- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

KOENIGSWINTER, Germany Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, in control of the capital of Kabul, declared yesterday that it was opposed to relinquishing security to a multinational or U.N. force.
Its hard-line stance was rejected immediately by members of the Hazara ethnic group, one major constituent of the alliance. The alliance is also composed of Tajiks and Uzbeks from the northern part of the country.
Despite the disagreement over security, significant progress was made inside the secluded hilltop Petersberg Hotel toward agreeing to the framework of a provisional multiethnic administration for the war-torn country.
"We don't feel the need for a multinational force," said Yunus Qanooni, officially the lead member of the Northern Alliance, when he addressed journalists on a U.N. ship anchored in the Rhine River. He said there was already "enough security" in Kabul, but should the situation deteriorate a force could be assembled from Afghanistan's own ethnic groups.
Mr. Qanooni, who described himself as the security minister of Kabul under reinstalled President Berhanuddin Rabbani, did not rule out a multinational force in the future, but only once a provisional administration was in place and there had been a gathering of the tribal elders, or loya jirga.
However, advisers to the Hazara ethnic group which controls large chunks of Afghanistan and makes up about one-third of Kabul's population insisted that a multinational force was urgently required to prevent lawlessness, mop up remnants of the Taliban and, above all, prevent one faction from dominating politics.
In exclusive interviews with The Washington Times, the adviser to Mohammed Natiqi, one of 11 Northern Alliance members at the talks, said a multinational or U.N. force now would be a "positive move" that would prevent the risk of factional fighting and a scramble for power breaking out in Kabul's streets as had happened when the Northern Alliance was in charge last time before it was driven out by the Taliban in 1995.
The Uzbeks, another Northern Alliance constituent, also are believed leaning toward the acceptance of a multinational force .
The Uzbek military chief, Gen. Rashid Dostum, rules the northern zone around Mazar-e-Sharif in concert with a Hazara leader, and also does not wish to see Mr. Rabbani's predominantly ethnic Tajik colleagues and military chiefs in charge of the capital.
Hazara forces approaching Kabul from their western heartland claim to have stopped short of the city in compliance with a prior Northern Alliance deal with the United States and the United Nations, only to discover that Mr. Rabbani's forces had taken control inside the city, ostensibly to prevent lawlessness.
There are increasing reports of armed bands and violence around the city and in the large swath of Northern Alliance territory.
U.N. mediators are seeking to encourage the Northern Alliance to accept a multinational force, U.N. spokesman Ahmed Fawzi told The Times. "Our preferred option would be a local security force, but it may well take time, and we know speed is of the essence. We need to secure the city urgently," he said.
He acknowledged, however, that the United Nations had no way of ensuring that its view prevailed. "We're not forcing anything on them we are not going to parachute forces in; we want them to decide. But we propose, they dispose."
An area where U.N. advice apparently is being heeded is the composition of the transitional council to run the country while a loya jirga, comprising 120 to 200 members, is assembled in the capital. The mediators believe they can exercise sufficient persuasion to bring the talks to a successful conclusion by next week.
"We expect this group is going to make real, substantive decisions on the way to run Afghanistan in the interim," Mr. Fawzi told The Times. "There are telephone lines between Kabul and Bonn, and we're using them, so they need only go back to Kabul when we have a firm decision."
Perhaps the most striking communication came on Tuesday. In a satellite phone call beamed to all delegates, Hamid Karzai, a leader of the largest ethnic group, the Pashtun, declared from his southern Afghanistan fiefdom:
"This meeting is a path toward salvation. We stand united, not divided. We are a strong people who would like to assert our will and our sense of self-determination."


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