As concern rises over Taliban claims of captured Americans and as pressure builds for a ground offensive against Afghan terrorism, a major opposition group is promising an attack – and “very soon,” according to a prominent Afghan resistance leader.
“The troops are ready” and will coordinate their offensive with U.S. air attacks through “some U.S. experts who are here [in Afghanistan],” according to Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
Rabbani made his remarks at his headquarters during an interview with the Italian news daily Corriere Della Sera.
Said Rabbani, “Il dopo-talebani? L’Afghanistan ha gia un governo, il mio.” (Translation: “After the Taliban? Afghanistan already has a government – mine.”)
Though Rabbani refused to be specific as to the place and time of an attack, the paper earlier reported that an attack could come within a few days. The report cited the remarks of a local Northern Alliance commander, who speculated that the attack could come within days and might center upon Taliban positions around the airport at Bahram.
The attack will be coordinated with U.S. air power by Americans on the ground “among the mujahedin … even if they are still invisible,” according to the Northern Alliance commander.
Northern Alliance forces already hold Bahram, but shelling from nearby Taliban positions make the airport unusable. Observers note that if the facilities at Bahram could be made safe, the U.S. could more easily supply the Northern Alliance as well as establish a formidable presence near Taliban positions.
The Northern Alliance, which is officially known as the United National and Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, has been fighting the Taliban regime since it came to power in the mid 90s, with Rabbani as its leader.
A professor of “Islamic philosophy,” Rabbani led the government that the Taliban overthrew in 1996. Most nations around the world, as well as the United Nations, refused to formally recognize the Taliban regime and continued to recognize Rabbani as the Afghan president.
Denying any “formal cooperation” with the U.S., Rabbani characterized his relationship with Washington as “only dialogue,” which recognized “the necessity of combating terrorism.”
Any U.S. presence in Afghanistan would be temporary, Rabbani stated. He declared his group’s opposition to any permanent U.S. base in his country, as well as the establishment of what he described as a “puppet” government.
The anticipated ouster of the Taliban regime has caused speculation regarding what kind of government would follow the end of the fundamentalist Islamic rule. Various anti-Taliban groups exist and want a share in a new government, including the newly established Southern Alliance, consisting of mostly ethnic Pashtuns, the major tribal group in Afghanistan.
The Taliban – a term meaning “student” – originally came to power pledging to end the civil strife that followed the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989 and the subsequent fall of the Marxist government that Moscow attempted to support.
The Taliban forces replaced Rabbani’s 2-month-old “Islamic State of Afghanistan” with the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
Though he ruled Afghanistan from Kabul, the nation’s capital for only two months, Rabbani is firm in his determination to regain complete control of the country.
When asked if the U.N. should assist in establishing a transition government following the fall of the Taliban, Rabbani replied, “I don’t see the necessity. Afghanistan already has a government, and I am its president.”