Karzai Moves to Replace Afghan Security Chiefs
Afghan President Hamid Karzai moved to replace the country’s intelligence chief and the ministers of defense and interior Wednesday, the first step in what senior government officials said was a planned wider Cabinet shakeup aimed at solidifying the president’s power before elections and the drawdown of foreign forces.
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The president also is trying to shore up his shaken security team as his administration struggles to build an army and police force in the face of a resurgent Taliban as the U.S. and other foreign forces begin to withdraw. Those coalition’s training efforts have increasingly become a target for insurgents — NATO said Wednesday that three more of its service members were killed an Afghan wearing an army uniform in the latest in a string of attacks by Afghan’s on international trainers.
Karzai’s latest reshuffle of top officials — if it goes through — appeared to be an attempt to stack the Cabinet and electoral commission with his allies in a bid to retain power behind-the-scenes after his final five-year term ends and the international troops withdraw in 2014.
“With the elections coming, with the transition … it is a time for him to re-strengthen his team,” said Martine van Bijlert, an expert at the Afghan Analysts Network. “I think we could be seeing a major reshuffle. … The question is always: Can he make it stick?”