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US-Afghan security pact serves Afghan interests: officials

By Sulaiman


American soldiers greet their Afghan National Defence and Security Force partners after arriving at the Helmand Provincial Police Headquarters in Lashkargah, Afghanistan, July 9, 2017. [CENTCOM]

KABUL -- Calls by some Afghan politicians to revisit and review the terms of the US and Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) are meant to serve their personal interests -- not Afghanistan's, say high ranking officials in the Afghan government.

The BSA serves the interests of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, and any calls to review, revise or cancel the agreement undermine Afghanistan, they explain.

The row emerged unexpectedly last Wednesday (September 12) when Hamid Karzai, the former president -- who has long engaged in anti-US rhetoric and whose administration initially negotiated the pact but then refused to sign it in 2014 against popular will -- proposed the Afghan government review the terms of the agreement.


Former Afghan National Security Adviser Muhammad Hanif Atmar (R) and former US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) sign the BSA document as President Ashraf Ghani (2R) and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (centre) look on in Kabul September 30, 2014. [SHAH MARAI/AFP]


A US Army soldier and an Afghan Special Forces commando react to a simulated event during a military exercise in the United States on Sept. 15, 2018. Regional Co-operation is an annual exercise conducted by multiple national partners focusing on stability operations, border security and control, counter-terrorism, counter narcotics, and counter-proliferation. [CENTCOM]


Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (left) and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis (right) are shown at the Pentagon last November 17. [Office of the Chief Executive]

He accused the United States of failing to deliver on its promises in accordance with the BSA.

Karzai's calls met ridicule and outrage from members of the current administration as well as from Afghan analysts who say annulling the pact would only help benefit Afghanistan's adversaries, including terrorist groups, Iran and Russia.

Personal gain, destructive political ambitions

The Afghan people do not want to revise or cancel the security agreement with the United States, Chief Executive Abdullah said Monday (September 17).

"Our country has been in a difficult situation for the past four decades, and Afghanistan is still under attack by terrorist groups," Abdullah said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

"Questioning and reviewing the security agreement with the United States, which has been approved by the Loya Jirga [grand council], and has been signed by the government, won't help in improving the security and stability of the country," he said.

"Enemies of Afghanistan have been using the presence of international forces in our country as an excuse," Abdullah said. "The fact of the matter, however, is that there were problems and terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda long before foreign troops arrived in Afghanistan. Terrorists were based in Afghanistan, threatening the whole world from this very base. Afghans were also victims."

"Questioning the security agreement with the United States is not the demand of the Afghan people," he added. "And no one, regardless of [his or her] name or title, can represent Afghans in revising or annulling this agreement."

"The political opponents of the [Afghan] government and those who have brought up the issue of revisiting and revising the [BSA] are aware of the sensitive circumstances of Afghanistan," Abdullah said. "Unfortunately, however, they are stirring up this issue for reasons like personal gain and benefit or previous ambitions that have remained unfulfilled."

"Revising the security agreement would not help improve the security situation," he continued.

Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Afghanistan's second vice president, echoed these sentiments on Tuesday (September 18).

Members of parliament should not undermine Afghanistan to emphasise their political differences, he said, according to TOLOnews. Doing so would cause Afghanistan to "backslide", he warned.

"If some items of the agreement have not been implemented, the Afghan government can ask the United States to act upon those items so that we can witness more progress in areas like the fight against the Taliban and [the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS)]," said Mohammad Abdo, a member of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) from Balkh Province.

Peddling Iranian and Russian interests

"Terrorists still threaten our country and our population," Najibullah Kabuli, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga and chairman of the Hezb-i-Musharikat Milli political party, told Salaam Times.

"Under the current situation in Afghanistan, the revision or cancellation of the US-Afghan security agreement makes no sense," he said. "Those who insist on cancelling this agreement are doing so on orders from neighbouring countries, especially Iran."

"This security agreement is in the interest of Afghanistan," he added. "Those who want to terminate it are not protecting Afghanistan ... but are seeking to fulfill their personal and group goals."

"Those who work for themselves and for Afghanistan's neighbours seek to revisit or annul the security agreement with the United States," said Nabi Mesdaq, a Kabul-based political analyst.

"Annulling this agreement ... will undermine security forces' fight against terrorism," he told Salaam Times.

"The [BSA] was approved by the representatives of all Afghanistan in the Loya Jirga," he said. "According to the constitution, nobody, even the Wolesi Jirga, can revise or annul it."

Undermining the fight against terrorism

"In accordance with this agreement, the United States provides a substantial amount of financial support to the [Afghan] government and security forces, so that our forces can be better financed and better equipped," said Hamed Akbari, 38, a teacher at Mohammad Alam Faizad High School in Kabul.

"If this agreement is to be annulled, the fight against terrorism will become very difficult for the government and the security forces of Afghanistan," he told Salaam Times.

"If the [BSA] is cancelled, neighbouring countries and terrorist groups will benefit the most, while the inhabitants of Afghanistan are the ones who will suffer and will become victims of Afghanistan's neighbours and terrorists' proxy wars, like in the past," Akbari said.

If the security agreement with the United States is cancelled, Afghanistan's achievements for the past 17 years will be wasted, according to Zakaria Zakaria, a member of the Wolesi Jirga.

"The [BSA], in accordance with which the United States provides $5 billion annually to the [Afghan] government, has meant better financing and equipping of the security forces while also strengthening them in their fight against terrorist groups," he told Salaam Times.

"Afghanistan's countless gains in the past 17 years will be lost if this agreement is nullified, and our neighbours will once again help terrorists rule over us," he said. "If the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, our country will once again become a safe haven for terrorists, while anarchism and even civil wars similar to the previous ones will present themselves."

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