US, Afghan detainee deal done by next week, says ISAF

That deal, which will outline the handover of hundreds of terror suspects at Parwan Prison at Bagram Air Force Base to Afghan control, will likely be complete by next week, International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Deputy Commander British Lt. Gen. Nick Carter said Wednesday. 

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, head of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, discussed the details of that plan with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, according to Carter. 

The ISAF deputy chief did not go into specifics regarding Wednesday's discussions between Dunford and Karzai on the Parwan transfer, but noted the Afghan president is not ready to bring the plan to members of the Afghan National Security Council, who meet on Sunday.  

That said, "it's my expectation that Gen. Dunford is making good progress in terms of his discussions with the president on all of this, and that we will be working towards resolution to the problem during the course of the next week or so," Carter said. 

Control over the prison was handed to Kabul in September, but U.S. commanders opted to retain custody of a number of detainees over concerns that Kabul planned to release some high-value prisoners once Parwan was transferred to Afghan forces. 

That caveat drew harsh criticism from the Karzai government, which claimed the move infringed on Afghan sovereignty. 

The ongoing debate on how to handle high-value terror suspects being held at Parwan is one of many recent issues that have clouded U.S.-Afghan relations in preparation for the American drawdown in 2014. 

Another issue that has become a flashpoint for U.S-Afghan relations are ongoing U.S. and allied operations in Wardak province. 

Last month, the Afghan president ordered U.S. special operations units out of the province, located west of Kabul, amid allegations of murder, torture and abuse of Afghan civilians at the hands of those forces. 

Carter said ISAF and Afghan leaders have tentative plans to keep U.S. special operations forces out of Nirkh district in Wardak and transition the district to Afghan control.

"We don't yet know what solution they will apply to this, whether it will be one based upon local police with maybe their special forces providing mentorship, whether it'll be something that'll be under the aegis of the Ministry of Interior, or whether it'll be simply a conventional [military] solution," according to Carter.  

The final transition strategy for Nirkh province will be discussed during Sunday's national security council meeting, the ISAF official said. 

"We'll be involved in the planning with the Afghans between now and then. And, as we produce this combined plan with them, I suspect we'll be in a better position to explain what the solution will be," he added. 

Outside of Nirkh, it will be "business as usual" in Wardak, where American special forces and ISAF units will "absolutely" continue to operate inside the province until the 2014 withdrawal deadline, Carter said. 

"They will still operate there. I think that Nirkh will be treated slightly differently," he said. "But, of course, what we're seeking to do in the coming months is to transition much of Afghanistan [to Afghan control] and Wardak will be part of that plan." 

The result of those internal Afghan negotiations on Nirkh district, and Wardak province as a whole, could be a "good bellwether" for how the overall handover of security operations to Afghan forces will play out over the coming year. 

"The fabric of leadership in place in Wardak is very challenging," Carter said.

"I think the politics of this place give us a really good indication as to how the Afghans are going to manage transition as we step forward. So it's an interesting place to focus on in terms of our attention," he added.