The teams in Bonn

Print edition : December 08, 2001
VAIJU NARAVANE in Koenigswinter,Germany

The Northern Alliance, also known as the United Front (11 delegates)

The alliance was formed after the Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996, and its nominal head is Burhanuddin Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik. Its delegation is led by Interior Minister Yunus Qanooni, a Tajik, and includes Haji Abdul Qadir, the Pashtun governor of Jalalabad and the son of the independent Tajik warlord in Herat, Ismail Khan. Two more Pashtuns, two Uzbeks and two Shiite Hazaras are also in the delegation.

The main components of the Northern Alliance are:

1. The Jamait-i-Islami (Islamic Group) formed in 1973 by Rabbani, then a lecturer at Kabul University. It is backed by Persian-speaking Sunni Muslim Tajiks and Uzbeks, and nominally includes Ismail Khan.

2. The Jumbish-i-Milli Islami (National Islamic Movement), founded in 1991 by General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former communist commander. It is a mainly Uzbek group with its power base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

3. The Hezb-i-Wahdat (Unity Party) and the Iranian-backed coalition of eight Shiite Muslim guerilla groups headed by Karim Khalili. Its heartland is the central Hazarajat region, with bastions in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

4. The Ittehad-i-Islami (Islamic Union). Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf, a Saudi-backed Pashtun and a former Professor of Islamic law at Kabul University, heads the party.

5. The Jamait Shura-i-Nazar (Monitoring Council Group), a military-political organisation formed by Ahmad Shah Masood, the Northern Alliance's former military chief who was assassinated two days before the September 11 attacks. Masood, a Tajik from the Panjsher Valley, was the best-known guerilla commander in the fight against the Soviets in the 1980s.

General Mohammad Fahim has taken over as the Alliance's military chief. A long-time Masood associate, he served as intelligence chief of the Mujahideen government that ruled in Kabul for four years after the collapse of the former Soviet-backed communist government of President Najibullah in 1992.

The Royalists (11 delegates)

This group represents the former King Mohammed Zahir Shah, who has lived in Rome since being ousted in a 1973 palace coup. The 87-year-old Pashtun hopes for a symbolic role in uniting Afghans. His delegation is led by a long-time aide Abdul Sattar Sirat and includes his grandson Mostapha Zahir, long-time aide Hedazat Amin Arsala as well as two women, Sima Wali and Rona Mansuri.

The Peshawar Group (five delegates)

This group is made up mostly of exiled Pashtun tribal leaders favo- ured by Pakistan and headed by Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani, prominent head of a Sufi Islamic sect in Afghanistan.

His son Hamid Gailani, head of the delegation, said on leaving for Bonn that his group backed Zahir Shah as a future leader of Afghanistan. The delegation includes Hafizullah Asif Mohseni, son of the prominent Kandahar Shiite leader Sheikh Asif Mohseni.

The Cyprus Group (five delegates)

This Iran-backed group was launched in the late 1990s as a rival to the ex-king's faction. It is led by Humayun Jareer, son-in-law of the Islamic radical Gulbuddin Hek- matyar who waged a civil war against Rabbani's forces in the 1990s.

The delegation also includes Azizullah Ludin, a former top official of the Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami, one of the largest of the Mujahideen parties that fought the Soviet Union.

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