In a move that both signals the close of the Afghan war and extends the US commitment here until at least 2024, President Obama visited Kabul to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan.
While pledging that the US will support the Afghan military after 2014, when Afghan forces take full responsibility of the country, and continue providing financial support for development, the new agreement avoided specifics.
The lack of specificity is a point of concern for a number of Afghans.
“There is no concrete financial commitment from the United States for our Afghan national security force’s budget,” says Waliullah Rahmani, executive director of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies. “If we don’t have good financial support for our security forces from our international friends, such as the United States, [our government and military] will not be in a position to survive. This is a question of survival for our Afghan national security forces.”
Both Mr. Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they wanted to sign the strategic partnership agreement ahead of NATO’s summit in Chicago on May 20 in order to better address specific issues, such as how much money the US will contribute to Afghan security forces and development, the exact role of any US forces that remain here after 2014, and what will happen to US bases.
The current partnership agreement does make clear that the US will not maintain permanent bases in Afghanistan. However, it stipulates that “Afghanistan shall provide US forces continued access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014, and beyond as may be agreed in the Bilateral Security Agreement.”