April 27, 2011

Daily brief: Panetta to Pentagon, Petraeus to CIA: reports

From The AfPak Channel by Andrew Lebovich -

Change at the top

The Associated Press reported this morning that as part of a reshuffling of President Obama's Afghanistan war team, current CIA chief Leon Panetta will be named secretary of defense to replace outgoing secretary Robert Gates, while current International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) head Gen. David Petraeus will replace Panetta at the CIA (AP). Yesterday the AP reported that that the Obama administration is likely to nominate veteran diplomat Ryan C. Crocker to be the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing current ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who is expected to depart in the next few months (AP, NYT, Reuters, Post). The move would bring Crocker back to South Asia, where he was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 until 2007 and opened the post-Taliban U.S. embassy in Kabul. Gates said yesterday that no decision has been made about the number of U.S. troops to begin withdrawing in July (Reuters).

Friendly fire

An Afghan Air Force officer reportedly opened fire on international troops this morning insider an Afghan Air Force facility at Kabul Airport after an "argument," reportedly killing at least six U.S. soldiers (BBC, Reuters, CNN, AJE). The Taliban have claimed credit for the shootings (AP).

In a letter to Afghan president Hamid Karzai yesterday, the country's justice minister indicated that Monday's escape of nearly 500 Taliban prisoners from the Sarposa jail in Kandahar was likely conducted with help inside the prison and the surrounding areas (NYT, LAT, Tolo). He also blamed Afghan and ISAF forces for not discovering and disrupting the plot, which reportedly involved a well-constructed tunnel with electricity and a pipe for circulating air (AP, Reuters). And British immigration authorities are set to deport two Afghan converts to Christianity, despite concern that the men will be killed or imprisoned upon their return to Afghanistan on account of their new faith (Guardian).

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