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Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified
the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a
buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won independence
from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy
ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union
invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, but
withdrew 10 years later under relentless pressure by internationally
supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A civil war between mujahedin
factions erupted following the 1992 fall of the Communist regime. The
Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to
end the country's civil war and anarchy, seized Kabul in 1996 and most of
the country outside of opposition Northern Alliance strongholds by 1998.
Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and
Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama
BIN LADIN. In late 2001, a conference in Bonn, Germany, established a
process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new
constitution and a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly
elections in 2005. On 7 December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first
democratically president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was
inaugurated on 19 December 2005.