The 17th commander to lead the NATO and United States forces in Afghanistan in what has become America’s longest war took charge in a change of command ceremony in Kabul Sunday morning.General Austin Scott Miller of the U.S. Army is taking over at a time when Afghanistan is experiencing a combination of hope, apprehension, and uncertainty.A first-ever cease-fire between the warring factions during the Muslim holy festival Eid-al-Fitr in June, followed by direct contacts between Taliban and U.S. officials in Qatar, raised hopes that a start of negotiations with the Taliban for a political settlement of the 17 year old conflict could be imminent.Those hopes were dashed last month when the Taliban failed to reciprocate President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for a second cease-fire during the holy festival of Eid-al-Adha.General John Nicholson, the outgoing commander, indicated that the Taliban decision may have been influenced by their foreign backers.
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