"the rapid advance of the northern Alliance into Kabul without any international arrangements to safeguard civilians is a clear indication that the military agenda has overtaken human rights concerns. The Afghan population is at the mercy of armed political groups with an appalling human rights record. We have the gravest concerns for the people of Kabul who are now at high risk of reprisal attacks and killings. Those countries that supplied arms to and supported the Alliance are responsible for ensuring that the Alliance conducts itself within international humanitarian law and does not use its arms to commit further abuses. If there is further bloodshed, the blood is also on their hands."
Irene Khan, secretary general, Amnesty International
"Work to establish the all-Afghan (security) force should start as early as possible. It is, however, unlikely that it can be constituted in the near term, suggesting that serious consideration will need to be given to the deployment of an international security presence. Such a presence, provided that it includes adequately trained and armed units ready to defend themselves and their mandate, could ensure security in the major cities. It could preserve the political space in which negotiations toward the resolution of the many problems ahead could proceed."An armed UN peacekeeping force is not recommended. UN peacekeepers have proven most successful when deployed to implement an existing political settlement among willing parties -- not to serve as a substitute for one. Any security force established in the absence of a credible ceasefire agreement or political settlement, whether constituted by Afghans, international personnel or both, could quickly find itself in the role of combatant. This is not a role for "Blue Helmets.'
"Without a credible security arrangement, however, no political settlement can be implemented."
Lakhdar Brahimi, special representative of the United Nations secretary general for Afghanistan (briefing to the Security Council, November 13)
"We all operate on a very western timeline. (The Taliban) don't. They think in millennia. This is just a temporary setback a battle. My only word of caution is that it took the Soviets 24 hours (to occupy Kabul) and they were also greeted with flowers as liberators, and a year later they were fighting. It's a tough society to govern."
Ilana Kass, professor of military strategy, National War College (Washington, DC)
"Now the Northern Alliance, and by definition the coalition, may have won a battle but could lose the war if the transition period is not well handled. A leader from the Pashtun community needs to emerge, acceptable both to the Northern Alliance and to the coalition. The United States-led coalition could find itself in a situation analogous to the Soviet Union's, which also took all the cities but lost the war."
Elliot Tepper, professor of political science, Carleton University"
The U.S. (even this administration, which is strange) understands that the UN has to be the vehicle and the U.S. doesn't have the means to negotiate with the Afghan parties to come up with this consensus. It has to be supported by the U.S. but done by others."
Judith Kipper, director, Middle East program, Centre for Strategic and International Studies
With the Northern Alliance occupying half of Afghanistan, the international community faces its toughest test yet. While Washington focuses on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the United Nations is frantically trying to establish good government. Here are some views on the military and diplomatic fronts.