February 8th, 2010
03:55 PM ET

Around the Web: Karzai wants Afghanistan security handover to begin this year

Afghanistan is prepared to begin taking over security from international forces in some parts of the war-torn nation by the end of the year, President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

By the end of his five-year term in 2014, Karzai said, "conditions permitting ... Afghan forces will have full responsibility for security throughout the country, with international forces continuing to serve in the capacity of providing backup and assistance."

Speaking at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Karzai said he planned to build up the army and the national police to some 300,000 by 2012.

However, in a sign that there are many risks to such a handover, several news organizations have reports that an Afghan police official has been arrested on suspicions that he helped organize and plant roadside bombs.

“The commander had belonged to a ring of insurgents in Kapisa, a province north of Kabul patrolled by French forces, the international military mission in Afghanistan said on Sunday. Roadside bombs cause the majority of foreign troop deaths,” reported Matthew Green of the Financial Times.

“The threat of police colluding with the Taliban is one of a host of obstacles to plans to accelerate the expansion of the Afghan army and police, to allow western troops – due to peak at about 140,000 – to leave.”

Laura King of the Los Angeles Times reports that “Afghan officials raised doubts about the man's guilt, and the Interior Ministry, which oversees the national police, said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had been asked for an explanation.”

Some other news reports and perspectives:

- Peter Spiegel (Wall street Journal): “France defends Afghan troop commitment

- Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times): “A well-written war, told in the first person

- Julius Cavendish (Christian Science Monitor): "Afghanistan war: U.S. troops' new push into 'heart of darkness'"

- Daniel Byman (Brookings): “Go negative: Fighting al Qaeda in Pakistan”  

- Kapil Komireddi (Foreign Policy): “Indian motion

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