Will Karzai sign the deal or won't he is the question giving sleepless nights to the Washington warlords. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is playing coy about signing the deal that would allow US forces to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely under the erroneously labeled Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). Will Afghanistan come to America's rescue if the latter were attacked? The US wants a free hand in Afghanistan after 2014.
December 28, 2013, 15:07 EST
A suicide bomb attack that targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul, killed three NATO soldiers and wounding 6 Afghans on Friday (December 27). The attack took place half a mile from NATO’s Camp Phoenix. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the insurgent group was behind the attack.
The attack illustrated the precarious situation in Afghanistan, in which the Karzai government, the US, and Taliban continue to jockey for power over the war-torn country. According to the tally kept by the Associated Press, 151 NATO troops have been killed this year.
The attack has corresponded with the impending deal to be signed between Karzai and the US forces that will give the US the green light to stay indefinitely beyond the 2014 deadline that Obama originally declared. The continued US military presence while projected to train the Afghan army into an adequate security force, is primarily to prevent other countries from penetrating into Afghanistan and interfering with US projects to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and geostrategic advantages. The original deadline for brokering a deal with the Karzai government was December 31, 2013. With end year only a few days away, the Obama administration is backing off from this deadline in order to gain more time and pin Karzai to sign a concrete agreement with the Pentagon.
Karzai has not budged, despite threats by top US officials, including the national security advisor Susan Rice. While the Afghan loya Jirga agreed to continued US military presence, Karzai is attempting to hold out for a better deal from the US. “I want this security agreement with the US,” said Karzai in an off-the-record meeting with Afghan journalists last Sunday. “But Afghans’ homes should be protected from American operations, and Afghanistan should not become the battleground of a continuous war.”
In the meeting, Karzai also allegedly said that he would sign “as soon as they are ready to accept our conditions, because we are not in a rush.” Some Afghan politicians have speculated that Karzai is trying to gain some form of credibility with his people—the Taliban’s relative popularity is in stark contrast to his do-nothing government steeped in corruption. Karzai’s personal ambitions are also a noteworthy factor in the waiting game that he is playing with the US.
In Afghanistan’s presidential elections due in April 2014, Karzai may be trying to wring Washington’s tacit support for his favored nominees. Karzai's brother, Quayum Karzai, and his close aide and former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul, are among the top presidential contenders.
According to Said Azam, a Kabul based political commentator cited in the Voice of America’s coverage of the deal, “[Karzia] wants to have a strong say in forthcoming administration because he does not want to be seen just as an ex-president without having any particular leverage over decisions being made over the next five to ten years.”