US mulls bypassing Karzai on security pact

In response to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States this year, U.S. officials are considering trying to bypass the Afghan leader, reports the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. officials told the Times that the Obama administration was pushing for Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani or another official to endorse the bilateral security agreement on behalf of the Afghan government if Karzai would not.

Karzai said this week that he will not sign the agreement, demanding new concessions and suggesting that his predecessor should sign it after Afghanistan’s elections in the spring.

The Obama administration has insisted the pact be signed by the end of the year, and national security adviser Susan Rice told Karzai at a Kabul meeting Monday that the U.S. could withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan if it’s not signed.

While the U.S. officials said they were considering maneuvering around Karzai, they also acknowledged he would have to accept the idea for it to be feasible.

“The heads of state wouldn't have to sign the document, but they would have to delegate that authority,” said a senior U.S. official in Kabul. “So I don't think it's clear here if it could be put into effect without [Karzai’s] approval."