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Interview with Ali Jalali - 2002-04-11


MR. BORGIDA:
Now joining us in the studio to discuss the security situation inside Afghanistan, Ali Jalali of VOA's Farsi Service, and a former Afghan Army colonel, with considerable expertise on the security issue in Afghanistan. Ali, thanks for joining us today.

MR. JALALI:
Good to be here.

MR. BORGIDA:
The National Guard, as it were, has been trained in Afghanistan. The hope there is that there might be what I think some optimists are calling a warlord?free country in Afghanistan, with the creation of this National Guard unit and hopefully other security apparatus. What's your take on that? Is that a vision that will never take place, given the role of warlords in Afghanistan, or is this a good start in the security situation inside Afghanistan?

MR. JALALI:
That's a first step. And I would say that it will take a long time until you have a professional army which will be nationally oriented, morally disciplined, professionally skillful, and also operationally cohesive. An army can be armed and an army can be trained in a short time; but in order to make it a cohesive unit, it takes time. That unit, or that army, that organization, should face common challenges, fight together, suffer together, die together; then you make it a cohesive unit which will have loyalty and allegiance to the unit -- professional allegiance -- and to the government, not to personalities.

In other words, you have to see it go through a kind of chemical process rather and physical togetherness.

MR. BORGIDA:
But does Afghanistan have that kind of time to solidify a security situation that some have described as lawless?

MR. JALALI:
Unfortunately that's true, that the time is running out. Here you see a situation where the terrorism is not rooted out in Afghanistan. The coalition forces are fighting pockets of resistance here and there. The security assistance force, ISAF, the International Security Force for Afghanistan, the peacekeepers who are there, there is no intention to expand them, as the government wants, to other cities, and the creation of a national army is a long time away. So, therefore, the situation is very, very difficult in the country. Therefore, Afghanistan needs international attention, international support, at this time, until the national army is operational.

MR. BORGIDA:
The return of the exiled king has been delayed, as you know, largely due to security issues, the fear that he may not be secure if he were to return. Does that just underscore and dramatize how serious the problem is?

MR. JALALI:
I would say that the security situation is not excellent, or not perfect. The former king understands that. But the former king is also ready to take risks. And as he said, he is going to go back to his country. However, a kind of reasonable security should be established there. Now the question is more technical than something of a strategic decision.

MR. BORGIDA:
Should he try to come back as soon as possible?

MR. JALALI:
I think he is. His coming back to Afghanistan will have a major emotional impact, because people in the country beg for him. And his presence in Afghanistan will provide the country with a symbol of unity. I think it is going to have a major impact.

MR. BORGIDA:
Now, the security, in the minute or so that we have left, in and around Kabul appears to be somewhat stable, but there are reports that beyond Kabul it's very bad. Any information on that?

MR. JALALI:
Well, in Kabul the security, as you said, is good. However, in the other areas, it is not the question of security. It is who is in charge. The people who are nominally responsible for security, they have personal allegiances, not allegiance to the government.

MR. BORGIDA:
The views of Ali Jalali, VOA's Farsi Service Chief and a former Afghan Army colonel. Ali, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.

MR. JALALI:
Thank you.

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