SLUG: 5-52233 CQ Afghanistan Security
TITLE= CQ AFGHANISTAN SECURITY
///// FIXES TO HERAT IN FINAL ACT OF BKG5-52232. /////
INTRO: Factional fighting in southern Afghanistan; an assassination
attempt against President Hamid Karzai; and a bombing that killed more
than two dozen people in Kabul, last week, have raised concerns, in recent
days, about the security situation in Afghanistan. V-O-As Jim Teeple reports
from Kabul many Afghans and international observers are warning that
Afghanistan is becoming a less-stable place.
/// ACTUALITY OF GERMAN POLICE AT CHECKPOINT, UP AND UNDER ///
German troops belonging to the International Security Assistance
force move swiftly through Kabuls busy streets at dusk, conducting spot
identity checks and searching for weapons.
I-S-A-F troops are responsible for security in Kabul. The troops, like the city they patrol, are on edge. Last week, a car bomb killed more than two dozen Afghans. Hours later, President Hamid Karzai narrowly survived an assassination attempt in the southern city, Kandahar.
Najib Joseph Shahabi is a 28-year-old Afghan-American from Palo
Alto, California. Just a few months ago, he moved to Kabul to help run his
familys Aria appliance store on one of the busiest street corners
in Kabul. The car bomb that killed more than two-dozen people blew up
just a few meters from his store slightly injuring Mr. Shahabi. Now, he says it
might be time to return home to California.
/// SHAHABI ACTUALITY ///
I do not know if I am going to stay here, honestly. It is getting
more scarier than it was. Things are not safe anymore. I came to help
my brother with his business, and so, something like maybe start a
business a factory or something with my uncle and stuff, but now I have
kind of changed my mind. I will stick it out for a little bit, but if there
is another explosion, I am gone, I am not going to stay here.
/// END ACTUALITY ///
/// OPT /// Najib Shahabi says the car bomb that shattered the
peace that Kabul has largely enjoyed since the collapse of the Taleban,
also shattered business confidence. He says import orders are down and
other Afghans, who had returned home to help rebuild their country, are
considering leaving. /// END OPT ///
Alex Thier is a former U-N official in Afghanistan who now works as a
consultant with organizations involved in conflict-resolution
efforts. He believes there will be more attacks from extremists possibly
with ties to the Taleban and al-Qaida. He says such groups have
learned they can exploit disatisfaction with the Karzai-led government.
Mr. Thier says -- as bad as the Kabul car bomb attack was -- far more
worrying was the attempt on Mr. Karzais life.
/// THIER ACTUALITY ///
I think there is the potential for the government, as it is now, to
collapse, if Karzai were to be assassinated. I think that Karzai is the
person who retains the legitimacy of this government both in the eyes
of a lot of Afghans but also in the eyes of international community.
I think that Karzais absence would make the legitimacy of this
government disappear completely. Obviously, the danger and the reason
that Karzai may be targeted is that is obvious to anybody. If Karzai
were to disappear from the scene, then you have the potential to
destablize the whole situation.
/// END ACTUALITY //
Alex Thier also says factional fighting of the sort that has erupted in
southeastern Afghanistan, over the past several days, is as dangerous to
Afghanistans stability as the car bomb attack in Kabul and the
assassination attempt against Mr. Karzai.
/// THIER ACTUALITY ///
The greater threat to Afghanistans future is through factional fighting,
at the moment. It is not from the forces that were controlling the
country before, like the Taleban or al-Qaida. The danger is now that you
have (political) fault lines in the north, you have problems in the south. There
was shooting recently in Herat. There are obvious significant ongoing
problems to the south of here, in Gardez and Khost areas. If any of
those conflicts can be pushed to the point where they break out in a
large scale way, it is going to force the international community to
reckon with the seething conflicts that exist in Afghan society, right
/// END ACTUALITY ///
Alex Thier says the remnants of the Taleban and al-Qaida know they will
not be able to retake control of Afghanistan. He says the best they can hope
for is to de-stabilize Afghanistan through factional fighting.
Mr. Thier and others say the challenge for the international community
will be to deploy enough force to prevent a domino effect throughout
Afghanistan -- where factional fighting increases and spins out of
control, leaving an opening for the Taleban and al-Qaida to re-emerge.
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