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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora