Battle for Power Rages in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan?Less than a week after the Taliban were driven from Kabul, 3,000 Shiite Muslim fighters are poised outside, demanding a share of power. Major cities are now warlords’ fiefdoms, and the idea of a broad-based government is being challenged by hastily multiplying posters of factional leaders.

While the United Nations is trying to organize a power-sharing conference, it must move quickly or Afghanistan could suffer the same anarchy and division that paved the way for the Taliban’s rise in the last decade.

The sudden collapse of the Taliban throughout much of the country has left a power vacuum which the arrival of the northern alliance into Kabul last week only partially filled.

The alliance is a coalition of five groups which were driven from power by the Taliban in 1996 and which rallied together because of their common hatred for the Islamic militia.