Afghanistan: September 22, 2001


 The Taliban say they shot down an American UAV in northern Afghanistan. The pilotless aircraft may have come from Uzbekistan, where US military aircraft are known to be operating. European and UN diplomats and representatives of Afghan factions are visiting with the deposed 86 year old king of Afghanistan (Mohammed Zahir Shah). A Russian backed coup in 1973 sent the king into exile while a disgruntled cousin took over the government. This led to more coups and Russian intervention in 1979. The king was well liked, still respected by many within Afghanistan, and favored a constitutional monarchy. One power the king retains is the ability to call the Loya Jirga (General Assembly of Tribal leaders). A centuries old tradition allows only the king to do this, and only for the purpose of forming a new government or making major changes in the way the country is run. Calling a Loya Jirga won't work, however, as long as Taliban forces occupy most of the country. Even if that control is weak in many areas, it would be strong enough to prevent many key people from attending the Loya Jirga. And a Loya Jirga doesn't work unless you get most of the key Afghan leaders to attend. In the past, the Taliban has refused to allow a Loya Jirga. In the north, Taliban forces are counterattacking Northern Alliance troops. The UAE (United Arab Emirates) has severed relations with the Taliban government, leaving only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan recognizing the Taliban.


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