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The Killid Group

Transition starts, will it end?

Written by Killid Commentary
Sunday, 27 March 2011 15:24

Transition starts, will it end?


U.S.-NATO troops will soon transfer security command to Afghan forces and will gradually pack up and leave - will Afghans achieve what foreigners failed to do?

The relatively peaceful provinces of Bamiyan and Panjshir will be completely under Afghan control over the next three months and Kabul, Herat, Balkh and Helmand provinces will be partially controlled by Afghan security forces in the near future, according to a transition plan announced by President Hamid Karzai on 22 March.

July 2011 will mark a watershed event in the post-Taliban Afghanistan as U.S. troops will begin a gradual drawdown in their presence and Afghan army and police forces will start filling their gap.

In his speech at the National Military Academy, President Karzai said that Afghans "no longer desire to see others defend their country for them," and that Afghans were ready to take the charge of security in their country.

"We understand that taking over all the responsibilities for the governance, security and reconstruction at a time when our country is still struggling with the legacies of the thirty-year old bloody war worsened in the other hand by continued interferences and destructions is not something easy," Karzai said.

The Transition Process was agreed upon at a NATO summit in November 2010 and is designed to enable the Afghan Government to assume all security responsibilities within its territory by the end of 2014. Most of the over 140,000 U.S.-NATO are expected to leave the country over the next three years but some U.S. forces will maintain bases and will continue providing training and support for the Afghan forces.

"Insecure even with NATO"

2014 will also mark the end of President Karzai's second and final constitutional term. Afghans will have to hold fair and free election, nationwide, to elect a new president in 2014. Whether or not Afghanistan will be able to undergo fundamental military and political changes successfully is debatable but the plans are already drawn as such.

By the time U.S.-NATO will complete returning to Afghans the security control of their country there will be over 400,000 Afghan army and police forces that are entirely dependent on U.S.-NATO's military, financial and strategic support.

The transition comes amidst an unprecedented spike in the conflict-related security incidents since 2002 as Taliban insurgents and other anti-government elements target pro-government forces, politicians and civilian people all over the country. The hike in armed violence has yielded catastrophic impacts on the civilian people in Afghanistan and civilian casualty figures have been reported as highest since the Taliban were toppled in late 2001.

Whilst President Karzai and his U.S.-NATO backers describe the transition as a major success, the Afghan people are gravely concerned about their future security.

Under internationally-agreed arrangements, the former Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 leaving behind a dependent regime to sustain the war against the then insurgent Mujahideen. In the eyes of many Afghans, history is repeating itself this time with a planned U.S.-NATO withdrawal from their country which will leave a weak and ill-prepared Afghan government to sort out the war with Taliban insurgents.

"In order for the Afghan security forces to provide security for the people they would need to overcome the entire technical, professional and resources challenges which they have been facing," said Yaqub Hoshmand, a journalist in the northern Mazar-e-Sharif city where security will be within the hands of Afghans in the next three months.

"Afghan security forces alone will be unable to ensure the security here because even in the presence of foreign forces insecurity is widespread," said Sharafatullah, a resident of the western Herat city.

However, Zahir Azizi, a spokesman of the Defense Ministry, assured that the Afghan National Army (ANA) was ready to take a leading role in the provision of security. "We're prepared for the job. We have also been assured by the international community that support, resources and other requirements will be provided to us promptly."

Alongside security, the Afghan Government is trying to reassert its political and economic sovereignty. Headed by a former presidential candidate and finance minister, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a Transition Commission has been tasked to facilitate an environment in which Afghan political, security and economic institutions will deliver sustainable services to the people independently.

Over the past few years, President Karzai has repeatedly criticized foreign interventions in Afghanistan's internal affairs and has demanded greater autonomy for his government. Did he really managed to convince the U.S. that Afghanistan will be better-off with an independent and autonomous government? Or is it rather that the U.S.-NATO need to leave?

"As we move towards the transition process, all foreign parallel functions and institutions including private security firms, the PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Teams], militias, detention of Afghan citizens by foreign forces and arbitrary house searches must stop immediately," President Karzai underlined last week.


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