The Washington Post reports that talks to allow the U.S. military to maintain a long-term presence in Afghanistan after the scheduled end of combat operations are stalled, as the two countries struggle to reconcile their needs.
The “strategic partnership” is meant to support Afghanistan’s security forces and discourage militants from reestablishing safe havens in the war-torn country in the decade after 2014. But with a growing number of Afghans angry over civilian casualties and resentful of the U.S. presence in the country—and with waning support for the expensive war effort among the American public—the partnership could be especially difficult to negotiate.
According to The Post, the Afghans are trying to use the agreement to set binding deadlines for controlling detentions and the coalition’s controversial nighttime raids, and are demanding more firepower—including F-16 fighter jets and Abrams tanks. The U.S. says that timelines should be linked to conditions on the ground and that the U.S. does not intend to buy the Afghans expensive military equipment that is not suited to the mission. The United States is also seeking long-term access to military bases for running counterterrorism operations and training Afghan security forces.
“Is it going to be easy to get to? No,” new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker told reporters. “Is it worth trying for? Boy, you bet it is. Because, again, we’ve seen consequences of disengaging, of not seeking that kind of relationship.”