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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid