Monday, March 22, 2004

SHEDDING SOME MUCH NEEDED LIGHT ON THE SITUATION: Since our friend David Rhode is in Pakistan, it’s Amy Waldman who clarifies things a bit. Surprisingly enough, Waldman outshines the Washington Post’s Pamela Constable. From today’s New York Times:

While accounts were conflicting over what set off the fighting, officials in Herat in western Afghanistan said it began after a failed assassination attempt against the warlord Ismail Khan, who is also the provincial governor.

Mr. Khan's son, Mir Wais Sadeq, the minister of civil aviation for the central government, was killed as he led an advance on the headquarters of a government commander whom he blamed for the assault on his father, said Herat's deputy intelligence chief, Abdul Wahid Tawakali.

The Pashto service of the British Broadcasting Corporation said the police, security and counternarcotics chiefs of Herat had also been killed, and the intelligence chief had been wounded, after seven rocket-propelled grenades were fired at Mr. Sadeq's convoy. Officials reached by telephone in Herat, however, said the police chief had not been killed.

Troops loyal to Mr. Khan surrounded the home and headquarters of the commander they deemed responsible for the attack, Zaher Naibzadah, and his brigade on Sunday night, and fighting was continuing. Reports that as many as 100 people had been killed were unconfirmed.
The mystery surrounding Zaher Naibzadah (whose name can be spelled in dozens of different ways) seems to be solved too.
[Foreign Ministry Spokesman] Mr. Samad said Mr. Naibzadah had been appointed corps commander by the central government six or seven months ago, although other accounts said he was only a brigade commander. … He returned in triumph — with the help of Mr. Naibzadah — in November 2001, and proclaimed himself emir, along with governor and corps commander, in Herat. Both men are members of Jamaat-e-Islami, a hard-line religious party.
This certainly isn’t the end of the story. Naibzadah yesterday claimed that Hamid Karzai had called him and assured him that he had the right to defend himself. It appears that Naibzadah has left town and doesn’t have any plans to be return to Herat any time soon.

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