The Americans have probably miscalculated while overestimating the Northern Alliance’s role in Afghanistan. Russia could miscalculate as well. Although president Bush has always said that the war on world terrorism would be long and tense, the events in Afghanistan are not developing according to American scenario. US officials recently started to admit they had underestimated the Taliban’s power and overestimated the Northern Alliance’s power. According to the Pentagon’s plans, the Northern Alliance’s forces had to rapidly capture Masar-i Sharif. Afterwards, the Salang pass would be opened, and mountain artery would link Masar-i Sharif with Kabul. One of the tunnel’s ends was exploded on Ahmad Shah Masud’s order, when his units were retreating to block the Taliban. Later, the Northern Alliance forces wanted to attack Kabul again and to take the capital under their control. The “crusade” against the Taliban stalled already at its first stage. The Northern Alliance’s military chiefs underestimated the enemy’s power and hastened to capture Masar-i Sharif as quickly as possible. The first attempt did not turn out well; to prepare the next one, weeks could be spent. The question about the rapid occupation of Kabul was struck from the agenda. According to the alliance’s minister of internal affairs, Kanoni, at first, the northern provinces should be occupied. Afterwards, politicians will agree about temporary government. Russia sees in the Northern Alliance the only ally in Afghanistan and helps it, though, it cannot be excluded for nothing, because the Northern Alliance’ political power seems to be overestimated both by Russia and the US. According to Reuters agency, last weekend, in the Pakistani city Peshavar, more than one and a half thousand elders, military men, and religious leaders of the Afghan people assembled. They demanded a stop to the US bombardments and discussed how they would live after the war. After the war, another war could start, because the people gathered in Pakistan did not even mentioned the Northern Alliance, on which the US and Russia stake their interests. In Peshavar, they appealed for a council with king Zakhir-Shah at its head. At the meeting, they also spoke about the necessity to rapidly summon Loya Djirgi, the traditional Afghan elder council. This council should create a government ruling from demilitarized Kabul under the aegis of the UN and the Islamite Conference Organization. At the Peshavar conference, there were representatives of the Taliban and of other Afghan groups and parties. However, the Northern Alliance was forgotten. Some analysts have already characterized the meeting as the forming of the “Southern Alliance." Representatives of the Pashtoon majority will make up the Southern Alliance. It could become a serious alternative to the Northern Alliance, consisting mainly of ethnic minorities: Uzbeks and Tajiks. It should not be excluded that the Americans will soon choose between the two alliances. Most likely, they will choose the southern one. First of all, the Southern Alliance consists of the ethnic majority. Second, it is supported by Pakistan, on which the US has to rely. Third, the Americans have already understood they had overestimated the Taliban’s northern enemy. Fourth, while supporting the Southern Alliance, Americans can exclude Russia from the play, which would stake only on the Northern Alliance. The US has an alternative, while Russia does not. The Southern Alliance will hardly forgive arm supplies and “moral aid” to the Northern Alliance. In the Southern Alliance, the leading role will belong to Pashtoons living in southern foothills of Gindukush. Behind the scenes, some of them say they do not exclude the Northern Alliance’s participation in the future government. However, they stress the fact that just because someone is at war does not mean that he has the right to power. There are also people who fight in other ways.
Sergei Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/10/29/33216.html