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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs