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NATO's Afghanistan Mission (ISAF)

On August 11, 2003, NATO took over the command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Acting on behalf of the United Nations, ISAF's primary objective was to facilitate the Afghan government in providing adequate security throughout the country and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists by establishing a new Afghan security force. Since 2011, security responsibilities gradually transitioned to the Afghan army, which took full command of security operations across the country in the summer of 2013. The transition process was completed, and at the end of 2014,


with the conclusion of the ISAF mission, the Afghan National Army assumed full responsibility for security. On January 1, 2015, a new non-combat mission called '"Resolute Support" was initiated to provide additional training, advice, and assistance to Afghan security forces and institutions. 


The significance of ISAF's activities and its impact on politics lies in its contributions to Afghanistan’s stability and security process. It was known that supporting the establishment and maintenance of a legitimate and stable government was a task assigned to ISAF. It assisted in the formation of a legitimate and stable government in Afghanistan by training. Afghan government security forces, providing advice and technical support, and improving the security environment. ISAF strengthened the legitimacy of the government by monitoring electoral processes, contributing to establishing democratic values and ensuring the security of the electoral process. This facilitated the smooth functioning of the democratic process, allowing the people to choose their representatives freely. In its support for the internal peace process, ISAF assisted in promoting dialogue and negotiations between conflicting parties and supporting efforts to end conflicts. This facilitated political steps towards a resolution and contributed to achieving peace. ISAF played a significant role in international relations with its mission in Afghanistan. As a NATO-supported mission, ISAF strengthened alliance relationships through the presence and contributions of NATO member countries in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, ISAF contributed to international aid and cooperation efforts in Afghanistan, securing support from the international community. ISAF's activities in Afghanistan also contributed to regional stability. It encouraged regional cooperation and coordination on counter-terrorism, combating drug trafficking, and border security. ISAF's presence and support in the mission to aid the Afghan government, especially in the early years, strengthened the legitimacy of the Afghan government. The mission allowed the government to expand its authority beyond Kabul and establish governance structures nationwide. In nation-building efforts, ISAF played a crucial role in supporting Afghanistan's political development and institution-building. It helped establish democratic processes, supported the development of critical institutions such as the Afghan National Army and police forces, and contributed to the country's political progress. Regarding international participation, ISAF brought together a multinational coalition of countries through its diverse composition and NATO leadership, fostering international collaboration in addressing issues in Afghanistan. The mission served as a platform for diplomatic engagement and coordination among participating countries, influencing global political dynamics. During the transition to Afghan control, ISAF's goal was to transfer security responsibilities to the Afghan government gradually. The mission aimed to enhance the capacity of Afghan security forces and eventually enable them to take control. This transition demonstrated the mission's political significance, showcasing the Afghan government's ability to assume control and reduce dependence on international forces. However, ISAF faced challenges and controversy in the security environment. The presence of ISAF as a peacekeeping force experienced difficulties and controversies with political consequences. Incidents such as civilian casualties strained the relationship between the Afghan government and ISAF forces. 


The perception of foreign occupation fueled anti-government sentiments and contributed to the growth of insurgent groups. Despite ongoing conflicts, efforts were made to initiate peace talks and negotiations with insurgent groups with ISAF's support. It is important to note that the political impact of ISAF on the arena changed over time and was influenced by numerous factors. The situation in Afghanistan remained complex, with positive and negative outcomes stemming from the mission's presence. Alongside ISAF's activities, negative results were also witnessed, such as allegations of human rights abuses committed by units under ISAF military training, especially Afghan commanders in areas taken from the Taliban. Additionally, there were 330 cases of hearings related to misconduct and crimes, including abuse of duty and killings of detainees by American personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The mission concluded in 2014 with the transition to the Resolute Support Mission, which focused on providing training, advice, and assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) after ISAF's combat role ended.


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