As NATO's mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, the future of this troubled country is unclear. Free elections have been held, but armed struggle continues.
NATO has been involved in Afghanistan since 2001, when it joined forces with the Northern Alliance to topple the Taliban government. The Taliban had refused to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
While the Taliban were quickly driven from power, they remain a potent force in Afghanistan, a country that is among the poorest in the world. NATO's mission is now drawing to a close, with many countries withdrawing their troops, ostensibly to leave security in the hands of the Afghan security forces they have been training from 2014 onwards.
Germany's Cabinet has approved a new plan that will see the country reducing the number of troops it has in Afghanistan from about 4,900 at the moment to 3,300 by the end of 2013. The United States is currently contemplating a post-2014 training and counterterrorism mission of 10,000 soldiers. Britain and Italy have not announced conclusive plans for their pull-out, while France has already ended its combat mission.
DW takes a look at the military and political issues surrounding NATO's intervention and the future of Afghanistan.