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Afghans wary of Karzai dealings

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    13 killed in Afghanistan ... ISLAMABAD, June 2: As many as eight Taliban fighters and at least five soldiers died in heavy clashes in Afghanistan late Tuesday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6 1:30 PM
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      13 killed in Afghanistan
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      ISLAMABAD, June 2: As many as eight Taliban fighters and at least
      five soldiers died in heavy clashes in Afghanistan late Tuesday,
      the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on Wednesday......(DPA)

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top12.htm&date=20040603

      ============
      U.S.-led forces kill 17 Taliban in Afghanistan:

      U.S.-led forces backed by warplanes killed 17 militants in the
      mountains of southern Afghanistan, the American military confirmed
      today, the bloodiest battle with Taliban-led insurgents in almost a
      year.
      http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/headline/world/2609428

      =============
      Four Afghans killed in raid by Taliban guerrillas:

      http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/custom/attack/bal-
      te.afghan31may31,0,7181630.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

      May 31, 2004

      KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Taliban guerrillas riding in a fleet of
      vehicles shot up a government office in southern Afghanistan, killing
      four Afghan soldiers, an official said yesterday. One gunman also was
      killed.

      The suspected Taliban militiamen swept into Musa Qala, a market town
      150 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul, late Saturday and opened
      fire on the government office with assault rifles and heavy machine
      guns, the mayor, Mullah Amir Aghunzada, said.

      Four of the 30 soldiers defending the compound were killed, and eight
      others were wounded, Aghunzada said. One Taliban fighter was also
      killed and four were captured, three of whom were wounded.

      In an update on four U.S. deaths Saturday, an Army spokeswoman said
      the four American soldiers died about 20 miles east of Qalat, the
      capital of southeastern Zabul province.

      "An explosive device detonated under the [Humvee] the four were
      traveling in," spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michele DeWerth said. She gave no
      further details.

      An Afghan government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
      said the Humvee hit a mine in Zabul's mountainous Sorie district.

      The toll was one of the worst for a single attack on the U.S.-led
      coalition force since it entered Afghanistan to topple the Taliban
      for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

      Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun

      ====================
      Police officer killed in Kabul :

      A police officer was killed as unidentified gunmen attacked his car
      in the capital citylast night, a spokesman of Interior Ministry said
      Monday
      http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-05/31/content_1500258.htm

      ===================
      Afghans wary of Karzai dealings
      President Karzai is alleged to have given cabinet posts to warlords
      in exchange for support in upcoming vote. By Scott Baldauf
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0601/p06s02-wosc.html


      VOTE: Observers worry that a back-room deal could spoil positive
      election momentum, including the participation of women as shown in
      this poster.
      EMILIO MORENATTI/AP


      KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The elections in Afghanistan are still months
      off, but recent dealings between top power brokers have fed a growing
      perception among ordinary Afghans and Western diplomats alike that
      the result is a foregone conclusion.
      Over the past few weeks, President Hamid Karzai - lauded by the US
      government as a defender of democracy - has held a series of meetings
      with top military commanders famous for their defeat of Soviet forces
      and for running a murderous four-year government after that.
      Presidential spokesmen call the talks an effort at ensuring a stable
      election process, free of intimidation. Critics - and even the
      commanders themselves - say the talks were about something else, a
      deal to promise key cabinet posts to warlords in exchange for their
      support of President Karzai's candidacy.


      The unwitting appearance of an inside deal with hated warlords is
      bringing back old cynicism here about politics, and is sending
      signals that Afghanistan may not be heading toward a peaceful,
      progressive future after all.

      "People will regard this as a hidden deal, and a hidden deal at this
      juncture would not be good for the country," says Wali Masood,
      brother of the former Northern Alliance supreme commander Ahmed Shah
      Masood. "If you want to start a democracy, you go to the public with
      a team and an agenda, and let's see if the people vote for you or
      not."

      Free elections had been touted as the turning point where ordinary
      Afghans could start to map their own future. That was the idea at
      least when Afghan leaders and UN mediators met in Bonn in December
      2001 to decide on a political blueprint for the war-torn nation.

      The latest round of talks between Karzai and the commanders was
      Wednesday night. They could not be happening at a worse time, says
      one Western diplomat. "People are motivated by this election. The
      number of registered voters is increasing, the number of women voters
      is increasing and higher than expected," he says. "But now, there is
      a fear among people, and they need reassurance that they are not
      being taken for a ride."

      What makes all this more confusingis that all the participants of
      these talks have a different view of what has been decided.
      Mujahideen commanders, for instance, say they have been promised 50
      percent of the cabinet posts, including the most important ministries
      of interior, defense, justice, and finance. Karzai spokesmen insist
      that there is no "deal," except that the commanders agree to support
      the election process and Karzai's candidacy.

