New top NATO Commander Petraeus warns of though mission ahead in Afghanistan; US congress confirms his appointment; NATO Secretary General rules out any change in NATO strategy in Afghanistan;
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  • New top US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan General Petraeus has said that it is essential to show unity of purpose to solve Afghanistan's problems. He stated that "This is a tough mission, there is nothing easy about it,". Petraeus landed in Kabul on July 2 after his appointment got confirmed by the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.1 Meanwhile, responding to the appointment of US General David Petraeus as top Afghan war commander in Afghansitan, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the change of top commander in Afghanistan will not bring a change in strategy of NATO-led forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.2

    Earlier, General Petraeus noted that he may end some of the restrictions on air power that have been blamed for alliance casualties, but will not do so if it risks killing more Afghan civilians. It should be noted that more than 320 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, including more than 100 in June, which is the the bloodiest month for foreign forces since a US-led alliance overthrew the Taliban.3

    While, Afghan Parliament confirmed five nominees for cabinet posts on Monday, leaving six slots vacant. Among those approved was a new interior minister, General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who is former army chief of staff. Gen. Mohammadi will replace Hanif Atmar who resigned in June along with the head of the intelligence service after President Karzai criticized their failure to intercept militants who attacked a nationwide peace conference. However, parliament rejected two members of minority ethnic group Hazara. According to the Afghan President’s spokesperson, President Karzai was concerned about the rejection of the two Hazara nominees and expressed determination to do whatever he could to ensure their role in the government.4

    The Taliban in Afghanistan have reportedly told the BBC that there is no question of their entering into any kind of negotiations with NATO forces. In a statement given to the BBC, Zabiullah Mujahedd, the acknowledged spokesman for the Afghan Taliban noted that the group had no intention of entering into talks. He insisted "We are certain that we are winning. Why should we talk if we have the upper hand?"5

    In other developments, members of the US House of Representatives have blocked almost $4billion of US aid after a vote in the house. This move has come after reports of corruption in Afghanistan and allegations that huge amounts of cash have been flown out of the country. Meanwhile US Attorney General Eric holder has met with the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to discuss the issues related to tackling of corruption.6