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SLUG: 5-52233 CQ Afghanistan Security
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE= 09/10/01

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

TITLE= CQ AFGHANISTAN SECURITY

NUMBER=5-52233

BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE

DATELINE= KABUL

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

///// 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.

TEXT:

/// 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

now.

/// 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.

(Signed)

neb/jlt/wd



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