      "It's not a negotiation, really," says Javed Luddin, presidential
      spokesman. "The commanders said they thought they would rather
      support the president, ... and stand alongside the president rather
      than against him."

      Mr. Luddin says that jihadi commanders - including Abdul Rab Rasool
      Sayaaf, Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim, Vice President Rashid
      Dostum, Herat Governor Ismail Khan - tried to unify behind a single
      candidate of their own to confront Karzai, but could not set aside
      personal rivalries to compromise on a single candidate.

      "Elections should be a unifying step rather than a dividing step,"
      adds Luddin. "If these forces felt left outside or feel threatened as
      they face inevitable defeat, they could resort to a dangerous
      agenda," including armed rebellion.

      Commanders have different story

      But sources close to the commanders say that it was Karzai who came
      to them, and who agreed to give half of the cabinet posts to former
      mujahideen.

      "In my view, Karzai has lost the trust of the people," says Abdul
      Hafiz Mansour, a member of a party allied with the commanders. "Mr.
      Karzai [has] tried to have power in his hands. We don't want only one
      person to have power. We want our country to have power."

      And far from voicing support for Karzai, Mansour says the commanders
      demanded that Karzai fire some Afghan expatriate "technocrats,"
      including the ministers of finance and interior. The commanders also
      demanded that the government stop calling them "warlords" and
      stop "working against the rules of Islam." Mansour adds, "They
      haven't mentioned they would support Karzai in the election at all."

      Western community wary

      For the time being, Western diplomats and UN representatives have
      avoided commenting, but privately some diplomats voice concern that
      the process of democracy could be derailed by the impression of a
      backroom deal.

      Vikram Parekh, senior analyst for the nonprofit International Crisis
      Group, says the big problem is that any deal could have a
      destabilizing effect because inevitably somebody will be left out.

      "Somebody is going to feel shortchanged," says Mr. Parekh. "I don't
      think that we ever had a chance of a free and fair election here,
      certainly not in the absence of a trained national police force,
      without adequate peacekeepers in the provinces, without international
      monitors in the provinces."

      "The best we could expect was the veneer of legitimacy," adds
      Parekh. "But now the cynicism of the people is tremendous."

      =================
      US aircraft bomb southern Afghanistan
      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      KABUL, May 29: American aircraft bombed southern Afghanistan for the
      second time this week after two US soldiers were injured in a clash
      near the border with Pakistan, the US military said on Saturday.

      The American troops were wounded in a firefight on Thursday night
      near Shkin in the border region, US military spokesman Lieutenant
      Colonel Tucker Mansager told a press conference in Kabul.

      "We had two coalition casualties in the engagement that led up to us
      using ordnance down there," Col Mansager said.

      The clash and bombardment took place in rough terrain about 230
      kilometres south of Kabul in Paktika province.

      It was the second time this week the 20,000-strong US-led coalition
      has called in an air strike in southern Afghanistan.-AFP

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top14.htm&date=20040530

      =================
      Taliban fighters killed in US raid:

      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F713FCBB-062D-45B2-B997-
      1A1CBCA4392A.htm
      Tuesday 25 May 2004, 22:46 Makka Time, 19:46 GMT


      Taliban continue to resist Western forces in the country

      At least 20 suspected Taliban fighters have been killed in US air
      strikes in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials have said.


      The US military in Kabul could not confirm the attacks on Tuesday. If
      confirmed, the losses would be among the largest suffered in a single
      battle by the Taliban.

      In June last year, 40 Taliban and seven Afghan soldiers were reported
      killed in clashes in the south of Afghanistan, although no US
      aircraft were involved.

      Khan Muhammad, a corps commander in the southern city of Kandahar,
      said Afghan forces had been engaged in fierce clashes with suspected
      Taliban near the town of Spin Boldak, which lies on the Pakistani
      border.

      'Air support'

      "There has been fighting going on between Afghan forces and the
      Taliban," he told Reuters. "They called in US support."


      Taliban had harboured al-Qaida
      fighters blamed for 11 September

      He said 20 Taliban had been killed and that fighting continued. A
      second Kandahar official, who asked not to be named, said at least 28
      Taliban had died.

      A spokeswoman for the 20,000-strong US-led force in Afghanistan
      hunting remnants of the Taliban militia ousted by a US invasion in
      2001 said she had no comment on the report.

      "For security reasons, we can't disclose any details," she said.

      Taliban had harboured al-Qaida fighters believed to have been behind
      the September 2001 attacks on the US. They continue to resist Western
      forces in the country and the US-backed government.

      More than 700 people have died in violence in Afghanistan since
      August, most of it involving clashes with fighters.

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