Monday, September 22, 2003

NEWS ROUND-UP: According to some news reports (no link yet), Hamid Karzai has set an October 15-deadline for warlords "disarm, demobilize and reintegrate" warlords, including Ismail Khan (Herat), Abdul Rashid Dostum (Mazer-e-Sharif) and Gul Agha Sherzai (Kandahar). Apparently, this move and his alleged "re-shuffle" are just part of the first stage of reforming and restructuring the Afghan government. I vaguely remember a National Security Council (yes, Afghanistan has one) decision on May 20th that basically said the same things about warlords' private fighters. Karzai will leave tomorrow, Tuesday, for visits to Great Britain, Canada and the United States. According to the UN-sponsored Bonn agreement, "participants [including the Northern Alliance] in the UN Talks on Afghanistan pledge to withdraw all military units from Kabul and other urban centers or other areas in which the UN mandated force is deployed." This, of course, never happened. Tanks are seen all over Kabul and Defense Minister Fahim's Northern Alliance fighters form a police force together with the peacekeeping force. They love rob taxi-drivers and shopkeepers, arrest political opponents and arrest critical journalists. (Recently, the Kabul police chief--an ally of [Defense Minister] Fahim and [Education Minister] Qanuni--was fired. I extensively wrote about it here.)

Newsday has a decent article on the steady progress being made in Kandahar, the Taliban's former capital. Good news amid the troubling reports that are heard almost daily.

More good news: the U.S. military has confirmed the death of two senior Taliban commanders; Mullah Abdur Rahim and Mohammad Gul Neyazi. Both were staging anti-coalition attacks from just area known was Waziristan, where there's staunch Pashtun support for the Taliban. Rahim was rumored to be dead for a week now and was wounded in February of this year. Mullah Omar appointed Mullah Abdus Samad, a former "intelligence officer," to help him.

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