Compiled by Isaac D. Pacheco, Amanda McCarthy, and Luis A. Jimenez Jr.

In the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the United States supported both the Afghan resistance fighters and diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. In the ensuing civil war, an extremist militant Islamic group known as the Taliban rose to national authority through violence and intimidation. The Taliban brutally suppressed the human rights of Afghan citizens, particularly women, and provided a haven for Al Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Following the 9/11 attacks, and the Taliban’s repeated refusal to expel Osama bin Laden and his associates and end its support for international terrorism, the United States and its coalition partners began a military campaign on Oct. 7, 2001, that targeted terrorist facilities and Taliban military and political assets. Over the next two decades, U.S. and coalition troops conducted operations in Afghanistan to dismantle remaining terrorist networks and to support and protect the Afghan people as they sought democratic freedoms.


Timeline of U.S. Diplomatic Relations with Afghanistan

History of U.S. Diplomatic Relations with Afghanistan timeline. A horizontal line starts at 1935: Establishment of Diplomatic Relations; 1942: Establishment of U.S. Legation in Afghanistan; 1948: Elevation of U.S. Legation to Embassy Status; 1989: Closure of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan; 2001: Establishment of the U.S. Liaison Office in Kabul; 2002: Re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan; 2021: Suspension of Embassy Operations in Kabul.

To view source visit the Office of the Historian website.


In 2020, the U.S. agreed to withdraw remaining troops from the country with the hope that Afghanistan’s government would be able to maintain security in key areas while the international community continued to press for a political settlement to the country’s internal conflict. Unfortunately, as American troops concluded their planned withdrawal in the summer of 2021, leaders of Afghanistan’s government fled the country, precipitating the collapse of the Afghan military and rapid deterioration of security across the country. With enemy fighters reasserting control over population centers, including Kabul, at-risk Afghans fled to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in a desperate bid to protect themselves and their families from Taliban retribution.

The imminent arrival of Taliban fighters in August 2021 prompted the emergency suspension of Embassy Kabul’s operations. Mission staff moved to HKIA where they helped support the evacuation of at-risk Afghans. Department of State personnel, U.S. service members, and interagency partners around the world united to assist Afghans in what ultimately became the largest humanitarian airlift operation in American history. This unprecedented effort, which came to be known as Operation Allies Refuge abroad, and Operation Allies Welcome once Afghans arrived Stateside, showcased the courage, empathy, and selflessness of America’s public servants, and demonstrated the United States’ ongoing commitment to its allies and partners across the globe.

As the emergency evacuation winds down, Afghans are beginning to settle into new communities. The Department and its partners remain committed to supporting their transition and integration into American society—and to helping those Afghans who did not depart, and to whom the United States has an enduring commitment. The following vignettes are only a small sampling of the thousands of stories that have arisen from this global response. These accounts detail the many ways that people of different cultures and backgrounds around the world united together to support other humans in need.


Kabul team demonstrates extraordinary resolve amid chaos

American diplomats and soldiers showed extraordinary bravery, commitment, and dedication in service to the United States and the Afghan people during the tumultuous days in Afghanistan this summer—from the Aug. 15-16 move of embassy staff…
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Teamwork drives successful Stateside ATF support effort

The world watched as more than 120,000 people were airlifted from Afghanistan in August 2021. Soldiers and diplomats worked tirelessly to fill planes and evacuate as many Americans, colleagues, and allies as possible. After the planes departed Kabul…
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Diplomatic Couriers support final operations in Afghanistan

The call came a few days before Kabul was surrounded by the Taliban. Law and order had deteriorated in Afghanistan, and the U.S. embassy’s regional security office (RSO) was in the middle of a herculean task to close the embassy…
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Broad partnerships bolster Mission Qatar’s OAR response

Embassy Doha played a pivotal role in the largest noncombatant evacuation process in history—Operation Allies Rescue (OAR). Over a four-week period, some 58,000 evacuees passed through Qatar, were housed on U.S. bases…
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Team Kuwait provides safe transit for at-risk Afghans

Like many American embassies and consulates around the world during the late days of summer 2021, Embassy Kuwait was working creatively to advance U.S. diplomatic engagement despite the persistent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic…
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Mission Germany helms unified effort at Ramstein Air Base

When Embassy Berlin Political Officer Salman Khalil encountered an injured, traumatized man among the thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Khalil knew he had to help. The man was unable to communicate in English…
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Mission India answers the call during Afghanistan airlift

“I made it inside the airport!” exclaimed the American citizen. “We’re in the terminal waiting for our flight!” “I’m so glad, that’s excellent news! I’m going to mark down that you’re safe and leaving Afghanistan.” Hang up…
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Mission Mexico provides hope hotline to those in need

When staff across Mission Mexico learned about Operation Allies Refuge, many on the team weren’t sure how they could contribute, but still wanted to join the worldwide Department of State effort. Officers, local staff, and family members from…
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