Dmitry Litvinovich: The Northern Alliance from within

The military success of the Northern Alliance is making this organization more and more noticeable in the political field. The future of Afghanistan is the centre of this game.

The Northern Alliance was set up as a military opposition to the Taliban movement. The goal of the movement is to liberate Afghanistan to the Talibs. The soldiers of the Northern Alliance are the ethnic Uzbeks, Tajiks, living in Afghanistan. The organization has close links with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Russia.

Moscow has an immense influence on the military policy of the region: the Russian soldiers are guarding the borderline between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Russia, as it is well-known, is in the opposition to the Taliban movement.

The Northern Alliance has received the military help from Russia and Iran. For the time being, the Afghan opposition has an opportunity to get big help from the USA as well.

According to the independent Russian analysts, the Russian general headquarters is carefully watching the development of the relations between the spokesmen of the overthrown President Rabbani, the Pentagon officials and the US Department of State. On the one hand, the Northern Alliance forces have shown resistance to the Taliban because of the Russia’s help – owing to the weapons, ammunition delivered from Russia.

Before the events, which happened on September 11, the Northern Alliance did not have any contacts with the USA at all. Afghani President Rabbani repeatedly said that: “After the Soviet troops had left Afghanistan, America completely forgot about our country. They did not accept the mujahid government on the diplomatic level, they did not render the humanitarian aid to the population, which suffered from the war. They established the Taliban movement instead under Pakistan’s disguise, started providing it with the weapons in order to get rid of the mujahid superiority. America has to realize that it can not do without Russia’s help. The Northern Alliance is the only way to put an end to the Taliban and to restore peace in the region. We are waiting for cooperation from the USA in this respect, for the humanitarian aid, which is necessary to get for recreating Afghanistan. I sent a letter about this to the American president, but we have not had any negotiations on the matter. America has not rendered any support to us with the exception of the resumed diplomatic relations.”

Rabbani is rather pessimistic towards Afghanistan’s former king Zahir Shah. “Any citizen of Afghanistan, living abroad, gas a right to return to the motherland. The former king is not an exception. Anyway, he will not be able to return as the king – only the people of Afghanistan can decide, who will be ruling the country. The future of the country depends on the decision, which must be taken by the people of this country. We have been standing for democracy and free elections.”

Opposition leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was certainly the political and the military leader of the Northern Alliance. His influence on this organization was enormous. His death will surely have a very negative affect on the general political and military situation. The problems may come up within the Alliance, which are likely to result in in the weakening of the anti-Taliban organization. There is hardly a figure in the anti-Taliban administrative board, capable of conducting negotiation with the Americans on equal terms.

There are about 12 factions within the movement of mujahid. After Massoud’s death the competition between those factions and within them became really tense.

Massoud’s successor is general Muhammad Fahim, 44, who participated with Massoud in many military operations. He was one of the most noticeable military commanders during the opposition to the Soviet troops. However, this general can not be considered as a very good substitute to Massoud.

Another relevant figure in the anti-Taliban administration is Burhanuddin Rabbani – the political leader and the formal head of the Northern Alliance. He is also the leader of Jamiat-e-Islami - the largest political party, included in the Alliance. In 1992 the mujahid executive committee appointed him for the position of the president of the Islamic council for the period of one year. However, he remained on that position till 1996 – before the time, when the Taliban seized Kabul. The UN and several countries still consider him to be the Afghani president. He commanded the military units, which total 20 thousand soldiers.

Afghan mujahideen commander Ismail Khan was liberating the city of Gerat (he was the governor of the city) from the Soviet troops, he became a thorn in the side of the communist regime in Afghanistan. Khan threw the Taliban back to Kandagar, but it was not really successful. The Taliban took Gerat under their control and Khan was delivered according to the agreement, achieved in 1997. He escaped three years afterwards. Ismail Khan is included in the Northern Alliance, but he has not participated in the battles up until now. As it is believed, he gets help from Iran. His location is not known, but there is some information saying he is in Iran, but it was also reported, he was in Afghanistan.

The incumbent Foreign Minister of the Northern Alliance Abdullah and Afghanistan's U.N. ambassador, Ravan Farhadi should also be mentioned in this respect, but these two figures are not that relevant in comparison with the ones, mentioned above.

All these people can become the leaders of the Northern Alliance. The major candidacy is Mohammad Fahim, the leader of the Jamiat-e-Islami faction. However, he has at least one competitor within the faction, not to mention other factions. At last, there is no consent within the Northern Alliance pertaining to the extent of the foreign interference in it. This may certainly become a stumbling block for the Northern Alliance.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

AP photo: Afghan northern alliance fighters cheeer as they ride a tank through Afghanistan's capital Kabul, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2001

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