WASHINGTON – The United States will maintain exclusive legal jurisdiction over American soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan after 2014 as part of a draft U.S.-Afghan security pact, congressional aides said Monday, providing details of an agreement that entails key concessions for each side.
The accord, which is to be presented to a gathering of Afghan tribal elders this week, satisfies Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s demand for an end to controversial night raids by explicitly stating that U.S. forces will no longer be allowed to enter Afghan homes.
But it also exempts the U.S. government and companies from Afghan taxes and guarantees that Americans can’t be tried in Afghan courts. Instead, U.S. authorities will prosecute instances of wrongdoing, according to aides who were shown copies of the deal.
No future U.S. troop levels are laid down in the agreement, but U.S. military personnel are permitted to operate beyond Kabul, as the Obama administration demanded.
“Based on what was presented, I’m certainly satisfied on taxes and the jurisdictional issues relative to the military and civilian personnel there on our behalf,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
For Karzai, the deal would put the U.S. presence in his country more on his terms after international combat operations end by the end of next year.
For the Obama administration, it would provide the legal framework for continued U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and ensure that it never again becomes a haven for al-Qaida or other terrorists as in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.