Karzai announces new his new Cabinet; Mullen: Collusion between Taliban and Pakistan-based militants worrisome; Joint Investigation Report: 132 civilians killed in Kunduz air strike; Gen. Petraeus: Iran shipping arms to Taliban insurgents;
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  • President Hamid Karzai announced his new cabinet on December 19, retaining 11 former ministers. The announcement to this effect was made live on state-run television naming 23 of 25 ministers as names of ministers for Foreign Affairs and the Disabled is yet to be announced. The Minister of Defence, Abdul Rahim Wardak and the Minister for Interior, Hanif Atmar, viewed as key players in building up Afghanistan's security forces retained their portfolios.1

    US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen expressed concern on the increasing connivance between Taliban and Pakistan-based militants. Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Mullen noted the global community's success lay in joint operations against insurgents and in enabling Afghan forces tp take charge of their security in 2011 when the US would begin a gradual drawdown of troops. He further noted that foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan are making an effort to restore peace in the war-ravaged country. In doing so, the international military personnel should attempt to win the confidence of Afghans by respecting their culture.2 Meanwhile, a joint investigation conducted by a German committee and Kunduz Provincial Council members revealed that only 5 out the 137 people killed in an air strike by NATO forces in northern Kunduz province in September were Taliban rest being civilians.3

    In other developments, US CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus stated that Iran is supplying arms to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. General Petraeus was speaking in a press conference in Kabul on December 16 where he noted "So that has taken place. We've seen the weapons and signature items that have come from Iran (into Afghanistan)… "some of that is understandable and some of that is (an) effort to increase its political influence in the country.”4

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown unveiled an ambitious plan for a 68-nation conference on the future of Afghanistan in January 2010 in London. It is expected that delegates from 68 nations will participate in the proposed conference including the 43 countries comprising the international coalition operating in Afghanistan. According to Brown, he also expects the conference to agree on the criteria for the transfer of provinces to Afghanistan beginning next year.5

    Georgia would reportedly dispatch nearly 1,000 troops to Afghanistan as a token of gratitude towards the west. This was state by the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili in an article published in Wall Street on December 19. Georgia “has been grateful for the extent to which the US and Europe have stood alongside over recent years,” he wrote.6