Saturday, November 1, 2014

Statement by the President of the United States on the Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 2014

 

Statement by the President on the Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan

Today we mark an historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan. After nearly two years of hard work by negotiating teams on both sides, earlier today in Kabul the United States and the new Afghan Government of National Unity signed a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). This agreement represents an invitation from the Afghan Government to strengthen the relationship we have built over the past 13 years and provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out two critical missions after 2014: targeting the remnants of Al Qaeda and training, advising, and assisting Afghan National Security Forces. The signing of the BSA also reflects the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement our two governments signed in May 2012.

Today, Afghan and NATO officials also signed the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, giving forces from Allied and partner countries the legal protections necessary to carry out the NATO Resolute Support mission when ISAF comes to an end later this year.

These agreements follow an historic Afghan election in which the Afghan people exercised their right to vote and ushered in the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in their nation’s history. The BSA reflects our continued commitment to support the new Afghan Unity Government, and we look forward to working with this new government to cement an enduring partnership that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability, unity, and prosperity, and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates.

 

This day was only possible because of the extraordinary service of our men and woman in uniform who continue to sacrifice  so much in Afghanistan on behalf of our security and the Afghan people. The American people are eternally grateful for their efforts.

 

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Afghanistan Signs Security Agreement with the United States

KABUL (Pajhwok): Kabul and Washington on Tuesday signed a long-delayed security pact allowing the presence of a residual American force, number around 9,500, in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Also on Tuesday, the new government of national unity inked a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO, whose combat mission in the country is scheduled to end this year.

National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar signed the vital security accords with US Ambassador James B. Cunningham and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Maurits R. Jochems.

President Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah, the two vice-presidents, cabinet members and jihadi leaders were also present at the signing ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, President Ahmadzai said Afghanistan would maintain its complete sovereignty under the deal aimed at ensuring the country’s security and warding off threats.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was in the best interest of peace in Afghanistan, region and the world at large, he said, insisting the agreement would help strengthen Afghan security forces.

“Fortunately, Afghanistan remains the centre of international attention even today,” he said, referring to the common challenge of terrorism and security.

He went on to assuage concerns over the continued American military presence among Afghanistan’s neighbours. “Aimed to ensure our security, this accord poses no threat to anyone.”

He added that his predecessor Hamid Karzai, Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and then security advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta had minutely studied the BSA text to ensure the protection of Afghanistan’s interest.

He thanked members of last year’s consultative loya jirga, chaired by then president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, for approving the pact, which could be amended by mutual consent.

Ahmadzai assured the nation that nighttime raids and civilian house searches would end, as international troops prepare to draw down.

CEO Abdullah also hailed the agreement signing as giant step toward stability in the country. The well-deliberated deals had been signed after long discussions based on Afghanistan’s security requirements, he remarked.

He believed the step would have positive effects on the overall security environment in Afghanistan and the wider region. The people would soon realise significance of the pacts, he predicted.

For his part, Cunningham pledged full respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and said they wanted to train and advise Afghan security forces. It would pave the ground for continued US and international aid, he noted.

The US remained committed to Afghanistan and the BSA signing would facilitate aid delivery and training of Afghan forces, he noted. The loya jirga’s decision had proved that an overwhelming majority of Afghans supported the deal, he said.

The NATO representative voiced pleasure over signing the deal on behalf of the Western military alliance. After the end of 2014, NATO personnel would only advise the Afghan forces on how to combat terrorists, he explained.

He insisted the NATO and American presence would translate in Afghanistan’s long-term stability on the one hand and economic prosperity on the other. SOFA signing was also a demand of the Afghan private sector.

New Afghanistan pact means America’s longest war will last until at least 2024

Source: Guardian News and Media Limited

The longest war in American history will last at least another decade, according to the terms of a garrisoning deal for US forces signed by the new Afghanistan government on Tuesday.

Long awaited and much desired by an anxious US military, the deal guarantees that US and Nato troops will not have to withdraw by year’s end, and permits their stay “until the end of 2024 and beyond.”

Mohmmad Hanif Atmar, Maurits Jochems, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Abdullah AbdullahThe entry into force of the deal ensures that Barack Obama, elected president in 2008 on a wave of anti-war sentiment, will pass off both the Afghanistan war and his new war in Iraq and Syria to his successor. In 2010, his vice-president, Joe Biden, publicly vowed the US would be “totally out” of Afghanistan “come hell or high water, by 2014.”

Obama called Tuesday “a historic day” for the US and Afghanistan, as the security pact, which puts US troops beyond the reach of Afghan law, “will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan.”

The primary explicit purpose of the deal, known as the Bilateral Security Agreement, is to permit the US to continue training Afghanistan’s roughly 350,000 security forces, which the US and Nato have built from scratch.

But with domestic US political acrimony swirling over the rise of the Islamic State (Isis) after the 2011 US withdrawal from Iraq, the accord is also a hedge against the resurgence of the Taliban and a recognition that 13 years of bloody, expensive war have failed to vanquish the insurgency.

Any earlier termination of the deal must occur by mutual consent, ensuring a US veto in the event of an about-face by newly inaugurated President Ghani or his successor. Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, incensed the Obama administration by refusing to sign the basing deal, rebuking the country that installed him as Afghanistan’s leader after the US drove the Taliban from Kabul in 2001.

Ghani also agreed to a garrisoning accord with Nato forces, known as a Status of Forces Agreement. Nato has agreed to fund Afghanistan’s soldiers and police through 2017.

Under the Bilateral Security Agreement’s annexes, the US military will have access to nine major land and airbases, to include the massive airfields at Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar, staging areas not only for air operations in Afghanistan but the US drone strikes that continue across the border in tribal Pakistan.

The additional bases – in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Helmand, Gardez and Shindand – ensure the reach of the US military throughout Afghanistan.

US defense leaders greeted the signing of the accord with enthusiasm.

“These agreements will enable American and coalition troops to continue to help strengthen Afghan forces, counter terrorist threats, and advance regional security,” said Defense secretary Chuck Hagel.

“Our partnership is an important one, and as we prepare to transition to a traditional security cooperation mission in the coming years, we remain committed to providing the necessary support to our Afghan partners and, in particular, to their national security forces,” said General Lloyd Austin, commander of US forces in the Middle East and South Asia.

In May, Obama pledged to reduce the US troop presence to 9,800through most of 2015, ahead of what he called a “normal embassy presence” by the end of his presidency. Yet he hedged by saying the US will continue to conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, a less visible mission than the training of Afghan forces.

Nothing in the bilateral deal prevents a US president from ramping troop levels back up. The accord’s terms “acknowledge that US military operations to defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism.”

The “intention” of future counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan is to partner US and Afghan forces together, with the goal of placing the Afghans in the lead, similar to the broader training mission. In 2013, Rolling Stone released a video showing Afghan forces that the US relies upon for counter-terrorism torturing a detainee.

In a September 25 letter to Ghani, Human Rights Watch urged the new president to end the “widespread impunity for members of the security forces responsible for serious violations of human rights in Afghanistan.”