US-Afghanistan Relations Worsen With Karzai’s Refusal To Sign Agreement
A majority of Afghans support the security deal reached with the US, but President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign off until his demands are met. The security agreement specifies the terms under which U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to assist the government.
Those demands, which were not part of the original deal, include a cessation of US raids on Afghan homes and the release of Afghan prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. In response to Karzai’s intransigence, US security adviser Susan Rice said that plans to leave at the end of 2014 would remain in place.
“Without a prompt signature, the U.S. would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan,” said Rice, according to a White House statement.
On Sunday, an assembly of Afghan elders, known as the Loya Jirga, endorsed the security pact, but Karzai suggested he might not sign it until after national elections next spring.
The deterioration of relations has some analysts concerned. Mirwais Muqbil, a Kabul-based political consultant, told Voice of America that Karzai’s refusal to sign the agreement is “a disastrous step and it will have dire consequences on the political and social situation in Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also addressed the situation late last week saying that the agreement was critical to his department’s ability to plan for the 2014 withdrawal.
“I think it would put the United States in a very, very difficult decision. Until we have a signed bilateral security agreement that essentially gives us then the assurance that we need to go forward, I don’t think the president is going to commit to anything. He’s said that, and my advice to him would be to not. We need to be sure that our forces in any future role there are protected,” said Hagel.