German Official: Karzai Will Sign BSA

Report: After months of stalling, allied foreign minister is told Afghan president will sign post-2014 agreement for U.S. troops.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai now reportedly says he will sign the bilateral security agreement with the U.S. despite previous reservations.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign the agreement that will define U.S. forces after a combat drawdown at the end of this year, he told a German official. 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, spoke with Karzai during a weekend trip to Afghanistan about the Bilateral Security Agreement, a document confirmed by the U.S. government and an Afghan council known as the Loya Jirga. The Obama administration has warned Karzai it would be willing to withdraw all U.S. forces – as it did in Iraq in 2011 – if he fails to sign this agreement. 

[READ: Will the Taliban Again Rule Afghanistan?]

“I was pleased that Karzai said very clearly that Afghanistan would in any case sign,” Steinmeier said Thursday before the German Bundestag, the lower house of its parliament, according to Reuters. “He said to me very clearly: The deal has been negotiated, it would not be amended.” 

Optimism for a deal have slowly tapered among U.S. officials. The Loya Jirga supported overwhelmingly the BSA in late November, which preserves a yet-undefined force of U.S. troops, likely around 10,000, to serve only in a train, advise and assist role. 

Heads began to scratch toward the end of the year when Karzai still had not put the final ink on the parchment, citing concerns regarding the rules that would govern these remaining troops, and whether they would be allowed to operate unilaterally. 

The Pentagon has refused to issue a specific deadline to Karzai, repeating calls on the president to sign the agreement swiftly. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday became the first senior administration official to say he does not believe Karzai would sign the agreement. 

“It takes two to sign this,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding he does not believe personally that Karzai will follow through. 

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos said Tuesday the failures in Iraq should serve as a warning against repeated mistakes in Afghanistan. Iraq has slowly descended into deep sectarian violence following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011 at the behest of the Iraqi government. Towns such as Ramadi and Fallujah, the sites of now infamous battles for hard-won territory, have subsequently fallen back under Islamic extremist control.

2013 was the most deadly year for Iraqis since the strategic surge of U.S. military troops there in 2007.