an area of the map for world news.
January 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 1)
to the War in Afghanistan
Winiarski, Dagens Nyheter (liberal), Stockholm, Sweden,
Oct. 15, 2001
have to go far from the Tajik capital to find cracks in the
U.S.-led coalition against terrorism. President Emomali Rakhmonov
declared his willingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism
and also promised to offer air bases for the American military.
But behind the official façade, there is an undercurrent
of anger over what is happening over the heads of the population.
While Western, high-tech forces bomb a stone-age country back
to prehistory, the Afghans kinsmen here in Tajikistan
are concerned that it looks mostly like innocent civilians are
In little Luchob, a few miles outside Dushanbe, it looks about
the same as it does in Afghanistan, on the other side of the
1,300-kilometer border. This is a typical kishlaka Tajik
villagewith roughly 1,000 inhabitants. Peasants work their
garden plots. A cow stumbles forward in a ditch. Boys and girls
play in the gravel. A few men are talking to each other on a
street corner. In contrast to Afghanistan, the women do not
For five days, the United States and its allies have maintained
their bombing campaign in Afghanistan, and with very few exceptions,
people in Luchob are condemning the war.
The United States is totally doing the right thing; all
terrorism must be fought and Osama bin Laden must be completely
defeated, says a man who does not want to give his name.
He admits that most of his neighbors would not agree with him.
Many people I talk to feel that the United States is engaged
in meaningless bloodshed. Someone says that the Afghan people
are innocent and are being made to suffer because the Taliban
has taken the population hostage. Another person worries that
Tajikistan, which also suffered a bloody civil war a few years
ago, could be drawn into the conflict.
Of course I am against this war, says Habibullo
Sadikov, an old man who was a part of the Great Patriotic War
(1941-45), when he fought against Germany.
Certainly, I cant be bothered with the Taliban and
Bin Laden. They should be rooted out immediately, but war
Iskander, a young teacher and assistant principle at the village
school is also afraid of a repeat of the Tajik civil war, which
lasted from 1992-97 between Communists loyal to Moscow and Islamists.
The American war, he says, is threatening Muslims, and therefore
all the worlds Muslims will support the Afghans.
I believe that there is strong support for the Taliban
here. This is because they want justice and a pure Islam,
He warns that the Northern Alliance already had power in Kabul
once before. There was chaos and a civil war. The Taliban
came in and created order, albeit with harsh methods. So perhaps
people do not want to have that here; we are not fundamentalists.
Not everyone is as knowledgeable about the war in Afghanistan
as Iskander. Odil Jabarov and Saivally Saidav are two bearded
gentlemen who are completely in agreement on one thing: Those
who have been proved guilty of committing the Sept. 11 crime
should be killed, but why kill innocent Afghan women and children?
Both men are afraid of the wars consequences for Tajikistan.
If it wasnt for the Russian border patrol and the
Russian 201st division stationed here, there would be a risk
that the Taliban would come over the border.
Odil Jaborov invites Dagens Nyheter into his home for green
tea, nuts, and fragrant, warm bread baked with his own grain.
Now we grow everything ourselves, he says. During
Soviet times, there was flour and everything in the shops. I
worked as a geologist and could support my wife and 12 children.
Now my children cannot even support themselves.
It is this poverty that provides the breeding ground for radical
forms of Islam. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the already
poor Central Asian republics became even more desperate, as
a half million Russians, the most educated portion of the population,
emigrated to Russia.
The sun sets quickly behind the green hills, and the falsetto
of the muezzin can be heard calling from the mosque. Inside,
in the semi-darkness, village elders gather together on the
floor for an evening meeting after prayers.
We discussed what is happening in Afghanistan, says
the oldest one, who speaks for the others, and we are
against the U.S. war effort. We support the Afghan people!
None of the men believe that the Taliban is responsible for
the attacks against the United States. They dont even
consider it to be a threat. Why does everyone blame all
the evil in the world on Bin Laden? Neither he nor the Taliban
has the power to do such a thing. Bin Laden is innocentdont