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The C-I-A Says Power Struggles Among Afghan Warlords Threaten to Push the Country Back into Chaos - 2002-02-21


The Central Intelligence Agency is warning in a classified report that Afghanistan could fall back into violent chaos if steps are not taken to defuse power struggles between rival warlords.

The New York Times cites senior government officials, saying the U-S government believes security can be bolstered by setting up an Afghan army, a national police force and an effective legal system. But it could take many months before the army and police force are in place.

The C-I-A report says civil war is not imminent in Afghanistan, but the potential for it is there if ethnic tensions are not restrained. Security concerns in Afghanistan have been fueled by the recent killing of the Afghan tourism minister in Kabul, a riot at the Kabul stadium and skirmishes between rival militia in Khost.

Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has asked that the nearly four-thousand-strong international security force in Afghanistan be expanded, so that troops can protect other cities in addition to Kabul.

According to the New York Times report, there is disagreement within the U-S government on how to best address the current security vacuum in Afghanistan, with the State Department coming out in favor of enlarging the international security force. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld commented on the report today, saying he thinks it makes sense for Washington to put its time, money and effort into helping Afghans develop a national army. But he said experts are now analyzing the situation, and no decision has been taken yet on the best course of action.

The United States and Britain are taking the lead in training the army, while Germany is to train the police. U-S Major General Charles Campbell arrived in Kabul Monday on a mission to draw up recommendations on how to assemble and train an Afghan national army. He will send a report to the overall commander of U-S military operations in South Asia and the Middle East, General Tommy Franks.

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