Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has decided to replace Masoom Stanekzai with a new acting defense minister.
The changes emphasize the ambiguity at the top of Afghanistan’s security apparatus that has stalled the fight against the Taliban since Ghani’s National Unity Government came to power in 2014.
Noting that Stanekzai is a loyalist ally shifted to lead the main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was replaced as caretaker defence minister by General Abdullah Khan, previously chief of staff at the ministry.
Well regarded by NATO commanders, the latter shall move to take over the NDS, whose director, Rahmatullah Nabil, resigned after disagreeing with Ghani’s moves towards rapprochement with Pakistan, in December.
Noting that last month former army general Taj Mohammad Jahid was approved by the parliament as interior minister after the previous incumbent, Noor-ul-Haq Olomi, resigned following heavy criticism over deteriorating security, now both appointments will need to be approved by parliament, noting that it did not succeed in confirming Stanekzai as defence minister before.
At the time, the speaker of parliament asked the government to present nominees to lead the defence ministry and the NDS so that the caretaker arrangement could be ended.