Afghanistan: Ghani finally names new cabinet

Political gridlock in Afghanistan began to ease on Monday, as President Ashraf Ghani at last released a list of cabinet nominees after a quarter of a year in office. The piecemeal government formed from the coalitions of Abdullah Abdullah and Ghani began with fanfare but was slowly mired in disagreements over government formation and which coalitions would have the upper hand. Unfortunately, this persisted as Taliban attacks have increased since the election, especially on Kabul, looking to begin a new offensive coinciding with the withdrawal of most US troops.

President Ghani made 25 nominations, at last coming to terms with Chief Executive Abdullah’s terms for appointing ministry officials to the powerful defense and interior ministries. Several key cabinet minister announcements also reveal whose coalition ended up coming out of this impasse ahead of their rivals. An ethnic Pashtun and Ghani supporter, Sher Mohammad Karimi, chief of staff for the Afghan National Army, was nominated for Defense Minister. However, the nominee for interior minister is Abdullah supporter Nur ul-Haq Ulomi, who was a senior military official under the Soviet regime of Najibullah.

The United States has only commented that it support the nominations, and it is unclear if these nominations will become bogged down in the upcoming Parliamentary confirmation process.

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News Briefs:

  • In additional news , Secretary of State John Kerry has also called on Pakistan and India re-engage in peace dialogues, addressing the press in a joint press conference with Sartaj Aziz, an advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In a twist that Kerry perhaps was not expecting however, Aziz stated simply that, “Pakistan will not start talks with India without Kashmir.”
  • Additional shells and rockets fired into Donetsk today destroyed a passenger bus, where 12 people have died. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security Council said that the rockets were fired from a Grad launcher in rebel territory, but rebel representative Denis Pushilin denied all responsibility. This is the most significant breakdown in the ceasefire and peace talks that has occurred since the deal’s inception in September of last year. However, rebels insist that it has been a unilateral resumption of hostilities on the part of the government.
  • Islam Karimov issued a statement yesterday where he vowed that Uzbekistan will never join another Soviet Style alliance, blasting Russia for glorifying the Lenin and Stalin era of the USSR. All these comments were made during a meeting of the lower session of Uzbekistan’s Parliament. These remarks cast doubt on Russian efforts to recruit Uzbekistan for the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Tajikistan has signed an agreement to build a Turkish Coca-Cola plant. The Turkish Coca-Cola subsidiary, Icecek is the 6th largest bottler of the product in terms of sales volume and the new factory will be a centerpiece in Coca-Cola’s expansion into South and Central Asian markets. This marks the 24th Coca-Cola plant in the world today, and Icecek plans to open three more plants in Pakistan between 2015 to 2017, as well as a new one later this year in Kazakhstan.
  • Gazprom has abandoned the geological survey of two zones in Tajikistan, focusing instead on exploration of hydrocarbons in more promising areas – specifically Sarikamysh and West Shaambary, in the west. Gazprom has thus far found only one viable exploitable oil resource in Tajikistan, depressing hopes that the country might have another source of mineral wealth.
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