- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

BONN British and French troops already in Afghanistan may be called on to provide some security in Kabul for a new interim government.
This emerged late last night from U.N. sources as exhausted Afghan delegates were literally locked in final talks to settle the composition of an interim administration for their war-torn country.
"We're not letting them out till they agree on who's running their country," said a U.N. official.
A formal signing ceremony is expected at midmorning with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder flying in to preside over the historic event.
Still to be decided is what sort of international security force will be deployed.
According to U.N. spokesman Ahmed Fawzi, "forces presently in Afghanistan," meaning American, British or French, could be assigned to protect the new councilors.
The new leader of the 29-person council has been almost unanimously agreed to be U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai.
His likely selection was reported in The Washington Times last weekend.
He is an English-speaking member of the largest ethnic group, the Pashtun, a former deputy foreign minister and a relative of the ex-king, Mohammed Zahir Shah.
Together with a small fighting force, the anti-Taliban leader recently penetrated substantial chunks of southern Afghanistan, and with U.S. help, successfully escaped capture.
Mr. Karzai and his small fighting force are likely to be in the thick of the final battle for Kandahar.
Mr. Karzai sent his brother to represent him at the talks in Bonn.
The Northern Alliance has been allocated 11 of the 29 seats on the council, including the key ministries of defense, foreign affairs and security.
However, once the ex-king convenes the loya jirga, or grand council of tribal leaders, a new authority may be set up, leading to an 18-month transition to democracy capped by nationwide elections.
That is how things are supposed to happen. On the ground things may not move quite so smoothly, diplomats cautioned.
One move welcomed by Western states is the intended appointment to the council of a woman, Amena Afzali, a Northern Alliance delegate from the western Afghan city of Herat. Her husband died in battle as a member of the mujahideen. She ran a women's self-help organization in her home city but had to flee the country when the Taliban took power.
The new authority would be a temporary step until the U.N. Security Council approves an official security presence and sends in soldiers.
At that stage it would be expected that the present rulers of Kabul would withdraw their forces from the city.
That is seen here as a delicate maneuver in that these soldiers provide military muscle for the U.N.-recognized regime headed by President Burhanuddin Rabbani and his predominantly Tajik colleagues.
The fighters moved in to the city, while Uzbek and Tajik fighters stayed outside, in defiance of a deal with the United Nations, citing the need to restore order.
Mr. Rabbani is still insisting that his men can protect the new council and do not need international peacekeepers. Most other Afghan groups, and most of the world, disagree.
Nevertheless, the language used in annexes to the treaty is gentle. It talks of "assistance in the maintenance of security for Kabul and its surrounding areas."
U.N. representatives said that the real intention is contained in a clause urging the United Nations "in recognition of the heroic role played by the mujahedin in protecting the independence of Afghanistan … to take the necessary measures in coordination with the interim authority, to assist in the reintegration of the mujahedin into the new Afghan security and armed forces."

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