News / Asia

    Afghan Leaders Consider US Security Deal

    Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga attend a gathering in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga attend a gathering in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    The Afghanistan president said Thursday that he is backing a bilateral security deal reached with the United States that could see U.S. forces in Afghanistan through 2024 and perhaps longer.

    In an impassioned speech to 2,500 tribal, community and elected leaders, Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended a bilateral security agreement reached with Washington, saying it would benefit Afghanistan in the long run.

    Saying he had the support of Afghanistan’s major allies and neighbors except Iran, Karzai encouraged the assembly, known as the Loya Jirga, to vote for the security pact.

    But in what could be a potential sticking point with the U.S., Karzai said if the Jirga approves the document and the Afghan parliament then votes in favor of the deal, the agreement "might be signed" after the April 2014 presidential elections.

    Washington pushed back after Mr. Karzai made his comments. 

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said failure to finalize an agreement within the coming weeks “would prevent the United States and our allies from being able to plan for a post-2014 presence” in Afghanistan.

    The deal is due to take effect in January 1, 2015, and will keep American troops and civilian personnel in Afghanistan for at least another decade and possibly even longer.

    “Without friendship nothing is possible," Kazai told the Jirga, speaking in a mix of Pashto and Dari. "When a person stands alone, he will end up under the feet of others, as we once were. It is said that a leader is only a leader thanks to his friends, but only if you have good friends. We don’t want a weak friendship.”

    Under the terms of the deal, U.S. forces will no longer conduct combat operations in Afghanistan. Their mission will be to train, assist and equip Afghan security forces, and to try and ensure terrorist networks do not use the country as a base of operations.

    The deal, reached between Washington and Kabul in the early hours of Thursday, must now be approved by members of the Jirga, who come from around the country. They are gathered under heavy security in the capital.

    Although the role of the Jirga is purely an advisory one, their backing of the security pact is seen as politically important.  The final vote lies in the hands of the Afghan parliament.

    Karzai read to the gathering a letter he said came from U.S. President Barack Obama in which the American leader said U.S. forces would only forcibly enter Afghan homes under “extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals.”

    The issue of U.S. raids had held up the entire bilateral agreement until just hours before the Loya Jirga opened Thursday.

    • Members attend the Loya Jirga in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    • Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the first day of the Loya Jirga in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    • Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga attend a meeting in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    • Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga attend a gathering in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    • International Security Assistance Force Commander General Joseph Dunford leaves from the Loya Jirga after its opening ceremony in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.
    • A police officer keeps watch at a vantage point overlooking the Loya Jirga tent in Kabul, Nov. 21, 2013.

    Karzai said eventhough he has a rocky relationship with the United States, Washington’s support is central to Afghanistan’s future.  He added that 10 years working experience showed him that peace is in U.S. hands and Afghans want peace and security.

    During the past decade, the Afghan leader has frequently criticized the United States, while Washington officials have expressed frustration that American sacrifices in Afghanistan have not always been recognized.

    The Jirga members, including legal experts, religious scholars, intellectuals and activists, are expected to spend four days going over the details of the agreement.  Karzai called on them to think of the needs of their country while making their decision. He added that he does not have a personal representative in the gathering and that his only representative is national consensus on the interests and needs of Afghanistan.

    One of the more contentious points in the document is the question of legal jurisdiction.  The agreement states U.S. forces will not be arrested or detained by Afghan authorities, nor unilaterally transferred to an international tribunal.

    Instead, any wrongdoing will be judged by U.S. authorities. However, the Afghan authorities would be able to demand that particular personnel be removed from the country.

    Under the deal, the United States also pledges to seek funds on a yearly basis to support the Afghan national defense forces.  It also allows the  U.S. forces to have bases in Kabul and Bagram in the center of the country along with outposts in key strategic areas elsewhere in the country.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: thomas parmalee from: myrtle beach
    November 22, 2013 8:04 AM
    Yes great idea we have seen such a change in the Muslim portion of the world such unity in Syria and Egypt when we as American forces touched ground in Afghanistan we secured oli fields and poppy fields under careful american watch their country is now producing 90% of the worlds heroin trade kinda funny right we give guns to Mexican drug cartels to hahaha not a war on terror fueling Americans drug habit

    by: ali baba from: new york
    November 21, 2013 3:05 PM
    how much money to give them? why we are not use that money for social security or better health care.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora