Kerry Leaves Afghanistan Without Troop Deal

by Jason Ditz, October 13, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry claimed major progress in negotiation for the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to keep US troops on the ground in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but left the country this weekend having failed to finalize the pact.

Kerry claimed all the major issues had been resolved for the BSA, except for the question of immunity for US troops operating in Afghanistan. The immunity dispute, ironically, was the same one that stalled the US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq in 2008.

As with the SOFA, the US is demanding all troops who violate the law be tried in the US, while the Karzai government wants at least some war crimes to be dealt with in Afghan courts. The perception that the US has been overly light with sentencing, and indeed sometimes sweeps crimes under the rug entirely, has been controversial among Afghans.

Kerry’s visit and the negotiations were overshadowed by the US military’s capture of Pakistani Taliban figure Latif Mehsud, who was in Afghan government custody and had agreed to help the Afghan government in peace talks when US troops attacked a security convoy and captured him, dragging him off to Bagram.

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