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Afghan Peace Fast Deteriorating

The credibility of US and European promises to help Afghanistan are at stake, as murder and instability rattle the brittle interim government.

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A relative of Abdul Rahman bursts into tears over the murdered Afghan minister's coffin

Exactly what is happening to Afghanistan, behind the many veils of propaganda that competing powers have drawn across the country’s post-war face, is impossible to tell.

But it is neither the merely slow and difficult transition to stable democracy that US and European powers have suggested, nor merely the troubles of under-financing and under-policing of which interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has warned.

Ominously, Karzai acknowledged Friday what many had feared – that the killing of Tourism Minister Abdul Rahman was not the bizarre lynching it was originally reported to be.

Indeed, the facts of that story were sketchy, as DW-WORLD reported.

Plot alleged

Instead, on a day when unrest threatened not only to continue in Afghanistan’s provinces but to strike the capital itself, Rahman was killed in what Karzai now describes as a well-disguised assassination by agents of rivals in the country’s senior leadership.

Information Minister Raheen Makhdoom named the alleged plotters: General Abdullah Jan Tawhidi, political chief for Afghan intelligence, and General Qalandar Beg, deputy defence minister for technical affairs, "an attorney called Halim," and two others, Reuters reported.

But it will be very difficult to unravel the mystery of the killing, which reportedly took place in a crowded scene at Kabul airport. There are no simple ways of verifying Makhdoom and Karzai's allegation, and suspicions could arise that they are using the incident to undermine opponents within the interim government.

Facts, as before, remain very scarce.

Wobbly regime

This is the first sign of major wobbles inside Karzai’s regime, set up with the help of Western governments at a long and arduous diplomatic conference in Germany. Afghanistan’s transition to more stabile elected government, as has been planned, rests on the shoulders of this regime and will have no charted path forward if the interim government fails.

The greater risk, then, is that the stated mission of the United States and its European allies in the "war on terror" may fail in Afghanistan.

In its power vacuum, Afghanistan became a host-nation to terrorists, who flourished during the 1990s and won great influence with the now-deposed Taliban regime.

The September 11 attacks against the United States persuaded US policymakers’ that the world can ill afford such power vacuums, and that powerful allies must prevent their development. But Afghanistan's power vacuum still exists.

Keeping peace in a country accustomed to war is proving extremely difficult business, especially with the International Security Assistance Force located only in Kabul, the capital.

Karzai has requested a broader, more massive deployment of international forces. But while civil unrest and fighting between warlords has restarted outside Kaburl, the leader's pleas have been met mostly with limited agreements to train more Afghan police.

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