Apart from the actual meaning of the acronym BSA, bilateral security agreement, “bargaining over signatures in Afghanistan” could also be a possible translation. The BSA contract, which is currently being negotiated between Afghanistan and the US, will regulate the future presence of US troops in the war torn country after 2014. Despite the planned withdrawal of all NATO soldiers, there are talks that a small part of the americans will remain in certain military bases to insure stability and continue training of afghan security forces. Although the draft is completed, president Hamid Karzai’s signature is still missing on the document.
The placement of foreign troops in Afghanistan has always been viewed from very diverging opinions throughout the country. While a respectable part of the population considers the presence of NATO military as necessary to secure stability, some would also go so far as to speak of a western “occupation” and a modern form of colonialism.
But on the other hand, what reasons makes the US want to stay in Afghanistan, on it’s own expenses, even if the stability pact expires in 2014 and the “peace mission” comes to an end? Worldwide belief in the altruistic motivation of the former Bush and the current Obama administration to bring peace administration to bring peace to Afghanistan and fight the have faded away long ago. Rather it is widely accepted that the US takes advantage of the convenient geo strategic position of the country that is referred to as the heart of Asia. If the BSA comes into effect, it will be possible for the US military to maintain bases close to the important capital cities of neighbouring countries like Iran or Russia. Furthermore, the proximity to the Arabian Sea will guarantee flawless supply of military missions in the Middle East. An extendet stay in Afghanistan can bring massive opportunities for the USA.
This is a fact that Karzai is fully aware of. To discuss the contract, he scheduled a Loya Jirgain November, even if the desicion has no legal power because only the parliament can determine if the pact will be accepted or not. Through this move, the president shows that he takes the opinion if tribal leaders and the population into account. But although the Loya Jirga has accepted the BSA, Karzai has still not signed the contract. Rather he has added more conditions to the security pact, like the one that soldiers should have no more permission to raid afghan homes, and that all afghan prisoners that are held in Guantanamo bay should be released and can return to their home country.
This has put the US under pressure. Even if they threaten to withdraw all troups immediately if Karzai doesn’t sign until the end of the year 2013, a so called zero option, it is very unlikely they will do so. This way, Karzai can push through his aims. He said he might even wait with signing until after the elevations in April 2014. Also, through counselling the Loya Jirga, he gained their sympathy. If they are against the elections taking place, they would most likely be impossible to be taken through, and like this Karzai can remain president even if legally this is not possible because he has already been in power for two legislative periods.
It all depends on Karzai’s signature now. If he agrees to the contract, he will be the one who has secured stability for his country and also brought pressure on US troups to respect afghan lives. If he doesn’t, he will make history as the man who freed Afghanistan from it’s “occupation” while it will be in his successors hand to sort out the future of the country without the security of foreign troups. At the moment, it is at his hands to play games with the US by taking his time. In the end, every one of the options that are open at the moment will bring a win-win situation for him.
Afghan freelance journalist, Germany