ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In 2014, Afghanistan faced two major interconnected transformations. First was the withdrawal of most international troops. On January 1, 2015, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces officially took over full defense and security related responsibilities in Afghanistan. Second was the first transition of power through elections in the history of the country. In light of the withdrawal of international troops, the new Afghan government was supposed to focus on developing effective policies related to military, economic and security aspects. However, the 2014 elections led to an increase in inter-party and ethnic tensions. The two leading presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, were at loggerheads over the election results. Eventually, with the support of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, they agreed to share power and jointly formed the National Unity Government (NUG).
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