Have U.S. Troops Overstayed Their Welcome in Afghanistan?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai heads to a press conference on Nov. 16

Rahmat Gul/AP

AA Font size + Print

Afghan President Hamid Karzai heads to a press conference on Nov. 16

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has hosted U.S. troops for more than a decade, but now his hospitality is running out, putting a post-2014 deal at risk. By Stephanie Gaskell

Back in 2005, when the world was barely paying attention to the war in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai complained that U.S. and NATO troops were knocking on doors and entering the homes of Afghans as they pleased. “No coalition forces should go to Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government,” he said. Years later, Karzai railed against night-time raids, which the U.S. military uses to surprise — and capture — high-value terror targets.

Now, as U.S. and NATO forces negotiate a so-called bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan to keep a smaller force in the country after combat operations officially end next year, Karzai’s hospitality again seems to be waning. The main sticking point is whether coalition forces will be able to search Afghan homes, and once again Karzai is wary of allowing foreign troops to disrupt the lives of his people. He has refused the NATO request, Reuters reports, and threatens to derail the negotiations entirely.

They want a window left open to go into Afghan homes, but the president does not accept that — not unilaterally and not joint,” an Afghan official told Reuters. “From our side there is no flexibility on this issue of allowing Americans to search Afghan homes, because this is more important than jurisdiction.”

Jurisdiction — whether Afghanistan has the right to prosecute any U.S. soldier who commits a crime in Afghanistan — is what derailed efforts in Iraq in 2011 to keep U.S. and NATO troops there after that war. Karzai has said he’s not convinced he should give U.S. troops immunity.

This latest impasse emerged just days before Thursday’s scheduled loya jirga, a key gathering of Afghan political and tribal leaders to debate the post-2014 question. The United States has been eager to seal a deal with Afghanistan because there’s worry that as next spring’s presidential election nears, the desire to project Afghan sovereignty will only grow.

The insurgency’s rejection of foreign troops is growing too. A car bomb exploded on Saturday at the site planned for the next loya jirga, killing at least 10 people

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.