With the increasing insecurity and continued war in Afghanistan, criticism regarding Afghanistan’s security agreement with the U.S has been raised. Since four years have passed from the signing of the agreement, a number of movements as well as politicians and former officials came together on September 12, 2018, and asked for the evaluation of the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States of America (BSA).
A number of Parliament Members (PMs) have also acknowledged the demand of some political parties and movements regarding the evaluation of the BSA and have concluded that there is a strong need to evaluate the BSA, taking the current security situation in the country into account. Afghan Chief Executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, in response to these demands, however, said: “we should question the BSA for the sake of our personal interests, as this action will not contribute to security and improving security situation in the country.”
The Analysis discusses BSA, the situation in Afghanistan after signing the BSA and the need for reviewing the BSA.
Afghanistan-U.S Security Agreement
Ex-President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the BSA as, according to him, there was no guarantee from the United States for peace and the end of war in Afghanistan after signing the BSA. Nevertheless, after the National Unity Government (NUG) was established, it signed the BSA with the United States of America on the day after it was sworn into office.
Four years ago, the Agreement was signed between Afghan National Security Advisor, Mohammad Hanif Atmar and U.S. ambassador James Cunningham in Kabul on September 30, 2014. Consequently, the agreement was approved by the Afghan Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) in a short period of time.
Overall, the BSA has a total of 26 articles and two annexes the important points of which are as follow:
- On the basis of BSA, the Afghan government provides the United States with the right to establishment of military bases in important and strategic points of Afghanistan, like, Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Helmand, Gardiz and Jalalabad.
- Desiring to continue to foster close cooperation concerning defense and security arrangements in order to strengthen security and stability in Afghanistan, contribute to regional and international peace and stability, combat terrorism and enhance the ability of Afghanistan to deter threats against its sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity.
- The Parties shall work to enhance ANDSF’s ability to deter and respond to internal and external threats. Upon request, the United States shall urgently determine support it is prepared to provide ANDSF in order to respond to threats to Afghanistan’s security.
- The parties acknowledge that U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism.
- It is the duty of members of the force and of the civilian component to respect the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan and to abstain from any activity inconsistent with the spirit of this Agreement and, in particular, from any political activity in the territory of Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan, while retaining its sovereignty, recognizes the particular importance of disciplinary control, including judicial and non-judicial measures, by United States forces authorities over members of the force and of the civilian component. Afghanistan therefore agrees that the United States shall have the exclusive right to exercise jurisdiction over such persons in respect of any criminal or civil offenses committed in the territory of Afghanistan. Members of the force and of the civilian component shall not be arrested or detained by Afghan authorities. Members of the force and of the civilian component arrested or detained by Afghan authorities for any reason, including by Afghan law enforcement authorities, shall be immediately handed over to United States forces authorities.
- The Parties shall coordinate in the development of Afghanistan’s defense and security forces, equipment, material, facilities, operational doctrine, and institutions to achieve standardization and interoperability with NATO, in order to promote further the effective utilization and maintenance of defense and security assistance provided to Afghanistan, and to maximize the benefits of cooperation between ANDSF and United States forces. This coordination shall not preclude Afghanistan from procuring independently equipment and material for ANDSF from non-NATO countries with its own resources.
Consequences of Security Agreement with U.S
Mainly, the commitments made by the United States to the Afghan government through BSA, to a large extent, do not generate any obligation for U.S. The most important articles of the Agreement are as follows; financing and equipping Afghan military forces, struggle for maintaining peace and stability, cooperation on rebuttal of internal and external threats against severity, security, territorial integrity of Afghanistan and combatting all terrorism.
The situation in Afghanistan after four years since the signing of the BSA is as follows:
Security situation: After signing the BSA, the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated day by day, the war expanded to the Northern provinces of the country and the Taliban started to carry out aggressive attacks. The Kunduz city fell to the hands of the Taliban for the first time after 2001 and following the signing of the BSA. Despite Kunduz, Farah and Ghazni were two other provinces which the Taliban were able to control for several days. The ISIS group emerged in the period and remarkably expanded in the last three years and has continuously claimed responsibility for deadly attacks/explosions in the country. The civilian casualties have also increased; based on the latest statistics of the United Nations, almost 40 thousands civilians have been killed and injured in Afghanistan in the past four years of the National Unity Government (NUG). Above all, close to half of the Afghan territory is controlled by the government’s armed opposition, according to reports of various international organs.
Political Situation: After the NUG was established and BSA with the U.S was signed, the political situation has been lacking stability. The disputes between leaders of NUG at the beginning, followed by opposition of legislative against executive, confrontation of a number of senior government officials against the government and formation of coalitions by present government authorities have put the country’s political stability in a condition where the government, after four years, is yet to be able to bring its cabinet out of the acting-Minister position.
Economic Situation: the security agreement not only affected the country’s political and security situation, but it also could not bring any noteworthy changes in the Afghan economy either. Although a number of infrastructure projects were completed or inaugurated in public, revenue was increased (due to tax on telecommunication networks’ credit cards) in the last four years; however, the overall economic situation deteriorated in comparison to the last one and a half decade. The value of Afghani (currency) has reached to its lowest level (the value of one Afghani against US Dollar was 57.76 in 2015; however it is currently 75.30), the unemployment rate is on the peak, The country is facing the outflow of capital and the country’s economic growth is also on the decrease. Almost 40 per cent of Afghans live below the poverty line and, according to the statistics of the World Bank, approximately 2 million eligible Afghans are unemployed.
Need for Reviewing Security Agreement with the U.S
Currently, we can conclude that the Afghan security, political and economic situation has deteriorated after the signing of BSA in last four years.
BSA between Afghanistan and the United States was full of ambiguity from the very beginning. Not a small group of individuals, but a masses of individuals and institutions were against the signing of BSA. However, without conducting a deep discussion on it or without considering its negative consequences for Afghanistan, it was signed by the NUG as quick as possible, and approved by the Parliament, which now asks for its review, with only 5 No votes and 3 abstaining votes.
By and large, the demands for the evaluation of BSA arose much later. There are views that these demands are brought to the table by a number of politicians to put pressure on the government and to achieve their political aims, and by some others who have been directed by regional countries that are against the U.S presence in Afghanistan. Yet, for the purpose of preventing of deterioration of the country’s situation and for it not to be turned into a second Syria, it is an essential necessity for the Afghan society to focus on peace talks instead of war and misery and to put an end to the several-decade old tragedy of Afghanistan through negotiations for stability and peace in the country.