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[Mohammed Fahim] is the military commander of the Northern Alliance - a militia that, despite deep divisions and poor equipment and training, is Afghanistan's most effective military force. The alliance holds Kabul with mainly ethnic Tajik troops from the Panjshir Valley. They are a core of forces loyal to Fahim. His military grip on this city gives Fahim real power that will be diluted with the arrival of peacekeeping troops.
It is not clear to what extent Fahim's stance reflects that of the incoming interim leader, Hamid Karzai. A diplomat who knows Karzai well said he expects the new Afghan leader to welcome a much larger force and suggested that Fahim may risk being isolated if he tries to hold to his position.
Karzai and Fahim appear still to be working out their relationship. Friday, in a symbolically important appeal for unity, Karzai visited the stronghold of Fahim's troops in the Panjshir Valley. He prayed at the grave of their longtime commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in September.