Kabul residents fear northern alliance, worry for their safety Kabul

AP, November 11, 2001

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Sitting hunched in a wooden chair outside his bicycle parts store in north Kabul, Saeed Abbas said he feared war would soon land on his doorstep.

Bolstered by their victories in northern Afghanistan and the fall of the key cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat, the opposition is now turning its sights on the capital of this war-shattered country.

"But it remains a fact that from 1992 to 1996, the Northern Alliance was a symbol of massacre, systematic rape and pillage. Which is why we - and I include the US State Department - welcomed the Taliban when they arrived in Kabul. The Northern Alliance left the city in 1996 with 50,000 dead behind it. Now its members are our foot soldiers. Better than Mr bin Laden, to be sure. But what - in God's name- are they going to do in our name?"

The Independent (UK), November 14, 2001
The ruling Taliban have set up checkpoints at most key intersections in the capital, stopping vehicles, searching passengers and looking for possible infiltrators.

``We hear the bombs falling on the front line and now that Mazar-e-Sharif is gone, we know that they will soon be coming here,'' Abbas said Sunday.

Abbas is an ethnic Tajik like the titular head of the northern alliance, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and many of the fighters who make up the anti-Taliban opposition.

However, the prospect of his fellow Tajiks and others in the alliance seizing power in

Kabul again frightens Abbas. He and others remember the bitter infighting, the daily rocket barrages and the constant fear of death that marked the four years when factions now allied against the Taliban ruled Kabul.

From 1992 until the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996, the factions turned the city into a war zone, with each group controlling parts of the urban area. They flattened entire neighborhoods with rockets and mortars, and planted land mines and booby traps across vast areas.

Abbas picked up one of two steel crutches that lay by his side. ``We will need more of these,'' he said.

His left leg is missing above the knee. He stepped on a land mine planted by rival factions.

``I was not a soldier. I was just going from one part of the city to the another, and this happened,'' he said, showing his amputated leg.

President Bush has urged the opposition not to take Kabul before a new, broad-based government could be formed. But some opposition commanders at the front line north of the city were eager to advance.

Early Monday, the opposition claimed it launched attacks along two main roads connecting Kabul with the alliance-held Bagram air base. The attack stalled because of heavy Taliban resistance.

The northern alliance largely represents minority ethnic groups, such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. These ethnic groups dominate the northern half of the country, where the alliance has so far been successful.

The backbone of the Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns, the dominant group nationwide.

``I don't care who is Tajik, who is Pashtun, who is Uzbek,'' Abbas said. ``All I care about is that peace comes to Kabul.''

Abbas' fears are shared by many others in this city of 1 million.

``We have no money,'' said Abdul Ahad, speaking in his threadbare, one-room cement shop in the city's Khair Khana district. ``We can't escape.''

Saeed Ghana stepped into Ahad's knickknack shop and squatted down on the bicycle in one corner. He listened for a while before introducing himself.

These U.S. allies are rapists. As early as 1996, the U.S. State Department's own report on human rights in Afghanistan concluded that the forces led by (the now lionized) Ahmed Shah Massoud systematically raped and killed Hazzara women in Kabul in March 1995: "Massood's troops went on a rampage, systematically looting whole streets and raping women." Since their return to power, Northern Alliance forces have returned to their old habits...

Gary Leupp, CounterPunch.org, July 16, 2002

``I was a pilot,'' he said. ``Now I am a porter.'' Ghana said he flew Russian-made MiG-21s for the pro-communist government during the Soviet occupation of

Afghanistan. He wears several layers of clothing to protect himself from the cold all of them tattered and worn. He laughs when he talks about his job.

``I should have run away when I could. I didn't, and now I can't,'' he said in a resigned voice.

``Fighting has created a desert in this country. One leader is the same as another,'' Ghana said. ``The people are not important, only power.''

A half-dozen men who have gathered all shake their heads in agreement. They are all wearing the long, unkempt beards demanded by the Taliban. The day ischilly, about 10 degrees centigrade (50 degrees fahrenheit). They are wrapped in traditional woolen shawls.

The conversation eventually turns to Osama bin Laden, accused by the United States of orchestrating the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Bush ordered airstrikes on Oct. 7 after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden and shut down his al-Qaida network.

``We think that what happened there in America is very sad. We know that they must be very angry,'' said Shaft Allah, a gray-bearded teacher. ``But we don't know where Osama is. We don't know how can they get Osama.''

Abdul Kabir, who clears unexploded ordnance from the city, said he has little hope for peace.

``We have nowhere to go and no one who will bring an end to all our suffering,'' Kabir said as he browsed through used household items such as chipped plates and a bundle of forks tied with an elastic band. ``Our stomachs are empty, our children have no future. What is left for us?''

h t t p : / / w w w . r a w a . o r g