Afghan Tribal Elders to Decide on US Troop Immunity

A failure to secure legal immunity for troops in Iraq led to Obama pulling out completely

by John Glaser, January 14, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that an assembly of tribal elders would make the final decision on whether to grant US troops legal immunity post-2014.

The Obama administration has insisted on legal immunity for the residual US troops in Afghanistan following the drawdown in 2014.

Asked in a press conference last week about immunity, Obama said “nowhere do we have any kind of security agreement with a country without immunity for our troops,” adding that “it will not be possible for us to have any kind of U.S. troop presence post-2014 without assurances that our men and women who are operating there are in some way subject to the jurisdiction of another country.”

“I can go to the Afghan people and argue for immunity for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in a way that Afghan sovereignty will not be compromised, in a way that Afghan law will not be compromised,”  Karzai said in last week’s press conference at the White House.

“The issue of immunity is under discussion (and) it is going to take eight to nine months before we reach agreement,” Karzai told a news conference in the capital, Kabul on Monday.

The Iraqi government’s refusal in 2011 to grant immunity to a residual US troop presence led to the Obama administration’s decision to pull out completely. If the tribal meeting, or loya jirga, decides against immunity, it could have similar results in US policy.

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