Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Afghan Strategic Partnership Treaty Could Fail on Dollars

It is common knowledge that the Afghan economy is dependent on foreign funding.  With the anticipated departure of NATO, Western leaders and the US are scrambling to put a strategic partnership treaty into place.  It was expected that the deal would be finalized prior to the Afghanistan conference next month, clearing the way for NATO troops to exit Afghanistan.  The treaty could be delayed without the U.S. agreeing to a dollar amount in writing.

While the U.S. apparently has agreed to fund Afghanistan to the tune of $4Billion verbally, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that the U.S. agree to at least $2 Billion annually in writing.  Afghan Security Forces, which are to take over responsibility for Afghanistan's Security, are to be maintained at a strength of 140,000.

While the U.S. has made an agreement on night raids and the authority to transfer detainees to Afghans, the stumbling block still remains the funding.  Karzai says that there are only vague pledges to fund the Afghan Army and police.

"They are providing us money, there is no doubt about that. But they say they will not mention the amount in the agreement. We say, give us less, but mention it in the agreement. Give us less but write it down."

The US Embassy in Kabul said that they would not comment on ongoing negotiations.

Since the treaty is required to clear the way for NATO's exit in 2014, there is sure to be some sort of written agreement.  To say the least, an agreement is necessary to instil confidence in the Afghan public that there will be sufficient funded Afghan forces after the United States depart.  It is also anticipated that there will be a residual force of US soldiers, which will be part of the agreement or at the minimum a separate memorandum of understanding.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia announced that Australian troops would withdraw from Afghanistan one year earlier than anticipated.  Read more here.

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