2013 World News: Afghanistan
President Karzai refuses to sign security agreement, complicating U.S. plans for future role in Afghanistan
The U.S. continued to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2013. The country's 352,000-troop force has shown steady improvement over the past few years and has assumed control over most urban areas. On June 18, 2013, the Afghan National Security Force assumed complete control over the last areas under NATO's jurisdiction. The transition was an important milestone in the country's fight against the Taliban and its move away from dependence on outside forces for stability.
Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
The U.S. and Afghanistan began to negotiate a bilateral security agreement, which will govern the status of remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdraws in 2014. Talks fell apart in June but resumed in the fall. After a series of negotiations, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Karzai reached a deal in late November that says a residual force of some 8,000 to 12,000 troops will stay in Afghanistan through 2024 to train and advise Afghan troops. The soldiers will not engage in combat. In addition, Afghanistan will continue to receive about $4 billion each year in international aid. Karzai reluctantly agreed that the remaining U.S. troops would have immunity from persecution under Afghan law and that special forces could "complement and support" Afghan raids on private homes. Before Karzai would sign it, he sought approval from a loya jirga (a council of Afghan elders), which deliberated for four days before endorsing the deal. Karzai, however, balked and said he would not sign unless the deal was renegotiated and the U.S. agreed that troops would not participate in raids on Afghan homes. He also indicated he would not sign the agreement until after elections in April 2014. U.S. officials told Karzai that they will begin planning for a full withdrawal by the end of 2014 if he did not sign the agreement by the end of 2013.
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