December 14, 2013
When the farce loya jirga approved the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), with minor suggestions, America and her allies were certain that Karzai would move swiftly to sign it. After all it had been Karzai who had eagerly requested such an agreement and who had it approved by a jirga of his handpicked followers. Therefore understandably Karzai's foreign patrons were completely dumbfounded when he refused to sign the Agreement after having the approval to do so from the farce jirga. Perhaps the following considerations will assist the masters in unraveling their slave's seemingly irrational behavior.
It is beyond doubt that Karzai and the political elite of Kabul (those who sold their nation in exchange for gaining some personal and financial benefits) have been the ones most eager to set up a security agreement with America. These figures have accumulated mass fortunes in return for their cooperation with America's military aggression in Afghanistan. They fear that unless they are protected by their foreign masters, they will no longer be able to hold their grip on power and will then have to account for their treacherous acts to the Afghan nation. For this reason they have been pleading arduously to ensure some form of continued American military presence in Afghanistan.
If Karzai had truly wanted to hear the Afghan nation's voice on the continued colonization of their country, then he could have easily gathered a more inclusive loya jirga that could have represented at least a more divergent spectrum of Afghan political opinions. Even western observers were shocked at how uniform and superficial the 'suggestions' of the loya jirga were. What was even more laughable was the fact that the supposedly independent jirga was practically begging Karzai to sign the agreement as soon as Obama asked for the document to be executed. If Karzai wants to know the opinions of the Afghans on the BSA, then he should be bringing the BSA to any negotiations with the Afghans on the opposite end of his policies. But the truth is that Karzai has no intention of knowing what Afghan's want and what their national interests are. He is only interested in gaining and securing his own personal privileges.
Karzai is keenly aware that if he signs the BSA then he will be relegated to a mere figure head until the next elections. Unable to reign in his lust of power Karzai is determined, at all costs, to amass as much privileges in these months as possible. Karzai knows that the BSA is a done deal, however he hopes to dangle the threat of its non-signing and gain a few personal advantages. He sees himself as the cat who has injured the mouse and now wishes to toy with his prey before devouring it.
By giving the pretence of a renegotiation of the BSA Karzai wishes to achieve several objectives. Perhaps most crucial among these, to him, is securing a legacy for himself. For years after the American invasion of Afghanistan, Karzai deluded himself that he was the charismatic new leader of a nation that was on the path to revival with the help of foreign patrons. It took him years to come to grips with the fact that he was nothing more than a pawn in foreign hands who had sold his nation to his foreign masters. He finally understands that the common Afghans see him as nothing more than a US puppet and scorn him thus. Having learned throughout these years on how far he can push his masters he wishes to maximize his elbow room in order to feign that he is indeed the independent and self sufficient leader of Afghanistan. Karzai has mastered well the role of a displeased mistress in need of cajolement and caressing by her foreign suitors! Karzai's demands that foreigners stop raiding Afghan houses, stop killing civilians, and reduce drone attacks before he signs the BSA should be seen in this light.
More crucial however for Karzai is his demand that the American's ensure free and fair upcoming elections. To some it appears that Karzai has gotten used to being mouth fed. While others argue that Karzai, weary of foreign interference in elections wants to use the BSA as a leverage in order to ensure impartial presidential elections. However this claim is clearly misguided. What could be more conducive to inviting foreign interference in the upcoming elections than arguing that only the next president should sign the BSA? This way Americans would interfere even more overtly in order to ensure that the next president is someone who will definitely sign the BSA. The truth is that when Karzai calls for non-interference in the upcoming elections he is actually asking for the very opposite. Karzai is aware that the foreigner's lack of enthusiasm for him in the previous elections nearly lost him his second term. Therefore he is threatening not to sign the BSA unless American's actively support Karzai's chosen candidate for these elections. By holding out the BSA as a carrot, Karzai wants to ensure foreign interference in these elections in order to secure a victory for his chosen presidential candidate.
In recent days Karzai has demanded even further concessions before he will agree to signing the BSA. These include the preposterous condition that America broker peace talks between the Islamic Emirate and his administration. Perhaps Karzai is simply increasing his demands so that later he can relent on some of his non-essential conditions (such as peace talks) and instead retain his core demands (i.e. securing elections for his candidate). Or perhaps Karzai fancies that somehow he is the independent leader of Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate is under the control of America! We all know that Karzai and the political elite in Kabul have no interest in negotiating with the Islamic Emirate. They know that any open campaigning by the Islamic Emirate will reveal how thin Karzai's and his cronies' support really is among the ordinary Afghans. It would also entail Karzai and his elites relinquishing their precious privileges which they are not in a hurry to give up. It was for this reason that Karzai, after begging the Islamic Emirate to open up an office, moved so quickly to condemn the office inaugurated by the Islamic Emirate in Qatar. At the time he used the superfluous excuse of a flag and a sign in order to compel the Islamic Emirate to abandon any effort at negotiations.
Also Karzai's demands that the Americans broker peace talks between him and the Islamic Emirate is a contradiction in terms. The Islamic Emirate only acquiesced to peace talks with the condition that these pave the way for a complete and absolute withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan. Karzai knows fully well that the Islamic Emirate will not partake in any negotiations, especially ones which would result in Karzai and his cronies signing the BSA, and thus ensuring the presence of foreign forces for another ten years. There are easier options on the table for the Islamic Emirate. They know that the Americans will never achieve with 10,000 troops what they failed to secure with 160,000 troops. They know that the presence of such a meager force will invite the scorn and contempt of the Mujahideen who will attack these bases with such tenacity that within a year America will leave Afghanistan with more haste than it did Vietnam. For their own sakes, America should be thanking her lucky star that Karzai does not relent and use this chance to rush towards the 'zero option'.
So the question now is, between Karzai and American, who will end up the cat and who the mouse?