Oct 262011

Second phase of Afghan security handover to be announced next month

Oct 26, 2011



Kabul – Afghanistan is set to take security responsibility from NATO-led forces for 17 provinces in the second phase of transition, officials announced Wednesday.

All or parts of 17 of the 34 provinces likely to be handed over, said Abdul Khaliq Farahi, director of the Independent Directorate of Local Government that is coordinating the transition.

Governors of the provinces set for handover were in Kabul to discuss the preparations for security responsibility, he said.

President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce the final list of the provinces and areas next week at a conference in Turkey.

They would include Badakhshan in north-east; Sar-e-Pul, Takhar, Samangan, Badghis and Balkh in north; Herat and Nimruz in the west, Helmand in the south; Kabul, Laghman and Nangarhar in the east and Parwan, Daikundi, Ghor, Wardak and Ghazni in the central region.

In July, the first phase saw seven areas handed over to Afghan security forces despite doubts among some local residents.

German soldiers are largely stationed in northern Afghanistan. Kunduz, one of the provinces in the north with most security incidents, is not set for transfer, according to officials.

All districts but one in Kabul province were handed over to Afghan forces in the first phase. Surobi district just outside the capital city where French soldiers are stationed will be handed over in the second phase.

The transfer of security responsibility is an essential part of the process that enables the Afghan government to assume full control of the country by the end of 2014, when the foreign forces are scheduled to leave.

Governors attending the Kabul preparation meeting said Afghan forces were not ready in many areas to take over security.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, governor of volatile eastern province of Laghman, said his ‘only wish is that the international community and the Afghan government stay committed to what they vow.’

The second phase of transition begins as the coalition forces try to keep insurgents off Afghan borders in the eastern parts of the country.

There are currently more then 130,000 foreign troops in the country from some 49 countries, largely from the United States. The US, France and others have already begun to reduce troop levels.

Afghan Taliban in the past have dubbed transition as ‘symbolic, useless and worthless process’ and said it will not affect their operations.

The insurgents have been targeting larger swathes of Afghanistan. Even the capital Kabul in the last two months has come under serious attacks including a 20-hour siege against the US embassy.

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