KABUL: The US bid to run unilateral counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan after 2014 is threatening to derail a security pact between both countries, an Afghan spokesman said, underlining Kabul’s tenuous ties with its main backer.
Most foreign combat troops are due to leave by the end of 2014, and the US has been putting pressure on Afghanistan to finalise a bilateral security agreement by the end of this month. The pact will set out terms of a US presence after 2014, followed by similar deals with other countries such as Germany and Italy.
But two issues have emerged as potential “deal breakers”, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said late on Tuesday.
One is a US desire to run independent counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan after 2014, Faizi said. The other is a US refusal to agree to a wide-reaching promise to protect Afghanistan from foreign aggression.
Karzai has long opposed operations in Afghanistan by US special operations forces and the CIA, particularly when they run the risk of causing civilian casualties.
“These things are strongly related to our sovereignty,” Faizi said. “We find it to be something that will definitely undermine our sovereignty, if we allow the US forces to have the right to conduct unilateral military operations.”
Negotiations on the pact have been going on since November last year but have hit hurdles.
Karzai suspended talks in June in response to the opening of a Taliban office in the Gulf state of Qatar, when the Taliban displayed their banner and flag, a reminder of their repressive rule over Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
“We still believe that this is a very important agreement and we want to sign,” Faizi said, adding that the president’s signature would be no small matter.
“He will definitely be held accountable by history and by the people of Afghanistan if things go wrong,” he said. A US official in Kabul disagreed that the issues Faizi identified threatened to derail talks, but declined to elaborate or give details. Reuters