Inside Afghanistan: The Warlords

Hamid Karzai Afghanistan

With the Taliban gone, the warlords and their commanders are back in Afghanistan, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports. Their ancient loyalties and hatreds have been put aside for now, but not forever.

Reports from Kandahar suggest 20,000 tribal fighters are ready to attack Herat province in the west. The warlord there, Ismail Khan, is said to be ambushing the meager trade convoys in his area.

There is no denying that for now, at least, the U.S. has more or less suffocated Afghanistan's Taliban and al-Qaida problem efficiently and quickly, but there are plenty of problems stacking up in the country.

Not least the fact that there are heavy weapons everywhere, being maintained, they say, just in case they're needed.

European soldiers are patrolling cities, helping to keep Afghan guns off the street, and Prime Minister Hamid Karzai knows that any international aid depends on his ability to create a safe and honest society.

Karzai Interviewed
Click here to read an interview with Hamid Karzai and 60 Minutes II's Dan Rather.
Asked what assurances there are that money won't be skimmed off, he said, "That's a real concern. There have been people who stole money from this country. The economic is in ruins."

But Karzai's fragile country also faces external threats — there are already reports that some commanders have allowed Iranians into the country.

Asked if Russian and Iranian special forces were in the country, General Gary Harrell replied, "I wouldn't lie to you. There are a couple of those guys in there."

President Bush has repeatedly warned Iranian officials not to harbor al-Qaida fighters and not to destabilize the new government.

"This is a country at the crossroads of everyone's interest. If it cannot be sustained as a nation state, the entirety of this very volatile region is up for grabs," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-DE.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and now Russia's interests are about the same thing — grabbing the region's rich raw materials.

Pakistan though, is far more complex. It helped create the Taliban. There are reports that al-Qaida fighters are still hiding in Pakistan's remote regions. And its role as a senior Muslim state, with a nuclear bomb, can never be forgotten.

All three countries continuto forge a toehold in Afghanistan and the international community, which has already pledged more than $4.5 billion to rebuild it, will be watching events closely.

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