US-Afghan security pact in peril

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to the loya jirga on November 24, 2013.
Image caption The Washington Post says the Obama administration has mistreated Afghan President Hamid Karzi

Afghanistan is headed for disaster, contends the Hoover Institution's Fouad Ajami. US coddling has allowed Afghan President Hamid Karzai to treat his protectors with "open contempt", and it's only a matter of time before Afghanistan falls apart.

"With our guns and money, we have suspended the feuds of Afghanistan," he writes. "When we truly pack up our gear, the hard truth of that country will win out. The warlords and the vultures will take what they can and leave the place to darkness and ruin."

The Iranian nuclear agreement and the Japan-China showdown may be dominating commentary over the past few days, but flying under the radar for now is the continuing difficulty that the US and Afghanistan are having in reaching a bilateral security agreement.

The latest development is a US threat to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan next year if Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to refuse to sign a deal.

The Washington Post writes on the subject: "The stakes are too high for a pointless game of political chicken."

According to the Post, although Karzai is the one digging in his heels, the impasse is more a reflection on Obama administration missteps: "Mr. Karzai's shifting reasons for delaying his signature reflect pent-up resentment toward President Obama and his staff, who have mistreated the proud Afghan leader throughout the past five years."

The Post's editors also note that if the US does indeed follow through on its threat of a full withdrawal, Afghanistan could follow in the footsteps of Iraq, with "an escalating civil war destroys U.S. allies and empowers extremists."

Former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh finds more at fault with Afghanistan's neighbours than with US policy.

"A closer look at various key governments' approaches to Afghanistan reveals that only the U.S. is maintaining a coherent stance," he writes. "Most important, Afghanistan's neighbours must not play power politics in the country, in the hope of gaining a slight advantage over one another. That path, as we have seen, leads only to chaos, from which no country benefits."

Meanwhile, a sampling of Afghanistan papers shows general support for the bilateral agreement in spite of Mr Karzai's resistance.

"The increase in preconditions and the completion of time for bargaining have concerned many people, and they ask why the president is deferring the signing of the security pact with the US to this extent," writes the Daily Afghanistan.

The state-run Hewad writes:

The decisions of the people's representatives must be respected, and the US must too accept all the proposals made by the consultative loya jerga. Since Afghanistan is going through a very delicate situation and the sworn enemies are also not letting us live in peace, taking into consideration the national values and the sworn enemies, it is better to sign the security agreement.

And the independent Hasht-e Sobh writes: "One must also not forget that if relations between Afghanistan and the US and Nato are damaged, all the military gains they have achieved will be at risk."

(From reports provided by BBC Monitoring)