News / Asia

Afghan-US Security Agreement Still Not Clear

U.S. troops, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan, Sep. 8, 2013.
U.S. troops, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan, Sep. 8, 2013.
Sharon Behn
Afghanistan’s president has called for an assembly of elders to discuss a draft bilateral security agreement with the United States. President Hamid Karzai says there is no rush in signing the pact, casting more doubt on the future of U.S. forces in the country after the planned NATO withdrawal in 2014.

Karzai has handed over the prickly question of signing a bilateral security agreement with the United States to a council of elders, or loya jirga, that he says will meet next month. The Afghan leader shrugged off concerns that the meeting will delay a decision on the security pact which would be crucial after international combat forces leave the country at the end of next year.

According to John Wood, of the Washington, D.C.-based Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, there are two main sticking points between the U.S. administration and Karzai.

"As I understand it, Mr. Karzai wants a very specific external security agreement or assurance, frankly something that would probably rise to the level of a treaty agreement in the eyes of the United States," he said.

Such a binding agreement would push Washington to protect Afghanistan from external aggression. This, says Wood, is a direction the Obama administration would not be likely take. Wood emphasized his opinions were his own, and did not necessarily reflect those of his organization.

And Karzai has his own concerns over U.S. demands. Wood says "the other sticking point, I believe, still revolves around the degree of autonomy that U.S. Special Operations Forces might have, or the CIA may have, to continue to operate independently and with no oversight or prior approval of the Afghan government."

Karzai on Monday lashed out at the United States and NATO forces in his country for conducting air raids and other operations that he said violate Afghanistan's sovereignty in the name of fighting terrorism. He said he would never permit that under the proposed Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA.

"If the United States and its allies NATO continue to demand that even after signing of the BSA they will have the freedom to attack our people, our villages, the Afghan people will never allow them that," said Karzai.

Analysts in Kabul warn that not having an effective bilateral security agreement to back up Afghan forces after international forces leave could embolden the Taliban and other militant networks.

Former Afghan minister Hamidullah Farooqi says, "Taliban and other armed forces against Afghan government, they also are seeing an opportunity for themselves that 2014, [the] international community is leaving, they might feel they are going to be able to capture again the political power."

Farooqi believes a transparent and successful presidential election in April 2014 and a strong Afghan government will reverse that momentum.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who until September 30 was a member of the Afghan negotiating team, told VOA that the security talks are taking into account the needs of every Afghan constituent group. He says the agreement is shaping into a very balanced, if not necessarily long-term binding one.

"It is a fully worked out, detailed set of understandings between two governments. Second, the duration is 10 years," he said. "Three, each government has a process for changing the agreement. So, it’s not that this government is binding the future government categorically."

But some analysts and Kabul residents are worried. They say the Taliban is swiftly moving into more villages across the country, running protection rackets and extortion rings to finance their actions. And one former Afghan military official said the country's fledgling army is facing a disheartening rate of desertions.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid