Karzai Refuses to Budge on Security Pact

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Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul Nov. 24, 2013.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai vented his frustration over continuing civilian casualties and home raids during NATO operations on Saturday, reiterating that he will not sign a key security agreement with the United States until Afghans stop getting caught in Western troops’ crossfire.

“I hope the United States is not going to put us in a situation where they say you either accept that we will give you billions, and in return we will have the right to attack your homes,” Karzai said, speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Dec. 14.

Karzai has refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, which would keep some 15,000 foreign troops stationed around the country after most NATO forces are set to withdraw by the end of next year.

The BSA was endorsed in November by the Loya Jirga, a national assembly of Afghan elders who also urged the president to sign it by the end of the year.

But Karzai has said since that Afghanistan will not approve the pact until the U.S. ends attacks on civilians and their homes and helps initiate a peace process with the Taliban. “We have homes. We have families. We have mothers. We have children,” Karzai said. “And we have sensitivities that have to be respected.”

The clock is ticking. U.S. officials have said they will have to start preparing for a so-called “zero option” if the BSA is not signed soon. “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,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice told Karzai during a brief visit to Afghanistan in November, according to reports.

It’s a scenario that also puts billions of aid dollars flowing into the country at risk, and which many inside and outside the country worry will create a security vacuum and lead to a deadly escalation in violence. While Karzai himself seemed dismissive of the warning, calling it “brinkmanship” on Washington’s part, he acknowledged its impact could be harsh. “The zero option will have consequences for us, no doubt… We will be short of resources. Our military and police will suffer.”

It is, nevertheless, a risk the mercurial leader seems willing to take. As he prepares to step down from office after national elections slated for April, the Afghan President must be privately considering what legacy he will leave, and some have speculated that he may not want to be the leader remembered for having signed off on an ongoing U.S. military presence on Afghan soil.

Karzai, for his part, insists the stalemate is about respecting Afghan lives. During the Delhi briefing, he recalled a visit he made to a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in a U.S. hospital who was a victim of a bomb attack by Western forces pursuing the Taliban. He said fourteen members of the girl’s family were killed in the attack, and the explosion left her without a face.

“When I stood watching her, I really felt, ‘God why have you kept her alive? What life will she have without a family… and without a face?’” Afghanistan cannot agree to a security pact while Western troops continue to create this kind of collateral damage, he said. “How can you have the right to kill an entire family in the pursuit of a Talib that they think is sitting in the same bus?” he asked. “It is this that I want to stop.”

The Afghan leader was on an official visit to India, during which he met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss regional security, military cooperation between the two nations, and the BSA, among other things.

8 comments
crygdyllyn
crygdyllyn

If we remember, the Afghan war started by the pursuit of Bin Laden. Since Bin Laden is dead, what is our justification to be in Afghanistan? We have none. 

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Given the sentiment of the President of the host country, the US has no choice but to move all of our troops home. We must however, maintain a strong presence to protect our interests and not leave a vacuum for the Chinese.

yamz1
yamz1

After reading a few of these comments...I find it's no surprise Americans are considered crass, ignorant people.

ashmahishi
ashmahishi

As in Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq... Americans throwing thousands of innocent lives under the bulldozer of our merciless "civilization". Future generations of Afghans will scare their children by Western monsters and will compose songs and ballads of "terrorists" who resisted them... Afghans defeated every single army that had invaded its land in the past... our Marines will leave behind dead men, women and children and their own corpses and body parts, but they will fail all the same...

meddevguy
meddevguy

The cowardly Taliban murderers dress in civilian garb, hide in civilian houses, and fire on troops from homes. The reason any combatant not in a recognized uniform is given a quick firing squad is to protect the civilians. Karzai's statement is basically "Taliban welcome home".

If for five years we have told Karzai, and everyone else who will listen, that we have no desire to fight for anyone including ourselves, what exactly do you expect him to do to gain power for when we pull out. We had driven the Taliban out of Afghanistan five years ago and left a government that could progress with its people. The worst foreign policy in history has grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory and left us yet another enemy in the area.

The guy is laughing at us as the wimps we are, just like Iran and [fill in the blanks].

Bluhorizon
Bluhorizon

It is the holiday season and all we can do is hope Santa does us all a big favor by putting coal in our stockings as opposed to any pact with Afghanistan which might keep any US troops there one day longer than necessary. 


Afghanistan is a kleptocracy with a government instituted with electoral fraud and a people deeply committed to living in the 7th century.  They are quite comfortable stealing our money and growing 98% of the world's opium.  Once cannot call them a fallen people because they never rose.  


Let us all pray to the Great 'Clause to palsy the hand that might sign any treaty with Afghanistan.  But also, leave a note for Santa to keep his reindeer off Afghani roofs--they have gotten so good at stealing aide they might nick our presents.

jem4802
jem4802

Well if the Afghanis are afraid of being hit by bombs, perhaps they should get out of the way, and stop harboring terrorists. Most Americans could care less if he signs the agreement or not. We would be delighted to bring everyone home, and use all that lovely money to rebuild OUR country. His life expectancy is about 15 minutes after we leave.  Happy Holidays!

Bry2013
Bry2013

@ashmahishi Whatever.  For someone who has never "served" ANYTHING other than themselves you seem to have all the answers