What Is the Eastern Alliance?

What Is the Eastern Alliance?

What Is the Eastern Alliance?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Dec. 11 2001 6:05 PM

What Is the Eastern Alliance?

A banner headline at CNN.com Tuesday proclaimed that the Eastern Alliance had delivered an ultimatum to al-Qaida fighters in the mountains surrounding Tora Bora: Surrender by 10:30 p.m. ET (8 a.m. local time) or face an unrelenting attack. OK, but what's the Eastern Alliance? Does it have anything to do with the Northern Alliance?

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The "Eastern Alliance" is what CNN calls the Eastern Shura, the coalition of three militias led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen that has been trying to root out al-Qaida in eastern Afghanistan. The Associated Press refers to it in lower case as the "eastern alliance," and it's often referred to only as "anti-Taliban forces in Eastern Afghanistan" or simply "America's Afghan allies." The Eastern Shura overthrew the Taliban in mid-November in three provinces, including the Nangahar province that includes Jalalabad and Tora Bora.

The Eastern Shura sees itself as a counterweight to the Northern Alliance. Unlike the Northern Alliance, which consists mainly of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras, the Eastern Shura consists mainly of Pashtuns.

Bonus Explainer: What's a "shura"? According to Newsday, a shura is a "consultative council of elders": "Shuras have a long tradition in Afghan politics as a tool of reaching consensus among different tribes and ethnic groups." The Washington Post says a shura is a "regional governing council."