Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
(Image: Harald Dettenborn)

Afghan System of Government: Presidential Republic

Afghanistan was an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Sitting at an important geostrategic point that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and has witnessed many military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Arab Muslims, Genghis Khan and Modern-Era Western forces.

Click here for List of Afghan Political Parties

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.



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