Afghanistan: May 26, 2002


Interim Afghan leader Karzai appears to have rounded up enough support to make him the leading candidate for the first elected Afghan leader ever. He has the support of the former king, who has come back saying he does not want to restore the monarchy. Perhaps more importantly, since the king has arrived, it has started raining again in southern Afghanistan, ending years of drought. A coincidence, of course, but to Afghans who have suffered only war and privations since the king was overthrown, a sign worth nothing. Karzai, a Pushtun like the king, has maintained good relations of the non-Pushtuns of the former Northern Alliance (by assuring them that they will have a "fair share" of power in the new government). While Karzai is a tribal leader of a southern Pushtun tribe, he is still considered a city man, and is suspect to many of the rural clans.

Romania has donated 1,000 AK-47s to the new Afghan army. U.S. and allied trainers are rushing to turn recruits into troops and officers for the new, 80,000 man army.

In eastern Afghanistan, pro-Taliban forces continue to launch inaccurate rocket attacks on allied bases in places like Khost province. These attacks may have something to do with the ongoing feud by local warlords, and the appointed (by the interim government) governor over who will really run the province.




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