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