< < Back to Start of Article Expand the international force PARIS The first group of 600 recruits for the new Afghan army have completed a six-week course with British trainers. At last, a start. But it is still a very long way from creating an internal force with a chance of even beginning on the security needed to put the country back together.
There are some 4,000 Bristish, German and other soldier in the International Security Assistance Force that is supposed to assure some safety just in the capital, Kabul. Turkey is scheduled to take over command from the Bristish in a few weeks. And there are still American, Canadian and assorted provincial Afghan forces around the country chasing remmants of Al Qaeda and Taliban to wind up the war.
But in the meantime, Tajik fighters from the Northern Alliance brought south to take the capital from the Taliban have been turned loose there, unpaid, unfed, unclothed.
So they are preying on the local people, particularly in the poor suburbs, and the people are praying for the international peacekeepers to take over. In other parts of the country there isn't even a semblance of organized peacekeeping. Everything depends on local warlords and what kind of authority the national leader Hamid Karzai can claim to impose.
If this goes on, it is a flat betrayal of the promises the United States made to Karzai and the organizers of the interim government at the conference in Germany to launch the transition from the defeated Taliban rulers. Plans are to hold a traditional consultative conference representing all segments of the country by this summer, and then for a provisional government to hold elections by 2004.
Karzai, the warlords (even those who are fighting each other), veteran experts on...