US, Afghanistan agree on relationship after coalition forces leave

In this Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from Bravo Co., Division Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, stand with Afghan policemen before a joint patrol of Qalanderkhail, outside of Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.


By ALI SAFI | McClatchy Newspapers | Published: April 22, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai’s government Sunday announced an agreement on a long-term Afghan-U.S strategic partnership.

The agreement would ensure U.S involvement in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led coalition troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

The document was initialed by Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, and U.S Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the statement from the presidential palace said. Gavin Sundwall, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, said, “We are pleased that we are close to completing negotiations on strategic partnership.”

Spanta, in a written statement, said: “The document finalized today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region.”

President Barack Obama and Karzai are expected to sign the agreement before NATO summit next month in Chicago. Its contents were not made public.

Several hurdles had to be overcome to reach the agreement. Two of the major ones were the transfer of responsibility for the Bagram prison north of Kabul, and the “Afghanization” of special operations.

The Bagram prison was transferred to Afghanistan last month, and a special operations agreement by the Afghan forces was signed this month.

“Our goal is an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating al Qaida and its extremist affiliates,” Sundwall said.

Gul Ahmad Azami, a senator from western Farah province, said the agreement was in Afghanistan’s favor if the United States keeps all its commitments after signing it. He said the U.S. and its allies had promised the country a strong government based on the rule of law, “but they failed and instead they supported a corrupt government.” If the U.S. government repeats that mistake, the agreement will go nowhere, he said.