After four days of deliberations in Kabul, a Loya Jirga of some 2,500 elders and tribal leaders on Nov. 24 announced its endorsement of the Bliateral Security Agreement that will enable thousands of US troops to remain in Afghanistan after the supposed "withdrawal" of NATO forces next year. A similar deal between the US and Iraq collapsed in 2011 over the issue of whether Pentagon troops would have to answer to local courts. A draft text released by Kabul last week appeared to show that Afghan President Karzai had yielded to a US demand for exemption of its troops from Afghan jurisdiction. Nonetheless, Karzai now says he will reject the Loya Jirga's recommendation that he sign the agreement, citing continued civilian casualties at the hands of US forces.
The Taliban for its part condemned the Loya Jirga for endorsing the security agreement and pledged to continue to its fight against foreign forces. "The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns such Jirgas and resolutions of slavery and declares that such illegal worthless agreements and promises by slaves will not benefit the aggressing Americans or their criminal stooges," the Taliban said in a statement. "Rather the wrath of the nation will become even stronger and the accords between a master and his slave will be discredited and remain futile just like the past documents of slavery in Afghanistan… Such agreements will only increase the fervor of Jihad in the arteries of true Afghans and will strengthen their Jihadi ranks. Afghanistan shall truly become the graveyard of the international arrogance and not a ground for perpetual bases." (Khaama Press, Nov. 25)