Kabul has slipped into a nervous tension. Early last week President Hamid Karzai surprised his fellow Afghans and foreign diplomats by choosing to drop Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim from his presidential ticket in favor of Ahmed Zia Masood, the brother of the late Ahmed Shah Masood, a well-respected mujahedin leader. Although a political decision, it immediately set off security concerns: NATO's peacekeeping force was placed on heightened alert in response to fears that Fahim or other angered Northern Alliance leaders might resort to violence against Karzai's central government.
Anxiety was already running high. A series of grisly armed attacks and bombings against foreign workers, U.S. soldiers, Afghan election workers and newly registered voters is testing the country's resolve ahead of the October presidential elections. Indeed, the violence has been bad enough that the international aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres, which had endured two decades of civil war in Afghanistan, announced it was withdrawing from the country. "We are facing severe threats to the state," says Interior Minister Ali Jalali. "And we don't have a lot of time to deal with them."...
Seth G. Jones is an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation.
The remainder of this op-ed can be found at newsweek.com.
This commentary originally appeared in Newsweek on August 9, 2004.