New Afghanistan Army chief appointed

Gen Mohammad Yasin Zia – Afghanistan’s former Deputy Defence Minister – was appointed as the country’s new chief of army staff on 8 July 2020. Zia – who has now been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General – succeeds Bismillah Waziri, who had held the post since March 2019. Zia, a former governor of Takhar, has led several anti-Taliban operations in the country – especially in parts of the northern province.

Key facts

Mohammad Yasin Zia is an ethnic Tajik from the Shakar Dara district of Kabul province. According to the Afghan Defence Ministry, he holds a degree in military and intelligence affairs, and has studied law and political science. “I was one of the students of military school and in addition to having interests in the military, I had also joined a medical college for some time,” Zia, while speaking during a Ramadan programme aired on the private Tolo News TV on 25 April, said.

Over the years, he has held various government and security posts – serving as the head of Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism unit in 2011, the deputy head of the Afghan intelligence agency NDS in 2012, and the governor of the northern Takhar province in 2016. As a governor of the restive border province, he played a crucial role in Afghan security operations to quell rising Taliban insurgency in Takhar as well as the neighbouring province of Kunduz.

In 2017, after he resigned from his post as Takhar’s governor, he was appointed as the deputy for the commander-in-chief to the Office of National Security Council. Before his appointment as the army chief, he held the post of the first deputy of the Defence Ministry.

In his own words

In March 2019, after he was appointed to his post at the Defence Ministry, Zia said in a series of tweets: “Today, as I’m introduced to serve as the First Deputy @MoDAfghanistan, I remember the day I took oath as a soldier. A proud & honourable moment to serve my country and people. We wish for peace in our nation, but if defence is required, I will fight side by side w/ our forces.”

“…under the leadership of Minister @AsadullahKhaled, I will assess, identify gaps and we will bring solutions to motivate and re-energize our forces….” he added.

What others say

Many people welcomed Zia’s appointment as the country’s new army chief.

Freelance journalist Bilal Sarwary (@bsarwary) tweeted: “Congratulations my friend Zia @DrZiaYasin on your appointment as Army Chief of Staff. Gen Yasin Zia is a professional intelligence officer, worked his way up in NDS and eventually raised to NDS CT chief, deputy head of NDS for provincial affairs & operations… I have followed him around Afghanistan. He is hard working and always in touch with commanders on the battlefield.”

Similarly, Abdul Hadi Nejrabi – the minister-plenipotentiary and deputy chief of mission at the Afghan embassy in Washington – tweeted: “I am proud to congratulate my dear brother & friend @DrZiaYasin on his appointment to the Army Chief of Staff.”

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