Afghanistan has entered a new era in which warlords are losing influence and pose little threat to stability, observers believe. Afghans are tired of war and want peace, experts argue. With the formation of an interim cabinet and peacekeeping by an international force, there is no chance the clock can be turned back to the chaos of 1989 when the withdrawal of Soviet troops left a power vacuum that allowed a warlord mentality to flourish. In 1992, an internationally brokered agreement led to a government headed by Burhanuddin Rabbani, whose forces now control Kabul. His mismanagement and the brutality of his troops became so hated that the hardline Islamic Taleban was welcomed when it seized Kabul in 1996. Mr Rabbani has repeatedly vowed since his Northern Alliance forces defeated the Taleban to hand over power to Prime Minister-designate Hamid Karzai peacefully on December 22. The seemingly swift taming at the weekend by Mr Karzai of rival ethnic Pashtun groups in Kandahar following the surrender of Taleban fighters was proof of the arrival of a new era. In post-Soviet warlord days, such groups would have held their ground and fought for supremacy. Analyst Reheem Yaseer, of the Centre for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska, Omaha - the only such research facility in the United States - said anti-unity comments by warlords General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan following the formation of the cabinet at United Nations-mediated talks in Germany last week were predictable. Neither was represented in the 30-member cabinet, which will rule for six months and then hand over to a wider administration. 'They felt the distribution of responsibilities was not balanced, but there is only one minister for foreign affairs, defence or finance - not three,' Mr Yaseer, an Afghan, said. 'No matter what is decided, they will have some secret plot. On the surface, they will congratulate and approve to make America and the international alliance happy, but underneath, as long as their own agendas are not implemented, they will make these kinds of noises.' Behind the scenes at the talks was the meddling of neighbouring countries Iran, Pakistan and Russia, still pushing their agendas. Russia had wanted General Dostum to be active in the cabinet and Pakistan had been pushing for former prime minister General Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mr Rabbani, while Iran had been pushing its own agenda. But the participation of the US-led Western alliance - and its continued activities in Afghanistan - meant such influences and subsequently those of the warlords would be kept at bay. 'They are not important, especially if the peacekeeping force is deployed,' Mr Yaseer said. 'I don't think they will be very effective. People don't want war any more. Dostum or two or three people around him might, but after 23 years of occupation and war, nobody else does.' Rizwan Hussain, of the Australian National University's Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies in Canberra, agreed that the warlords would be 'toothless' under a new security environment without funding and weapons from foreign powers. For example, Pakistan at present had considerable influence geographically among Pashtun ethnic groups but once a peacekeeping force was in place this would diminish. 'After the incidents in America [on September 11], the whole ball game has altered,' Mr Hussain said yesterday. 'Now Pakistan's role will be what the Americans want it to be.'