Afghanistan’s newly elected president, Ashraf Ghani, made the signing of an extended security agreement with the U.S. one of his campaign promises. On the day after his inauguration, Ghani made good on his promise and the bilateral agreement was signed by Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar and U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham. The signing was televised from the presidential palace.
“As an independent country … we signed this agreement for stability, goodwill, and prosperity of the our people, stability of the region and the world,” Ghani said in a speech after the signing.
In his speech, Ghani also said that the agreement did not compromise Afghanistan’s sovereignty, and that either side has the right to withdraw from the pact within two years.
The same day, a similar agreement between Afghanistan and NATO was ratified to allow the alliance’s European members to contribute to a residual foreign force.
The agreement permits a foreign force of 12,000 military personnel to stay after the end of 2014, when the combat mission of Afghanistan’s U.S.-led NATO force ends.
Some 9,800 U.S. troops are expected to make up the bulk of the force, with the remainder coming from other NATO members. The force will train and assist Afghan security forces in the on-going war against the Taliban and its radical Islamist allies within Afghanistan.
Under the pact, the U.S. has the right to keep bases in Afghanistan as long as the security agreement is in force. In return, the U.S. Military will raise funds to train and equip the Afghan security forces, which now number 350,000.
Hopefully, the security agreement will prevent what is happening in Iraq from happening in Afghanistan. After the U.S. pulled all of its forces from Iraq in December 2011, insurgent groups, most notably al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, have been able to overrun Iraq’s security forces. The Islamic State has amassed huge parcels of land in both Iraq and Syria. Many American Veterans who fought in Iraq feel that the current instability in that country could have been prevented had the U.S. left ground forces in Iraq.
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Military Connection: US – Afghanistan Sign New Deal: By Debbie Gregory