Mishandling the BSA Negotiations
Despite that the Loya Jirga has endorsed the security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, President Karzai is once again endangering a long-term Afghanistan-US security partnership by delaying sighing of the critical document. In an effort to resolve the last-minute differences and gauge the stance of the Afghan government over the security agreement after Jirga endorsement, US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice visited Kabul and met President Hamid Karzai. Seemingly, the visit yielded no immediate results for resolving the issue. Reportedly, Karzai has raised a number of other demands from the US. Though the endorsement of the deal has been viewed as a success, President Karzai’s ongoing defiance to the US over the security deal is not a good sign for Kabul and Washington to be able to secure a robust agreement that creates an extensive long-term partnership.
The recent differences emerged between the two countries will potentially result to delay in signing the bilateral security agreement between the two countries. For the political spectrum of Afghanistan, this is of high concerns, given the urgent need for conclusion of the agreement. In recent days, many political parties have echoed the Loya Jirga, calling on President Karzai to sign the agreement soon, as requested by the Jirga. The widespread concerns expressed by politicians, activists, civil organizations, media and ordinary citizens is in fact the right call on the government to finalize the security agreement as quickly as possible. Given the popular demand for finalization of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the US, there seems to be no proper justification for the government to further delay signing of the agreement.
The approval of the security agreement between Kabul and Washington was a success for Afghanistan, paving the way for a smooth transition of security to Afghans and continued support of the international community. At a time when the Afghan security forces need a sustained support from the NATO, securing a long-term deal with the US is critical for maintaining the international security cooperation and support to Afghanistan. This success is particularly highlighted when we remember the widespread fears about possible failure of the negotiations for producing a credible outcome that would guarantee a long-term international support to Afghanistan. And ultimately, President Karzai’s role in handling the Jirga affairs and convincing its participants to approve the deal was remarkable.
In the run-up to the national assembly, President Karzai made remarkable efforts to convince the participants to approve the agreement, reasoning that the future of the country was at stake. He sought to convince the representatives by saying that all regional countries were in favor the deal with the US, except Iran, and that if the US exits from the country; all other allied nations of the US will pull out from Afghanistan. And, finally the participants of the Jirga made the right judgment and supported the security agreement. However, now it is confusing for many that why the President jeopardizes the agreement with delaying to sign it. President Karzai had better to engage constructively with the US over the election and Afghanistan’s sovereignty. And, timely signing of the security agreement is crucial not only for NATO planning but also for strengthening of Afghanistan’s ongoing security and political transition.