KABUL, Afghanistan - Spokespersons for the International Security Assistance Force and for the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ministry of defense held a press conference June 23 in the GIRoA Government Media Information Center briefing room packed with press.
Germany Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Blotz, ISAF, and Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi gave statements on current weekly operations and responded to questions on Afghanistan to a standing-room-only crowd of local and international media.
The other two main areas of discussion were Marjah and Kandahar with few questions on security contractors afterwards during the breakout sessions outside in the tranquil and picturesque garden in contrast to the highly charged atmosphere in the press briefing room.
“We are definitely in a better situation in the whole area [Marjah],” Blotz said. “I think we can see and we will see much better progress in this area. The complexity of the challenge is quite serious. For an operation that has only gone on for 130 days. It takes time. You need to make sure there is sustainability to our process. The situation in Kandahar is much different. A city like Kandahar, we cannot occupy it like Marjah. In the terms of Kandahar, we are not talking about a typical military operation with a start date. We are coming up with better freedom of movement for the Afghan people. Only ten days ago, President Karzai held a shura in Kandahar.”
“The security of Marjah needs time,” Azimi said.
After the joint ISAF/MoD press conference Waheed Omar, the spokesperson for the President of GIRoA, Hamid Karzai, also gave some comments to the media.
“The President thanked the President of Afghanistan for beginning the projects in Kandahar,” Omar said.
“Afghan and ISAF forces made progress this week on a number of operations,” Blotz said.
Several insurgent leaders in Paktika province were killed during a joint ANSF/ISAF operation including Hamidullah, a senior Haqqani network commander and weapons facilitator, he added.
Azimi also spoke about the current security of Afghanistan.
“Our message to the people of Afghanistan is that the security has improved in most of the provinces,” he said. “Most [of] the casualties are caused by IEDs, the security situation has been improved. The level of civilian casualties has decreased. The capacity and capability has increased by fifty percent since the last presidential elections. It needs time, so we get confidence from the people.”
Blotz said, “The decision was to get in more troops to Afghanistan, in order to establish the precondition of better governance. When we get in more troops that leads to more confrontation. It is a very complex situation. We will have real and tangible results by the end of this year.
“Yesterday the President of Afghanistan had a teleconference with President Obama,” Omar said. “They discussed the security contracts where there is no transparency. These contracts are given to private companies in Malaysia which can cause instability in Afghanistan. Also, both Presidents committed that the next time they would talk would be after the Kabul conference.”
“It is an Afghan government responsibility to register the security companies,” Blotz said in response to a question from a local Afghan female journalist on who controls the security contractors and companies in Afghanistan.
Karzai also recently returned from a trip to Japan to meet with their Prime Minister.
“The government of Japan donated $5 billion to the Ggvernment of Afghanistan,” Omar said. “We appreciate this from the government of Japan. “
“We hope we can have good investment in Afghanistan, the investment itself can bring peace and stability to Afghanistan,” Omar said.
Regarding Karzai’s efforts to remove insurgents from the U.N. Security Council terrorist black list, Omar said, “the members of the United Nations council accepted a step by step consultation on the names who are needed and the names the Government of Afghanistan asked to be removed.”
In regards to Karzai’s submission of new nominees for his open cabinet positions, Omar said, “The list [of ministers] is sent in documentation to the National Assembly of Afghanistan. All the characteristics that a good minister should have are considered. Everything should be considered.”