March 22, 2011

Daily brief: Afghan security transition to start in 7 areas

From The AfPak Channel by Katherine Tiedemann -
Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced earlier today that seven areas of Afghanistan -- the provincial capitals of Herat, Helmand, Laghman, and Balkh, in addition to all of the provinces of Bamiyan, Panjshir, and Kabul except for Surobi district -- will be in the first phase of transition to Afghan security control, scheduled to begin in July (Pajhwok, NYT, AP, Reuters, LAT). The locations "are either relatively free of insurgent activity or have a heavy presence of U.S. and NATO troops that can intervene anytime Afghan security forces become overwhelmed," according to the LA Times, and Reuters adds that the "first phase of the transition is more symbolism than substance."

The AP describes the Taliban's campaign of assassinating Afghan officials who work with the coalition as "deeply demoralizing," as U.S. officials, casting the assassinations as signs of a desperate force, predict that the "hit teams" will continue to operate (AP). At least 140 government officials were killed last year.
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