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Graham-Harrison begins: "Hopes that the US can fix conditions for a long-term military presence in Afghanistan before an unofficial May deadline are fading because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is not prepared to compromise on two demands that have stalled negotiations for months."

Wounded and tired US soldiers being evacuated from a battle in Afghanistan. (photo: Adam Dean Photography)
Wounded and tired US soldiers being evacuated from a battle in Afghanistan. (photo: Adam Dean Photography)



US-Afghanistan Deal in Danger as Karzai Holds Firm on Demands

By Emma Graham-Harrison, Guardian UK

02 March 12

 

opes that the US can fix conditions for a long-term military presence in Afghanistan before an unofficial May deadline are fading because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is not prepared to compromise on two demands that have stalled negotiations for months.

Washington and its allies want to have the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreed before May, when a Nato conference in Chicago is expected to pledge long-term help to Kabul with finances and military training.

But negotiations have dragged on for over a year and Karzai is adamant he will not give ground on his two main demands – for Afghan control of jails and an end to night-time raids on Afghan homes.

Western officials say the first is not practical and the second would compromise the military effort.

"If they don't change their position there will be no strategic partnership before Chicago," said a senior Afghan official familiar with the negotiations. "We are not willing to compromise when it comes to sovereignty."

The strategic partnership deal would allow US forces to stay in some current large bases in Afghanistan, to help train Afghan soldiers and police. The bases could also be used for drone strikes on militant areas in Pakistan.

The deal would give western leaders a security rationale for spending money in Afghanistan after combat troops are withdrawn in 2014, and also aims to reassure Afghans the west will not cut and run.

A string of top diplomats and politicians have urged Karzai to sign.

"The Afghan government, especially the Afghan president, is under a lot of pressure from all sides – there are some indirect threats being made as well," said the Afghan official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

But Karzai has long said that for a deal to go ahead the US must hand over all jails on Afghan soil to his government's control and end controversial night-time hunts for insurgents and their supporters.

He repeated that position in a phone call earlier this week with the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was urging Karzai to sign the deal ahead of the Chicago summit, according to the presidential palace.

"Before the US-Afghan strategic partnership document can be signed, the foreigners have to respect the national sovereignty of Afghanistan," a palace statement, released late on Wednesday, quoted Karzai telling Rasmussen.

"No Afghan [prisoners] should be in the hands of foreigners, and foreign troops should hand over all the jails they have now to the Afghan government, and stop the night raids."

US officials had suggested resolving the impasse by hiving off the two most controversial points into a separate document and agreeing to hash them out later, but Karzai has rejected that as a compromise of Afghan sovereignty.

"The US idea is not accepted at all, we have to reach an agreement on these two points before signing any strategic partnership document," the official said.

The US is reluctant to hand over jails in part because Afghanistan's judicial system does not currently have the capacity to run them.

Night raids are contentious because western military commanders consider them perhaps the most effective tool in their arsenal, saying they take out senior leaders with minimal risk to innocent civilians.

Afghan leaders say they are dangerous and intrusive, cause too many deaths of non-combatants and turn Afghans against the war.

Diplomatic manoeuvres that put Afghans officially in charge of prisons while leaving US forces organising day-to-day management, or gave US troops a role providing intelligence and support to Afghan-led night raids, could resolve some of the difficulties.

But western diplomats warn that Karzai may be badly misjudging the mood in an economically battered America, whose diplomats are also distracted by security concerns in other volatile areas from Syria and Yemen to Somalia.

"The Afghans still really believe that the Americans need to be here," said one senior Kabul diplomat who asked not to be named.

"I think they are underestimating how much things have changed, and US concerns are focused elsewhere – and they cannot manage without this support."

The World Bank forecasts Kabul will have a $7bn (£4.4bn) hole in its annual budget after 2014.

Mining projects may one day allow it to be self-sufficient, but they are in the very early stages of development, so foreign cash will be needed for years to pay the army.

While several other nations have signed their own long-term strategic deals – Britain has promised an officer training academy modelled on Sandhurst – all of them are unofficially contingent on a US deal; without an American lead, no one wants to stay.

