U.S.-Afghanistan Agreement Hinges on Immunity for American Troops

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
U.S. night raid in Afghanistan

The Obama administration wants to keep a military presence, one that presumably would include Special Forces, in Afghanistan after the U.S. pulls out most of its existing units by the end of next year. But such a plan hinges on signing a new bilateral agreement with the Afghan government that would grant American soldiers immunity from local laws and prosecution.


Secretary of State John Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week and reportedly reached a preliminary understanding on a new security pact. But Karzai insisted he could not unilaterally approve the deal with the immunity provision, saying tribal leaders would have to okay it.


So the agreement must go before a Loya Jirga, which can include hundreds and as many as a thousand elders, leaders and other influential people.


If the assembly does not approve the plan, the U.S. is unlikely to keep any forces in Afghanistan after 2014.


But Western diplomats reportedly are optimistic that the Loya Jirga will okay the agreement, as long as Karzai backs it.


The Afghan leader has been critical of American military operations, but agreed as part of the deal to allow the U.S. to continue operating counterterrorism missions, which usually are conducted by Special Forces, on Afghan territory.


The United States already has immunity deals for American troops stationed in Japan and South Korea.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S., Afghans Agree Most of Pact, Elders to Make Final Decision (by Lesley Wroughton and Jessica Donati, Reuters)

'Iraq Replay': Kerry Demands Immunity for US Troops in Afghanistan (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)

No Agreement on Troop Immunity in Afghanistan after Kerry Trip (by Becky Bratu, NBC News)



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