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Improved Prospects for a US-Afghan Security Agreement…But at What Cost?

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Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 10:57 PM

A few weeks ago, I noted a post by Chris Jenks arguing that negotiations for a US-Afghanistan security agreement might come to grief over the issue of criminal jurisdiction over U.S. servicemembers (much as happened previously vis-a-vis Iraq).  On that front, some interesting words from President Karzai yesterday.  This piece reports:

Karzai said his key demands were that the US handover all  detainees in its custody and shut all its prisons in Afghanistan, handover  control of Afghan airspace, and stop military raids on Afghan villages.

This one puts a bit more flesh on the bones insofar as control over Afghan airspace is concerned, albeit in a context that suggests that this issue at least might not be linked directly to the immunity issue:

But while resolving this immunity issue is a step forward, Afghan political and security analyst Idres Rahmani says there are other, more contentious issues that still need to be settled. One of those is the use of Afghan airspace. Currently the CIA-led drone program targeting terrorists on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is staged from bases in Afghanistan. Rahmani says another is the use of U.S. special forces in secret operations. “Now, that is one point that President Karzai is not willing to accept, at least so far he has said ‘let’s stop that one.’”

Who knows, maybe in the end the agreement will include both immunity and a continued space for at least some degree of control over non-Afghan detainees.  But one can hardly count on that result.  I’m sure the right folks are currently giving a lot of thought to what dispositions options are realistic for the lingering non-Afghan detainee population in our control in Afghanistan; we are certain to hear more about this issue sooner or later.