Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mohsen Mandegari Interviewed Mullah Omar Sept 2001

ZAHER SHAH NOT FIT TO RULE AFGHANISTAN, MOLLAH OMAR TELLS IRAN PAPER: "ZAHER SHAH NOT FIT TO RULE AFGHANISTAN, MOLLAH OMAR TELLS IRAN PAPER

TEHRAN 29 Sept. (IPS) As the United States, the European Union and the United Nations are working hard to persuade Afghan former King Mohammad Zaher Shah to enter his country’s political scene, Mollah Mohammad Omar ruled him out as a force able to fill the vacuum in case the Taleban are overthrown.

"He (Zaher Shah) has a weak health and has not the possibility (to rule Afghanistan), besides, there is no vacuum of leadership and power in Afghanistan" the ruling Taleban’s Supreme Leader told the moderate, but pro-conservative Iranian daily "Entekhab" (Choice).

The rare interview, said to be the third granted by Mr. Mohammad Omar to foreign media since the Taleban took over Kabol in 1996, was front paged Saturday, but the paper did not said when his correspondent, Mr. Mohsen Mandegari, met the secretive Afghan leader.

Not only the Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognise the Islamic Emarat of Afghanistan, but also it is one of the main supporter of the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance forces.

"A puppet ruler can not last long in Afghanistan and the future of Taleban is bright thanks to God’s will", Mr. Omar said when asked to comment on the future of his regime in case the Americans succeed in installing the former King back to his throne.

The 86-years old Zaher Shah who, like the Taleban, is of Poshtoun origin and ethnic, was deposed by his cousin, Sardar Davoud Khan in a coup in 1974 while visiting Italy and stayed in Rome ever since.

In recent interviews, he has called on all Afghan warring groups to depose their arms and form an Extraordinary Loya Jirga, or the Elders Grand Assembly to name a prime minister and form a government of national union.

He also reiterated that though he was ready to "do what ever" he could to save his country, yet he would not try to reinstall the Monarchy.

In the absence of Ahmad Shah Mas’ood, the veteran and charismatic Afghan war commander who was killed in a suicide operation on 9 September, almost all Afghan and foreign analysts look to him as the only Afghan personality who could replace the Taleban, once the ultra-orthodox Islamic regime is toppled under international pressures.

A Northern Alliance delegation led by Dr. Adollah, the front’s Foreign Minister, met Saturday with Zaher Shah in Rome and discussed ways and means of convening the Extraordinary Loya Jirga.

The United States is at work to mobilise an international force against the Taleban that it accuses for providing shelter to Sheikh Osama Ben Laden, the man the American say is behind the deadly 11 September suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing thousands of people, mostly white collars.

Reliable Afghan sources also linked Mas’ood’s assassination to Mr. Ben Laden.

In the "Entekhab" interview, Mollah Mohammad Omar Akhound confirmed that as a young jihadi (holy warrior) fighting against the Red Army, both he and Sheikh Ben Laden, the Saudi millionaire, were helped by the United States.

"As this was a holly war, we had religious clearance (in getting help) from the United States that was also fighting Communism.

He did not condemn the 11 September operations, but said Islam was against the killing of "innocent people" in wars that not holly or against the apostates.

Asked if then he considers the men and women who were killed in the WTC towers as not being innocents, Mr. Omar corrected his answer, saying that Islam was against killing of innocent people, "even during holly wars".

He accused the United States for having closed all doors to negotiations by rejecting "arrogantly" all the (Taleban’s) conditions to settle the Ben Laden issue "It is to the aggressors to show flexibility, not the Taleban", he responded when asked if he was ready for some compromise.

Asked why the United States considers the Taleban and Ben Laden as terrorists, Mollah Omar said laconically: America is against Islam. Sheikh Ben Laden is a pretext only".

In his view, the reason that Afghanistan’s ulemas, or high-ranking religious authorities, decided to call on Mr. Ben Laden to leave Afghanistan voluntarily was to diffuse the "unfounded" American accusations.

Mollah Omar described rumours of wide spread divisions and desertions among the ruling Taleban as "wishful thinking" and assured that the United States would never succeed in dividing or toppling Taleban.

Asked about his threats that in case Afghanistan is attacked, the Taleban would take the war to neighbouring nations, Mollah Omar said "proper response and measures would be taken in time" and repeated that any country that would assist or co-operate with America would be considered as enemy "and treated as such". ENDS ENTEKHAB MOLLAH OMAR 29901"

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