The US embassy insists that there is no timeline for a deal, although repeated unofficial deadlines have passed without anything being pinned down.

"We are not going to comment on ongoing negotiations," said Gavin Sundwall, spokesman for the US embassy in Kabul.

"We want to get the right agreement, not necessarily a quick agreement, so there are no timelines."

 

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+1 # Willman 2012-03-02 16:45
Karzai wouldn't even be where he is today if it wasn't for the US and its military. Who does he think he is?
I think he is a misguided individual. If we pulled out he would be gone right quick.

The whole Afghanistan deal has gone on way too long and a lot of our nations treasure has been lost. Not to mention the money involved.
 
 
+25 # Rick Levy 2012-03-02 17:12
Let's get the f**k out of that swamp. It's not worth the cost of more American lives and fortune. If the U.S. really wants to put the hurt on terrorism, then go after Saudi Arabia.
 
 
+3 # giraffee2012 2012-03-02 21:54
Levy - u took the words out of my mouth! There is nothing to WIN there and our poor "men on the ground" are committing suicide in greater numbers than those killed in the sand-pit! How long can one live in terror and not suffer? When they come home - they still have the fear. And our news media is so creepy - so ....

Vote DEM Vote Obama - anything else will be living under the "Third Reich" - or worse - with the "inquisition" and worse
 
 
0 # John Locke 2012-03-03 08:24
Yup giraffee2012; Obama is a real leader. He gave us the NDAA which was so badly needed to protect the status quo!

Vote for him again, I shudder to think what Wall Streets plan is for him during the next 4 years. Or even Romney for that matter!

I suspect more wars! Syria, Iran, Somalia? What better way to control us?

How much longer will people continue to hide their head in the sand? What will it take to wake you up to the reality that the two parties are controlled by Wall Street Money?

What is the difference about Obama when he gives the Republicans what ever they want is he not a republican at least by default?
 
 
+2 # frankdavid 2012-03-02 21:45
Even more of a reason to get out now. Let them kill each other as they have for centuries. Not one more dime for this morass.

And karzai won't live a week when we leave.
 
 
+6 # Dave45 2012-03-02 21:56
The sad, underlying truth in all this is the reality that the US has no intention of leaving Afghanistan. Certainly, for political purposes, the US will make a show of leaving by restationing a few thousand of its troops to other bases. However, the US has shown little respect either for Afghan sovereignty or Afghan laws and has no intention of honoring either in the future. It is worthwhile mentioning that once again we see the hypocrisy of US foreign policy in that the US, in spite of its imperialistic assumption that it has the right to legislate its own desires in Afghanistan, refuses to allow its own soldiers and others to be subjected to the laws of that country. This is foreign policy, American style.
 
 
+12 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-02 22:22
It doesn't matter what Karzai does or doesn't want or do: the Afghans don't want foreign invaders there --- never did and never will. Add tot that the decentralized cultures who will refuse to accept any strong central government capabale of making such decisions and any long term presense is doomed from the start. Add to that the terrain which makes such domination impossible. There are good reasons, cultural, historical, and logistically why Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires.

Afghans like minding their own business as far as the rest of the world goes, and they want the rest of the world to do the same regarding Afghanistan. They don't much like being bombed and murdered either -- funny thing about that in all the countries any empire does that to.
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2012-03-03 08:56
More U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Feb. 1 2012 by their supposed Afghan allies — six — than in combat with the Taliban — just two —

They Don't want the US There, and we do not belong there. Its time to stop the madness of EMPIRE and take care of our own people.

In the past several years, USAID alone has built more than 680 schools, more than 670 clinics, and reconstructed more than 3,000 km of roads in Afghanistan alone, and there is a need for thousands of more schools, clinics, and kilometers of road. We need the same infrastructure investment in the US. But that is not Wall Streets Plan!

The 33,000 troops who will return home by the end of next year match the numbers sent to Afghanistan in 2010 (by Obama), at a cost of about $30 billion. That comes out to about $1 million a soldier.

