The United States and Afghanistan are not seeing eye to eye on the release of dozens of prisoners, some of whom allegedly murdered Americans.
Afghanistan announced that it is planning to free the prisoners, but the United States objects, saying the prisoners remain a threat and should not be let go without a trial.
The situation is one –of the many– disagreements the United States has with Afghan President Hamid Karzi, who is accused of undermining an agreement reached nine-months ago.
In March of 2013, United States Secretary of State John Kerry praised the deal to turn over control of Afghan prisoners to their government, saying:
“That is an appropriate restatement of America’s commitment to the independent sovereignty of Afghanistan. The interests of the United States with respect to prisoners are fully protected. There’s great confidence about that, or this would not have occurred.”
United States officials say that an Afghan commission has overreached its authority and is getting ready to set free about 88 prisoners who are accused of killing American, Afghan, and NATO troops.
The news came after a top Afghan commander warned the commission was about to release the prisoners who are “a number of dangerous individuals who are legitimate threats and for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation.”
Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon said:
“We can try to make the case why these people are dangerous, why they should not be let out and allowed to return to the battlefield. But if the Afghans don’t want to listen, in the end, it’s their country and we no longer have special privileges.”
Karzai, who is under pressure from both sides, is also refusing to sign an agreement that would keep about 8,000 NATO and United States troops in Afghanistan after 2014, when most forces are due to withdraw from the country.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it’s imperative the Afghan President signs the deal without delay:
“We need it promptly. We need it, there is no time here. We cannot, as has been suggested, wait for further developments in Afghanistan.”
If a deal isn’t reached in this latest impasse, the United States could pull all of its troops out, a move that has been called “zero option”, leaving Afghan forces to battle the dangerous Taliban on their own and possibly fall into a pre-9/11 situation when the country became a hot bed for terrorism.