the entire national military of the country.[7] In 2005, the United States and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement committing both nations to a long-term relationship.[3] Former U.S. President George W. Bush along with his wife Laura made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on March 1, 2006. Although many American politicians have praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai's leadership in the fight against the Taliban in 2007[8], he has come under fire in 2009 from the Obama administration for his perceived unwillingness to crack down on government corruption.[9] After winning the 2009 presidential election Hamid Karzai began to deal with corruption in his country.

From 2002 the United States armed forces has been gradually rising its troop level in Afghanistan. As of late 2009, there are approximately 67,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in the country and an additional 30,000 troops are preparing to go there for duty by summer 2010.[10]

The U.S. has an embassy in Kabul and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has an embassy in Washington DC, as well as a consulate general in New York City and Los Angeles. The current Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States is Said Tayeb Jawad. On December 2, 2009, US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Afghan officials, after signing a land lease for the mission with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, announced that the US will open consulates outside Kabul. A first lease-contract was signed in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, and a second one in the western city of Herat on December 16, 2009. The consulate in Herat will operate for three years in a leased hotel. During the period the United States will construct a new building for the consulate there. The opening of the second consulate, in Mazar-e-Sharif, is planned for 2010 [11] [12].

See also


  1. ^ a b British Library - Afghanistan 1919–1928: Sources in the India Office Records1921 (January), Afghan mission visits Europe and USA to establish diplomatic relations.
  2. ^ a b Biography of Josia Harlan
  3. ^ a b c U.S. Department of State - Background Note: Afghanistan
  4. ^ Frye, R. N. Greater Iran. Mazda Publishers. 2005. ISBN 1-56859-177-2. p.16
  5. ^ Frye, R. N. Greater Iran. Mazda Publishers. 2005. ISBN 1-56859-177-2. p.28
  7. ^ Bloomberg, Bush to Seek as Much as $8 Billion for Afghanistan, Snow Says By Judy Mathewson
  8. ^ Pajhwok Afghan News, US lawmakers laud Afghan progress under Karzai (December 6, 2007)
  9. ^ Pleming, Sue. "Karzai faces wall of U.S. pressure to govern better." Reuters, November 2, 2009. [1],
  10. ^ Landay, Jonathan. "Obama leaning toward 34,000 more troops for Afghanistan." McClatchy, November 7, 2009. [2]
  11. ^ "Remarks By U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry And Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta At The Signing Ceremony For the U.S. Consulate In Mazar-E-Sharif"
  12. ^ "U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry Remarks at the Lease-Signing Ceremony for U.S. Consulate Herat"

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