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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid