17th US Commander Takes Over America’s Longest War

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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