AFGHANISTAN: Coup at the Crossroads

After 40 years as monarch of Afghanistan, King Mohammed Zahir Shah, 58, presumably thought it safe to take a holiday in Italy to soak up some sun and get treatment for a troublesome eye condition. That, as it turned out last week, was a royal mistake. While the King was bathing his eyes with mud and mineral water at a thermal spa on the isle of Ischia off Naples, his kingdom was peremptorily converted into a republic. Leading the coup was his cousin and brother-in-law, ex-Prime Minister Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan.

Although there had been growing discontent over government inertia...

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