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America's New War: Feelings Abroad About Coming Crisis

Aired September 17, 2001 - 04:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: OK, the U.S. war against terrorism is drawing some fault lines around the work, not surprisingly. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is facing fire at home for pledging to support the U.S. in its war against terrorism. This could pit Islamabad against Taliban rulers in neighboring Afghanistan. The Taliban have refused to hand over chief suspect in Tuesday's attacks Osama Bin Laden. Now a high-level Pakistani delegation is in Kandahar in Afghanistan. They're bearing a message from Washington demanding the Taliban reverse its position.

Now on Sunday, Islamic fundamentalists waged protests in Pakistan in support of the Taliban. Demonstrators say they will fight -- quote -- "shoulder to shoulder" -- unquote -- will the Afghans in the event of a U.S. attack.

Well on the streets of Afghanistan a feeling that U.S. wrath is closing in on the troubled people. Nic Robertson reports on how Afghans view the crisis in the United States from their ever-growing isolation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bustling trade in Afghanistan's street markets belies an impending sense of isolation beginning to grip many Afghans. Concerns about the likelihood of an American attack and the possibility borders with Pakistan and Iran may close have driven food prices up ten to 15 percent. Concern also Afghan people could become innocent victims.

"They should wait until it's clear Osama was involved," this vendor says. "America shouldn't make any attack on Afghanistan," this trader says, "because the Afghan people are not involved and not responsible."

Many here, however, are too poor to flee the cities. 22 years of conflict has ruined infrastructure and economy alike. The years of war have also built up a resilience among many Afghans, to the point where a new attack would be a continuation of their ongoing battles. "The result of Russian aggression was the breaking of Russia into 16 countries," this old man says, remembering the 1980 Soviet occupation. "If America attacks us, Allah will divide America into 52 pieces." From influential tribal elders, not necessary aligned with the Taliban, however, a call for diplomacy. "We advise the Taliban that they must discuss everything with every one and not close the doors to negotiations." However, the tribal elders also said, if Afghanistan is attacked, they will back the Taliban to the end -- a sentiment echoed on the streets here as the last of the international aid workers began leaving because the Taliban said they could no longer guarantee their safety. Afghanistan's total isolation appears now closer than ever. Nic Robertson, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well, Libya's leader Moemmar Khadaffi has warned the United States that it risks getting dragged into a Soviet-style quagmire if it commits ground troops to Afghanistan. Mr. Khadaffi, a frequent critic of the United States, says Washington has the right to respond militarily to Tuesday's attacks, but he's called for U.S. President George W. Bush to show restraint in the fight against terrorism.

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