For the past decade, Congress has had no problem spending more than $120 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to rebuild schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, America's roads, bridges, tunnels, and schools are crumbling and millions of people are out of work.
It's time for Congress to rebuild America and invest as much in our own communities as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also time to stop America as an empire!
 
 
+3 # Smiley 2012-03-03 09:39
We have destroyed a hell of a lot more infrastructure in Iraq than we ever have rebuilt there.
 
 
+1 # John Locke 2012-03-04 07:52
Smiley: Yes and wasn't that a complete waste of both their and our own resources. Perhaps if Bush hadn’t lied to us we would not have wasted Iraq and maybe the million civilians we killed as collateral damage might still be alive?
 
 
+7 # Gerardo 2012-03-03 03:35
Karzai knows exactly what he is doing, he is working overtime to see the US and it's allies leave Afghanistan. William? Do you think the US has the only card game in town? Do you think that Karzai doesn't have communications with China? Russia? Iran? A similar tactic was used by the Iraqis to get the US to pull it's combat troops from that nation. The graveyard of empires? Sure seems so! A military academy modeled after Sandhurst? Gimme a break would jah? Promises promises. Promises made will be promises broken, one can be assured of that! England is close behind Spain, Greece and Portugal, it's very place in the world depends soley upon London being a banking and finacial center. They English and Americans are like mad scientist, trying feverishly to prevent their aging, smoking, squeaking, clanging, knocking, and vibrating machine from coming apart. It's only a matter of time, they know it, we know it, and Karzai knows it. The emerging economic powerhouses of China and India are who Karzai and the the Afhgans will want to align themselves with, and they are. Western attempts to deny the East energy supplies, and throw their societies into chaos, derailing development plans, are bound to backfire, just as US support for the Mujahideen did. It took about 13 years to receive the results of those poor judegments. Americans have NO interest in the welfare of the Afghan people, to say they do is nothing more than hogwash. It's money, resources, and control.
 
 
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-03 07:20
If Afghanistan "needs" us it's an excuse to stay indefinitely.

If Afghanistan wants us to leave, THAT'S an excuse to stay indefinitely.

The same scenario played out in Iraq. If Iraq is ever ruled by another leader who forces the global oil cartel out, we'll be back in "protecting human rights". In the meantime, are all the mercenaries out of Iraq?

This is a shell game and American emotions are being tweeked for profit. The news is nothing more than a paid advertisement for endless war for profit.
 
 
0 # ojkelly 2012-03-03 08:44
Karzai is a Pashto tribeman and he doesn't want to have to move to Hawaii like his predeccessor fearless democratic freedom loving hero Nguyen Van Thieu. Karzai's clan left the kebab houses of NJ to make hundreds of millions. The those "tribal areas" are where his cousins live http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Areas_pachtun.jpg
 
 
0 # jwb110 2012-03-03 09:29
Cut and run!
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-03-03 10:04
Wonder if the US/CIA will end up doing to Karzai what they did to Bin Laden, Hussein and so many others when they ceased to become "Our bad guy"?
For those of you who have amnesia, Bin Laden's Mujahadeen were armed by "guess who?" in their conflict with the Soviets and Saddam was a darling of "guess who?" when they attacked Iran (remember that photo of his warm handshake with Rumsfeld).
Just lookin' at recent history.
 
 
+5 # RMDC 2012-03-03 14:23
The US military lost in Afghanistan and Iraq in the same way it lost in Vietnam. It can kill millions of people and destroy whole nations but it cannot make any people like it or admire it. Afghans hate americans. They know that US soldiers are brutal and vicious killers. The fact that the officers in Afghanistan won't stop the "night raids" proves their sadism.

The other thing is that the US military is in Afghanistan for its heroin trade. It really does not care what the Afghan people do as long as the heroin keeps flowing out and into the cities of the rest of the world. It will hang on for very long in order to keep its heroin business going. That's the real point of this war.
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-03-03 20:18
The people who are talking about how Karzai doesn't realize the feeling in America are the same people who don't realize the feeling in Afghanistan. We by and large see no reason to stay there. They by and large see no reason to want us there.
 

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