According to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, both the United States and the rest of the alliance will not remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 unless the Karzai government agrees to a status of forces agreement (SOFA) granting them broad immunity.
Rasmussen says he is optimistic that the Afghan government will meet a tentative deadline of May to grant the immunity, but the SOFA was supposed to come in the wake of last year’s 2024 deal, and has so far stalled.
This is because of the large number of civilian casualties still being caused by NATO forces, and the Karzai government’s hope that it can limit certain types of operations from occupation forces. In the end, it seems unlikely that they will be able to.
If indeed a withdrawal has to be carried out in earnest in 2014, NATO has already sent out feelers to the Russian government seeking advice as well as details of the 1989 Soviet withdrawal.
NATO’s talks with Russia on the matter are said to be “unofficial,” an effort to avoid the obvious comparisons between the calamitous decade-long Soviet occupation and NATO’s own failing war.
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