News / Asia

Afghan President Delays Signing of Deal with US

Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga Approves US Security Deali
X
November 24, 2013 9:38 PM
In an historic decision, Afghanistan’s assembly of tribal and community elders, or Loya Jirga, overall approved a multi-page Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States. But as Sharon Behn reports from Kabul, it is still unclear when the deal will be signed.
Related video by Sharon Behn
Sharon Behn
In an historic decision, Afghanistan’s assembly of tribal and community elders, the Loya Jirga, overall approved a multi-page Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.  But it is still unclear when the deal will be signed.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai accepted the decision by 2,500 tribal and community leaders to approve the security deal. But in a 45-minute speech Sunday, the Afghan leader held fast to his decision to not sign the agreement right away, saying he first wanted to see peace and security in the country as well as free and fair presidential elections in 2014.

“Peace is our condition with America.  America should bring peace to us. I know if they stand with us honestly, it will happen," he said.

President Karzai also stipulated there could be no more U.S. military raids on Afghan homes.

U.S. officials have rejected a delay, saying they would not be able to form long-term plans on a troop presence without an agreement in place by the end of this year.  U.S.-led international combat forces in Afghanistan are set to withdraw by the end of next year.
 
The Afghan leader’s decision ran directly counter to the call by the head of the Loya Jirga, former president Sibghatullah Mojaddedi that he sign the pact before the end of the year.

Washington also has insisted the agreement should be signed before 2014.  The political brinkmanship between Karzai and Washington has marked their rocky relationship for the past eight years of his presidency.

Analyst Idriss Rahmani of AIR Consulting in Kabul said Karzai is trying to mitigate the risks to himself and his clan for having made a deal with foreign forces, and he is willing to delay signing until he gets some assurances.
 
“He is basically asking for political assurance post-2014," Rahmani said.  "I think he’s asking Americans that 'I want to see a political system post 2014 that is friendly to me and friendly to my political allies."

To that end, Rahmani says, the Afghan leader has pushed the Americans to end the Taliban insurgency through negotiating a peace settlement, and called the Loya Jirga to ensure the responsibility for allowing U.S. forces to remain is spread as widely as possible.

The 10-year deal would allow a limited number of U.S. troops and U.S. defense personnel to remain in bases across the country.  Their main missions will be to train, equip and assist the emerging Afghan security forces, and prevent al-Qaida and related terrorist networks from using the country as a base.
 
On the wintry streets of Kabul, Hajighulam Sakhi says he agreed with the Loya Jirga’s decision, “We are happy with the decision of the Loya Jirga to approve the BSA [Bilateral Security Agreement].  It will benefit the nation and we welcome it.”

The meeting took place in central Kabul under heavy security.  Several days before it opened a bomb exploded  500 meters from the venue.  It was an acute reminder of the insecurity that still wracks the country after 12 years.  Afghan intelligence agencies said Sunday they had prevented additional attacks, and had seized quantities of ammunition and suicide bombers moving in Kabul.  They did not give further details.
 
Speaking to the gathered leaders, Karzai pointed out the benefits of the security deal, while threatening to call the whole thing off if U.S. raids of Afghan homes continued.  The raids have been deeply unpopular with Afghans, and the new security pact states such raids will only happen under emergency conditions when the life or limb of an American is at risk.
 
Kate Clark with the Afghanistan Analysts Network says this kind of speech is vintage Karzai.

“He has to present Afghanistan as the senior player in this relationship, as Afghanistan not only benefiting. but also sort of, yes, you know, allowing the foreigners to help,” she said.

Clark says the security deal, and the roughly $8 billion a year that comes with it to pay Afghan security forces and strengthen civilian institutions, are crucial to Afghanistan's future.  "You do not want men with arms not being paid, that is very, very dangerous.  So, that’s one thing," she says.

"The second thing is that the NATO mission is dependent on the American mission.  If there is no BSA, there is no NATO training mission, and that’s partly political, but partly just practical: the need the American medevacing, air support, logistics and so on.”

The Jirga members also delivered a list of 31 recommended amendments to the security document.  The amendments included: the release of all 19 Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo; banning the United States from using communications in Afghanistan to spy on Afghans; and and barring U.S. use of Afghan soil for operations against Afghanistan's neighbors.

Afghanistan is bordered by Iran and Pakistan, as well as China and Central Asia.

Rahmani says the amendments may give Karzai the space to try to negotiate further with Washington, and delay the signing process until after the elections.  The Americans, he says, "will have to figure out how much they can digest, how much they can consume."

If accepted and signed by Kabul and Washington, the security agreement would come into effect January 1, 2015, after the final departure of all international combat forces from Afghanistan.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs