Kerry fails to secure deal on US ‘troop immunity’ in Afghanistan

Published time: October 13, 2013 07:51                                                                            

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gives a press conference on October 12, 2013 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul.(AFP Photo / Massoud Hossaini) 

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gives a press conference on October 12, 2013 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul.(AFP Photo / Massoud Hossaini)

Talks between the US and Afghanistan to allow 10,000 American troops to remain in the country after NATO forces’ planned withdrawal in 2014 stalled Saturday on the issue of immunity for US personnel.

A long day of negotiations between US Secretary of State John  Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai yielded little result for  the long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement, which would allow  between 5,000 and 10,000 US troops to stay behind, to continue  training Afghan security forces and to fight Taliban insurgents.

It is beyond the scope of the Afghan president and his government  to decide whether to grant US military personnel immunity, Karzai  told Kerry, adding that this “issue of jurisdiction” would  be referred to the country’s loya Jirga, an assembly of elders,  leaders and other influential people.

“We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be  resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security  agreement,” Kerry told reporters at a Kabul news conference,  stressing, however, that an agreement was otherwise essentially  in place.

Kerry said only a partial deal was reached on just how many US  troops will stay in the country after the NATO pull-out next  year. Washington wants to take the lead in running  counter-terrorism missions after 2014, as well as to keep leasing  bases around the country.

But such unilateral actions as the capture in recent days of  Taliban commander Latif Mehsud by US forces have angered Karzai.

“This is an issue that we have raised in earnest with the  United States in the past few days, as we have all previous  occasions of such arrests in which the Afghan laws were  disregarded,” Reuters reported Karzai as saying.

Karzai wants a guarantee that the US will protect Afghanistan  from a potential Al-Qaeda invasion from neighboring Pakistan. He  said that during the talks an agreement had been signed to ensure  the welfare of the Afghan people.

“There will be no arbitrary actions and operations by the US,  and a written document has been given to guarantee the protection  of lives and properties of our people,” Karzai said.

‘Geopolitical games’

Lawrence Freeman, editor of Executive Intelligence Review, told  RT that the US’s “conflicted policy” in Afghanistan was drawing  out negotiations.

Referring to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as a   “farce,” Freeman said that the US had no clear policy for  the future of the region. He said that the US needed to introduce  a serious development program rather than continuing with what he  described as a policy governed by “geopolitical games.”

“There are some people who think we should have a military  base in Afghanistan to have some kind of containment against  Russian ambitions,” Freeman told RT, concluding that the  West’s intervention as a whole was a “failure” when it  comes to “forward-thinking, visionary policy.”

http://rt.com/news/us-afghanistan-troop-immunity-123/

 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai admits to millions of dollars of US payments to national security

 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that his national security team has been receiving payments from the US government for the past 10 years.

Mr Karzai confirmed the payments when he was asked about a story published in The New York Times, which cited high-level Afghan officials saying the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases.

Mr Karzai said the welcome monthly payments were not a “big amount”. He said they were used to give assistance to the wounded and sick, to pay rent for housing and for other “operational” purposes.

The newspaper quotes Khalil Roman, who served as Mr Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, as calling the vast CIA payments “ghost money” that “came in secret, and it left in secret.” It also quotes unidentified American officials as saying that “the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.”

AP

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghan-president-hamid-karzai-admits-to-millions-of-dollars-of-us-payments-to-national-security-8595493.html#

Millions in CIA “ghost money” paid to Afghan president’s office -NYT

Source: Reuters – Mon, 29 Apr 2013 01:43 AM

Author: Reuters

April 29 (Reuters) – Tens of millions of U.S. dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for more than a decade, according to the New York Times, citing current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

The so-called “ghost money” was meant to buy influence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, the newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying.

“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan”, one American official said, “was the United States.”

The CIA declined to comment on the report and the U.S. State Department did not immediately comment. The New York Times did not publish any comment from Karzai or his office.

“We called it ‘ghost money’,” Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai’s chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times. “It came in secret and it left in secret.”

For more than a decade the cash was dropped off every month or so at the Afghan president’s office, the newspaper said.

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the CIA in Afghanistan since the start of the war.

The cash payments to the president’s office do not appear to be subject to oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or the CIA’s formal assistance programmes, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies, and do not appear to violate U.S. laws, said the New York Times.

There was no evidence that Karzai personally received any of the money, Afghan officials told the newspaper. The cash was handled by his National Security Council, it added.

U.S. and Afghan officials familiar with the payments were quoted as saying that the main goal in providing the cash was to maintain access to Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the CIA’s influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan’s highly centralized government.

Much of the money went to warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade and in some cases the Taliban, the New York Times said. U.S. and Afghan officials were quoted as saying the CIA supported the same patronage networks that U.S. diplomats and law enforcement agents struggled to dismantle, leaving the government in the grip of organised crime.

In 2010, Karzai said his office received cash in bags from Iran, but that it was a transparent form of aid that helped cover expenses at the presidential palace. He said at the time that the United States made similar payments.

The latest New York Times report said much of the Iranian cash, like the CIA money, went to pay warlords and politicians.

For most of Karzai’s 11-year reign, there has been little interest in anti-corruption in the army or police. The country’s two most powerful institutions receive billions of dollars from donors annually but struggle just to recruit and maintain a force bled by high rates of desertion.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Bell and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

http://www.trust.org/item/20130429014333-3jotq/?source = hpbreaking