After the invasion of Afghanistan by US-led forces,
women lost some of their rights.
democratic elections were held.
corruption in government decreased.
coalition forces rapidly rebuilt cities.
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Afghanistan, remote and mountainous, has seen many conflicts. The terrible civil war of more recent times began in 1979 as the Soviet Union intervened to prop up a friendly regime. For nearly a decade Islamic rebels, backed mainly by the United States and Saudi Arabia, fought the Soviet army. The CIA secretly funded and armed Maktab al-Khadimat, established to recruit and train fighters from around the Arab world to battle the Russians. Osama Bin Laden was one of its top leaders. The rebels eventually forced a Soviet withdrawal in 1989. There followed a violent power struggle between the various Islamic militias, never unified, for control of the country. The Taliban, supported by Pakistan, won control of the capital, Kabul, and most of the country by 1996.
On October 7, 2001, the United States launched military strikes against the Taliban regime in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, said to have been masterminded by bin Laden from his base in Afghanistan. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the US demanded the Taliban surrender Bin Laden to the appropriate authorities, but the Taliban rejected the ultimatum. US military intervention followed. At the UN-supported Bonn conference in December 2001, representatives from four Afghan factions agreed to establish a broad-based interim government. The US-backed Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai, exiled under the Taliban, was installed as Afghanistan's new interim president.
Despite the presence of the International Security Assistance Force, deployed in December 2001 to defend the Afghanistan Transitional Authority, and the work of the UN political mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, civil war continues and Afghanistan has become a "failed state." The authority of President Hamid Karzai, victor in the presidential election of October 2004, barely extends beyond Kabul's suburbs, with warlords once again in control of most of the country and a rampant opium trade supplying funding for local militias.