- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 23, 2002

Afghanistan's feuding warlords must be brought into the new national army and security organs if the country is to achieve lasting peace, the Turkish general leading the international peacekeeping force in Kabul said yesterday.
"They have to be inside the process, not outside the process," Maj. Gen. Hilmi Akin Zorlu, commander of the U.N.-sponsored International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told reporters during a visit to Washington.
The Turkish general, whose 6-month assignment as head of ISAF is set to expire next month, said he believes the 4,800-strong, 22-nation force has to remain in the Afghan capital for at least another two to three years.
He gave a generally upbeat account of the security situation in Kabul, but noted that the fledgling national authority of Afghan President Hamid Karzai faces a huge number of challenges.
The relative safety of the capital has attracted 600,000 of the estimated 1.8 million Afghan refugees who have returned to the country following the ouster late last year of the fanatical Taliban regime, straining the capital's infrastructure.
The police and other security organs are still being trained, and ISAF has confiscated "significant numbers of weapons and ammunition," including rockets, bombs, small arms and air-defense systems since it was established a year ago, the general said.
ISAF troops have destroyed 107,000 rounds of ammunition since the beginning of the month.
The general said Afghanistan's official intelligence and security agencies began sharing information in recent months only because of consistent ISAF prodding.
Despite the success of the U.S.-led military campaign against the Taliban and the al Qaeda terrorist operation, Afghanistan remains a highly dangerous place, with the U.N. force headed by Gen. Zorlu only providing security for Kabul, the capital, and for nearby Bagram air base.
Afghan officials in Kabul yesterday said they had foiled an assassination plot against Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim in the heart of Kabul.
An Iraqi Kurd carrying explosives was arrested along the route the defense minister travels to work, and Afghan officials said the suspect was "part of an international terrorist network."
Mr. Karzai barely survived an assassination attempt Sept. 5, the same day a car bomb killed 30 and wounded more than 100 in Kabul. One of his vice presidents, Abdul Qadir, was gunned down in Kabul in broad daylight on July 6.
Mr. Karzai and U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi have scolded the international community for not providing more security as the new government tries to establish itself. Most ominously, violence has broken out between forces of Afghanistan's traditional provincial warlords.


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