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.
Sharon Behn
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.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

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