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Nov-23-2013 23:16printcomments

Afghan Elders Support Immediate Signing of US Security Deal

Karzai shocked Washington by saying that he would not sign the pact until after the April 2015 presidential elections.
U.S. soldiers on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan. photo from Kabul, Afghanistan by Tim King

(KABUL) - Even as tribal elders discuss the details of a 10-year security pact with the United States, controversy is swirling over the Afghan president’s announcement that he would delay signing the deal for several months.

In a direct rebuke to Hamid Karzai, the head of a 2,500-strong gathering of tribal and community leaders on Saturday said if the assembly approves the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, the deal should be signed right away.

Karzai shocked Washington when, at the opening of the four-day Loya Jirga gathering, said he would not sign the pact until after the April 2015 presidential elections.

Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, leader of the Jirga and a former president of Afghanistan, reacted strongly.

"Mr. Karzai does not have the right to make such a comment," he said through a translator. "The president is wrong because all of his demands and wishes - all the things that we wanted - were accepted and implemented by the Americans."

Mojaddedi says the president's delay does not benefit Afghanistan.

Earlier, Karzai had said he would abide by the Jirga’s decisions. Washington has been negotiating with Kabul for more than a year on the details of the security deal.

The two sides said they had reached full agreement just hours before the Jirga opened on Thursday. Analyst Idriss Rahmani, of AIR Consulting, says Karzai is partly trying to gain more concessions, and partly trying to humiliate President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

“They gave President Karzai a really hard time since 2004, I guess," Rahmani said, "and being an Afghan and being an Afghan tribal chief, he would feel very much happy if he can get a chance to take a little bit of revenge.”

Source: Article by Sharon Behn, VOA News



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