NEW WAR IS POSSIBLE IN AFGHANISTAN

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The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end. A few cities remain in the north (Konduz) and south (Kandahar) of the country that the Talibs are trying to hold. Meanwhile, they are obviously doomed. Along with this, contradictions are growing inside of the anti-Talib coalition itself and among Afghan leaders, and UN and military contingents were sent to Afghanistan as peacekeepers.

According to competent sources in the Western mass media having objective information from Afghanistan, in the northern part of Afghanistan in the area of Mazar-e Sharif, Uzbeks and the Hazara are dividing power. Uzbek generals Rashid Dostum and Atta Muhammad and the leader of the Hazara Ustad Mohaqiq divided the city into three parts. Tajik forces are traditionally in the northeastern provinces and in the Panjer Valley, including the territory near its entrance like the Bagram air base and Kabul.

Another commander of the Northern Alliance, Iranian-speaking Ismail Khan, settled in Herat and established control over three Western provinces. Initially he attempted to attack Kandahar, but leaders of the Northern Alliance stopped him on time willing to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts, because the majority of the population in Kandahar is Pashtuns. The leader of the so-called Eastern Shura Pashtun Hadzhi Abdul Kadyr became the governor of Jalalabad and controls the situation in the area.

Meanwhile, leader of Islamic Party of Afghanistan Golbuddin Hecmatiar, who is currently in emigration in Iran, also claims the power in Afghanistan. It is reported that he is going to seize control over the Charasib base located 25 kilometers to the Northeast of Kabul. The News newspaper reported this on Tuesday. According to its information, Hekmatyar ordered his allies living in emigration in Peshawar to return to Afghanistan and to negotiate with the field commanders to take the base under their control. Thus, the Islamic Party of Afghanistan, which has been the most influential party in the world, is going to take part in the division of power in the country as a real military and not only political force, adds the News.

There are also contradictions among the leaders of the Northern Alliance. Junus Kanuni, Hazara and Shi’a, who is the Interior Minister, disagree with the dominance of the Tajiks in the police and plan to organize their own security forces. Shi’a is against a foreign military presence and recently announced that the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan is unacceptable. He explains that only Special Forces, taking part in capturing of Osama bin Laden in the southern provinces, may be present in the country. Kanuni claims the role of leader conducting negotiations about an organization of the post-war government.

Thus, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo Tsusin, in Kabul Kanuni held consultations with Francesc Vedrell, spokesperson for the UN General Secretary, about the ways to organize the new government in Afghanistan. He agreed that consultations about the government should be held in one of the European countries. Kanuni adds that according to the agreement achieved with the UN, in Europe consultations will be dedicated to the organization of a provisional council with participation of representatives of various political forces, ethnic groups and provinces of Afghanistan. They have to prepare a scheme for organization of a government that receives the people’s support. The minister did not name the date when the consultations would begin in Bonn. According to him, “They will be held in the near future.”

Thus, there are evident contradictions. First, the leaders of the anti-Talib coalition started the struggle for power. Second, they do not want a foreign military presence in the country, although the UN insists on this evidently being afraid that humanitarian aid will be stolen. Third, there is no unity in the international community. The US and its allies on the one hand, and Russia, Iran and Tajikistan on the other hand, began their own struggle for influence on ethnic and social Afghan groups.

The West is going to achieve its goals through a military presence in Afghanistan. At least ten countries already announced their wish to send their own military contingents to Afghanistan. The US, UK, Turkey and France already have their own military contingents in the country and are going to reinforce them.

What will happen in the near future? Will the NATO peacekeepers be a kind of occupants in Afghanistan like it happened to the Soviet Forces there between 1979 and 1989? Many countries including Russia are currently concerned about these issues. Speaking about a relatively near future in Afghanistan on November 17, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that it was too early to celebrate victory. “The current euphoria in the West is ungrounded. The Talibs did not disappear and will probably turn to guerrilla tactics, will organize ambushes and explosions,” said Ivanov. Thus possible peacekeepers will have hard times in this country. Not only the Talibs but also some other ethnic groups may be hostile towards them.

Meanwhile, an analysis of operations of the US and its allies in Afghanistan reveals their wish to stay in this country for a long time. They also wish to establish their presence in other Central Asian countries, primarily in Uzbekistan. American and Turkish military specialists will restore the former military airfield near Karshi. They are also arranging a military base in Mazar-e Sharif. French specialists joined them on November 17. Germans will be the next. According to American plans, military airfields in Mazar-e Sharif and Bagram will be the main strongholds of NATO forces in Afghanistan. It is difficult to say what will be the legal basis for this. Bagram is a place where influence of Rabbani and Tajik clans is strong. They will hardly let the UK or any other Western country to be master of the airfield.

However, it is evident that a military base of NATO may be arranged in Mazar-e Sharif populated by the Uzbeks. According to unofficial information, general Dostum, who is supported by Washington and Tashkent, and whose influence in the Balkh province is very strong, agreed with the “peacekeeping” plans of NATO to upgrade the military airfield in Mazar-e Sharif.

Thus, the unfinished combat operations against the Talibs already raised the issues related to organization of a coalition government in Afghanistan and the presence of international military contingents there. Russia, Iran and other allies of Moscow in the internal dialog in Afghanistan (primarily Tajikistan, China and India) are very cautious about these problems, unofficially stating support for the Northern Alliance, which entered Kabul and retained a political initiative associated with development of principles for the post-war governance of the country. However, it is possible that large Pashtun tribes may rise against the Northern Alliance. These tribes may wish to restore their influence in the central provinces of the country and primarily in Kabul.

So far it is difficult to say whether Americans will be able to influence the Pashtuns, although through bribing they will evidently be able to win sympathies of some Pashtun leaders. At any rate, it is too early to say that the US alone will dominate in Afghanistan. So far the Pashtuns, who suffered from American bombing most of all, have been hostile to the US and other Western countries. They also have a cautious attitude to leaders of the Northern Alliance. It is possible that discontent parties may appear after negotiations about division of power in Afghanistan, and struggle for the spheres of influence may turn into armed combat again. This time this will be a war among ethnic clans.

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