27 November 2013
Below Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty quotes me on why President Karzai is likely delaying the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States. Link available here.
Reading Karzai’s Mind
By Frud Bezhan
A contentious security deal between Afghanistan and the United States looked all but signed.
The Loya Jirga, a key national gathering of Afghan elders, had given its unanimous backing. All that was left was for both parliament and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to approve it.
But Karzai has stubbornly refused to sign the deal, a move that has infuriated Washington and baffled many Afghans. Here are several reasons why Karzai might be dragging out the process:
Reason No. 1: Karzai Thinks He Has Leverage
Karzai has played a high-stakes game over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) — making new demands, breaking promises, criticizing Washington, and defying the wishes of the Loya Jirga.
He says he will only sign the deal after April’s Afghan presidential election — and only if his new terms are met. These include the release of all Afghan prisoners held in the U.S.-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay and a complete halt to controversial U.S. raids on Afghan homes.
David Young, an adjunct fellow at the American Security Project in Washington, says that Karzai’s tactics could suggest a man who thinks he is in a position of strength and can get Washington to back down.
“Karzai is now effectively the sole remaining obstacle to the signing of the BSA. He holds all the cards,” Young says. “He is either trying to selfishly distance himself from his makers to improve his legacy or he irrationally believes that moving the goal posts at the last minute will yield concessions that would have been impossible to obtain during the BSA negotiations.”
Three main scenarios could play out: The United States could cave in to Karzai’s additional demands or Washington could act on its threat to pull out all its troops if the deal is not signed by the end of this year. Alternatively, Karzai could abandon his pressure tactics, leading to agreement.
It’s a risky strategy. Read the rest of this entry »