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 Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.