The United States and Afghanistan have agreed on the final language of a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will help determine the role of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan post-2014. The agreement is now being considered by the Loya Jirga, a council composed of 2500 members including Afghan political, community, business, youth and non-profit organization leaders.

The BSA provides that the U.S. will continue to provide assistance to strengthen the security and stability of Afghanistan and will work with Afghanistan to continue coordinating counter-terrorism efforts. The agreement provides no combat role for U.S. troops, a point that has been emphasized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The agreement also does not specify the number of U.S. troops that would remain in Afghanistan in training, advisory and assistance capacity after 2014, nor does it specify how long U.S. troops would stay in the country. In June 2013, U.S. and NATO transferred security and combat responsibilities to the Afghan armed forces, began the drawdown of their troops, and remain for training and advisory missions.

Presidents Obama and Karzai had signed, in May 2013, a ten-year Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the two countries which included “U.S. commitments to support Afghanistan’s social and economic development, security, institutions, and regional cooperation. Afghanistan committed “to strengthen accountability, transparency, oversights, and to protect human rights of all Afghans—men and women.” The SPA required a BSA be negotiated.

President Obama has urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the BSA by the end of the year. President Karzai in his address to the Loya Jirga on Thursday had indicated that the BSA should be signed after the April 2014 Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections. Karzai urged the Loya Jirga to approve the BSA. Next the BSA goes to the Afghan Parliament for final approval.

Media Resources: New York Times 11/22/13; BBC News 11/21/13; U.S. State Dept. 11/21/13; CNN 11/20/13

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