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7 Things You Need to Know About the Afghan War
President Obama announced Tuesday his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to shore up the war effort there while pressing the Afghan government to step up. The goal, Obama said, was to prepare Afghan forces to take over security of the country so U.S. forces could begin withdrawal by July 2011 -- but will the plan work? Time will tell, but in the meantime, brush up on the war with FoxNews.com's guide.
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Afghanistan: A Forbidding Region

•Afghanistan is a landlocked country slightly smaller than Texas with a population of 28 million. Summers are hot, winters are cold and the terrain is dominated by rugged mountains.

•Agriculture is Afghanistan's main industry, engaging 80 percent of all workers, but only 12 percent of the land is arable.

•Its main crop is the poppy and major exports are opium, fruits and nuts, and hand-woven carpets.

Click here for more from the CIA World Factbook.

Politics and Power

•Afghanistan is an Islamic republic led by President Hamid Karzai, who was sworn in for a second 5-year term in November.
•The country has a legislative and court system but is wracked by graft and is regarded as the second-most corrupt country in the world, after Somalia.
•The central government does not have control of the entire nation, which is held in parts by warlords and the Taliban.

Click here for more from the U.S. State Department.

(Reuters)

The Taliban

•The Taliban, a mixture of mujahideen warriors and local tribesmen, formed in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. At first trained and funded by the U.S. during their fight against the Soviet Union, they emerged as a political force during a civil war in 1994 and seized power in 1996.

•The Taliban (Pashto for "students") are Sunni Muslims who follow a brutal version of strict Wahhabi Islamic law, banning all "un-Islamic" activity and committing numerous human rights violations, restricting all freedom for women.

•The coalition invasion of 2001 dislodged the Taliban, but thousands of their fighters remain, some waging a daily war against the country's government, others aiding that fight as part-time mercenaries.

•The Taliban currently dominate 11 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, according to the U.S. military.

Click here for more on the Taliban.

(Reuters)

Al Qaeda

•Al Qaeda is an international terrorist group founded by Usama bin Laden that preaches a radical form of Sunni Islam and has executed deadly attacks across the world.

•Bin Laden founded Al Qaeda in the 1980s from a core group of jihadist Muslims who were fighting against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, training thousands more in camps in Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan.

•International troops hunted down Al Qaeda in their former safe haven in Afghanistan, scattering them to the mountainous border between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

(Reuters)

Afghanistan: History of War

•1220: Genghis Khan's Mongol horde overtakes Afghanistan, devastating the region
•1363: Tamerlane conquers large swaths of Afghanistan
•1504: Babur establishes the Mogul Empire, with its capital at Kabul
•1750: Ahmad Shah conquers the region and founds what becomes the modern nation-state of Afghanistan
•1839-42; 1878-80; 1919: Britain wars with Afghanistan, asserting sovereignty
•1919: King Amanullah gains control of the country, eventually concluding peace with Britain
•1979: The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, withdrawing a decade later but leaving a puppet leader in power
•1996: The Taliban seize power in Afghanistan
•2001: The Unites States and an international coalition or powers invade Afghanistan, aided by an alliance of tribal chieftains, removing the Taliban from power

(AP)

The Soviet Invasion

•Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, killing the leader of a recent coup and installing a new prime minister.

•An overwhelming majority of Afghans opposed the communist regime, which controlled only about 20 percent of the country and faced a constant fight from mujahideen militants aided by the U.S.

•Unable to govern the country, Soviet troops withdrew fully by February 1989, after the lives of an estimated 1 million Afghans and 14,500 Soviet troops were lost.

•Afghanistan's civil war continued even after the Soviet withdrawal.

(Mikhail Estafiev)

The 9/11 Connection

•Usama bin Laden was kicked out of Sudan in 1996 and relocated to Afghanistan, where the Taliban provided him "sanctuary in which to train and indoctrinate fighters and terrorists ... and plot and staff terrorist schemes," according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

•Al Qaeda hatched the 9/11 plot from Afghanistan, where bin Laden personally selected the terrorists who would take part.

•The Taliban refused years of requests from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to turn over bin Laden, and after a final ultimatum from President Bush in September 2001, an international coalition invaded Afghanistan in October.

•Bin Laden and the senior leadership fled east to safety in the mountains around Tora Bora as the invasion began, and many are now believed to be on the Pakistani side of the border region between the countries.

(Reuters)

7 Things You Need to Know About the Afghan War

President Obama announced Tuesday his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to shore up the war effort there while pressing the Afghan government to step up. The goal, Obama said, was to prepare Afghan forces to take over security of the country so U.S. forces could begin withdrawal by July 2011 -- but will the plan work? Time will tell, but in the meantime, brush up on the war with FoxNews.com's guide.

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