Most of Afghanistan's history prior to the modern state of Afghanistan took place within the context of the various
Persian Empires. The political history of modern Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns, when the
Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar and was followed by the Durrani Empire in 1747. In the late 19th
century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire. Following the
1919 Anglo-Afghan War, King Amanullah began a European-style modernization of the country but was stopped by
ultra-conservatives. During the Cold War, after the withdrawal of the British from neighboring India in 1947, the
United States and the Soviet Union began competing for influence in Afghanistan, and this led in 1979 to a bloody war between
the US-backed Mujahideen forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their
lives. This in turn was followed by a 1990s civil war, the rise and fall of the extremist Taliban government, and the
2001 American invasion following the 9-11 terrorist attacks (the organization and planning of which were based out of
Afghanistan). In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of
the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan.
Decades of war have made Afghanistan one of the world's most dangerous countries. While the international community is
attempting to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Hezbi Islami are actively
involved in a nationwide Taliban-led insurgency.
The government of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers, Provincial Governors and the National Assembly with a
President serving as Head of State and commander-in-chief of the Afghan Armed Forces backed by two Vice Presidents. Since
9-11 the politics of Afghanistan have been influenced by NATO countries, particularly the US, in an effort to stabilize and
democratize the country.