US to defend Afghanistan for decade after drawdown

Washington has pledged to help defend Afghan militarily for at least a decade after 2014, an Afghan official said.

Kabul: Washington has pledged in a newly agreed strategic pact to help defend Afghanistan militarily for at least a decade after the country formally takes control of its own security, an Afghan official said Monday.

The draft agreement signed on Sunday also says the US will only take such actions with Afghan agreement. The United States also pledged it will not launch attacks on other countries from Afghan soil, according to sections of the accord read out in parliament by Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

Afghan officials had previously said that they would not allow their country to be used to launch drone attacks into Pakistan or other neighbouring countries after the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw by the end of 2014.

"Considering that stability in Afghanistan would be stability for Central Asia and South Asia, the United States emphasises that any kind of interference in Afghan affairs would be a matter of concern for the United States," he said, quoting from the Dari language version of the agreement.

"If any interference occurs, the United States, with the agreement of both countries, will give a proper response, including diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means."
He stressed that any such actions would be taken only with Afghan approval.

The commitment is a reminder that while US forces are drawing down in Afghanistan over the next two years, the American military will remain active in the country long after that.

The draft agreement on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond the 2014 deadline.

The pact is key to the US exit strategy in Afghanistan because it establishes guidelines for any American forces who remain after the withdrawal deadline and for financial help to the impoverished country and its security forces.

The most contentious issues between the Afghan and US government were resolved in separate memorandums of understanding governing the conduct of night raids and control of detainees ahead of the strategic partnership pact.

The agreement as read out by Spanta is broad, addressing a mutual commitment to the stability of Afghanistan and to human rights. It does not address specific troop levels or the size or location of bases, though it does say that the US has no plans to keep permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

Many Afghans worry that the US wants permanent bases, a setup that would make it more of an occupying force than an ally.

Bureau Report

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