Afghanistan: February 6, 2002


The interim government has its hands full trying to placate the various clans and families who lay claim to the same leadership positions. Some groups have long time local ties, and kept their heads down during the Taliban years. Other families resisted the Taliban and had to flee. In still other cases, the government is trying to provide good jobs for warlords from another area. Most regions of Afghanistan have always resisted having the central government appoint local governors. But without control over provincial governors, the central government would see another independent minded warlord arise. Historically, the ability of the government to arbitrate these local disputes determined how stable the nation would be. Sending troops from the capital was always considered the last and worst option. Taking sides once a local dispute reached the gunfire stage simply gets the central government a long term enemy. The temptation to pass out foreign aid as consolation prizes in these local disputes will be tremendous. Indeed, the local contenders with the weaker case will expect a chunk of foreign aid if they don't win first prize. Indeed, promises of stolen foreign aid may already have been made in order to buy loyalty as quickly as possible. 


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