The present negotiations over U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014 should hardly be news. As the appended video notes, there was a Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan that was to set out the parameters for U.S. continued involvement in Afghanistan for at least a decade after 2014.
The agreement is outlined
at an official government site:
In May 2010, in Washington, DC, President Obama and President Karzai committed our two countries to negotiate and conclude a strategic partnership that would provide a framework for our future relationship. On May 1, 2012, President Obama and President Karzai signed the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America.
Details of how many U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan and under what terms remained to be worked out. This is happening now. Nevertheless the official line
is that U.S.will withdraw all its troops and security will be in the hands of the Afghans by the end of 2014. During the vice-presidential debates, Biden said:
“We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.”
The partnership agreement will see the U.S. contributing considerable sums to train and support Afghan security forces, providing trainers, but also special forces that will still help out in raids against insurgents. Last week, U.S. and Afghan negotiators met in Kabul to begin talks to establish the number of U.S. troops to remain after 2014, their role, and the conditions under which they will remain. Marc Grossman,
the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, explained that the purpose of the upcoming talks with the Afghans is to agree on an extension of the U.S. troop presence well past 2014. The troops would conduct counterterrorism operations and training and also advise Afghan security forces.
The U.S. is pulling out most troops but thousands may still remain. No doubt, the drones will not go home anytime soon either. Estimates of how many troops
will remain range from a few thousand to about 20,000 or more.
Micah Zenko, of the Council on Foreign Relations writes that in addition, “some US policymakers assume that Afghanistan will serve as hub for special operations raids and drone strikes into Pakistan.” The NATO mission to destroy the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and leave a stable Afghan government has not been achieved. Although Al Qaeda may be almost gone, the Taliban are still strong and the central government weak, corrupt, and unpopular.