A bipartisan group of senators today introduced a resolution supporting the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership and affirming the Senate's critical role in providing the support and assistance necessary for a relationship that is vital to U.S. national security.
The resolution praises the bilateral Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement that entered into force in July, and affirms the importance of maintaining a long-term political, economic and security relationship with the people and government of Afghanistan.
The resolution's sponsors are Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Armed Services Committee's ranking member; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the Foreign Relations Committee's ranking member; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and member of the Armed Services Committee; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee.
"An enduring partnership between our two nations is vital to securing the gains our troops have secured on the ground in Afghanistan," Levin said. "This resolution puts the Senate on the record as enthusiastically supporting the Partnership and its goals, and will help make clear to our Afghan allies, regional neighbors, and those who would seek to destabilize Afghanistan that America's involvement will not end when we complete transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan security forces in 2014."
"The co-sponsors of this resolution are some of the leading voices on national security and foreign affairs in the Senate, and I am pleased to join with them to express Congress's support for the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan," McCain said. "It is essential for both sides to fully implement this pact, including by reaching as quickly as possible a new agreement for security cooperation beyond 2014. By passing this resolution, the Senate can send an important signal to our friends and enemies in Afghanistan, as well as the surrounding region, that the United States is committed to the long-term success of Afghanistan--a goal that is in America's national security interest, and for which so many of our troops have made the ultimate sacrifice."
"The signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement marked the beginning--not the end--of a new phase of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan," Kerry said. "As international conferences from Istanbul and Bonn to Chicago and Tokyo have made clear, the world is not going to abandon its investment in a stable Afghanistan. Our task now is to leverage that commitment into a sustainable transition that prevents Afghanistan and the region from backsliding into widespread ethnic or sectarian violence."
"While a sustained U.S.-Afghanistan relationship is important for both our countries, Afghanistan must exhibit the determination and political will to capitalize on the investment to date rather than squander this unique opportunity," Lugar said. "It is important that the bi-lateral assistance relationship transition quickly, prior to 2014, and the focus of our sustained relationship adjust from nation-building directly to our respective national security interests, especially the fight against global terror threats and eliminating their sanctuaries in the region."
"As we work to bring the war to a responsible end, we are affirming today our commitment to an enduring and strategic partnership with Afghanistan and to maintain the gains made by our troops and the intelligence community," Feinstein said. " As the active combat mission concludes in 2014, the United States will remain committed to defeating al-Qaeda, eliminating terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan border, and to the protection of the civilian population, particularly Afghanistan's vulnerable women and girls."
"The challenges facing American personnel and allied forces in Afghanistan are daunting," Chambliss said. "The establishment of safety and security is a prerequisite to any meaningful political progress, and only a long-term U.S. commitment in the region will stabilize Afghanistan. This resolution demonstrates that regional security in the Middle East is of utmost importance to the United States, and that we are committed to political progress, reconciliation and cooperation in the region."
"America must never again repeat the mistake of abandoning Afghanistan, which was the path that led us to 9/11. The only guarantee of our security here at home is a long-term American commitment to the security of Afghanistan, which the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by President Obama and President Karzai enshrines and which this important bipartisan resolution now endorses," Lieberman said.
"With proper implementation, the Strategic Partnership agreement between the United States and Afghanistan is a turning point in the war," said Graham. "This agreement ensures an enduring partnership post-2014 between Afghanistan and the United States diplomatically, economically, and most importantly militarily. The agreement is the worst nightmare for the Taliban and al-Qaeda because it will ensure a follow-on counterterrorism force, as well as trainers and enablers, that will always allow the Afghan security forces to prevail in any conflict with the Taliban. It should embolden our allies and encourage all who have suffered for a free Afghanistan. If properly implemented, it will be a source of stability in the region by firmly and strongly stating Afghanistan will never go back into the darkness again."
The resolution calls on the government and people of Afghanistan to fulfill international commitments, including fighting against corruption, protecting the rights of all Afghan citizens, enforcing the rule of law and holding free and fair elections as scheduled in 2014. It affirms a continued U.S. role in helping to train and advise Afghan security forces.
Text of the resolution follows:
Title: Commending the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Whereas the United States and Afghanistan have been allies in the conflict against al Qaeda and its affiliates for over a decade, with the shared goal of ensuring that Afghanistan is never again a sanctuary for al Qaeda;
Whereas the United States and Afghanistan are committed to the framework agreed to at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Lisbon in 2010, and reaffirmed at the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012, for the transition from coalition forces to the Afghan National Security Forces of lead responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan by the end of 2014;
Whereas, in June 2011, President Barack Obama said, "What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures--one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.";
Whereas, in November 2011, a traditional loya jirga in Kabul declared that "strategic cooperation with the United States of America, which is a strategic ally of the people and government of Afghanistan, is considered important in order to ensure political, economic, and military security" and also stated, "Signing a strategic cooperation document with the United States conforms with the national interest of Afghanistan and is of significant importance.";
Whereas, on May 2, 2012, President Obama and President Hamid Karzai signed the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan;
Whereas, at the signing of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, President Obama said, "Today we're agreeing to be long-term partners in combating terrorism, and training Afghan security forces, strengthening democratic institutions and supporting development, and protecting human rights of all Afghans. With this agreement, the Afghan people, and the world, should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States.";
Whereas, at a May 20, 2012, bilateral meeting with President Karzai at the NATO Summit in Chicago, President Obama said that the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement "reflects a future in which two sovereign nations--the United States and Afghanistan--are operating as partners, to the benefit of our countries' citizens, but also for the benefit of peace and security and stability in the region and around the world";
Whereas President Karzai said at the May 20, 2012, bilateral meeting with President Obama, "Mr. President, the partnership that we signed a few weeks ago in Kabul has turned a new page in our relations. And the new page is a page of two sovereign countries working together for the mutual interests--peace and security and in all other areas.";
Whereas, on May 26, 2012, the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament, approved the Agreement by a vote of 191--7 with 2 abstentions;
Whereas, on June 3, 2012, the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of the Afghan parliament, approved the Agreement by a vote of 67--13;
Whereas, on July 8, 2012, at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan reaffirmed their partnership in the economic growth and development of Afghanistan through a process of mutual commitments and accountability; and
Whereas, on July 4, 2012, the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement entered into force:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) commends the members of the United States Armedm Forces, intelligence community, and diplomatic and development community of the United States whose dedicated efforts and sacrifices in support of military and stability operations in Afghanistan have helped strengthen security in Afghanistan, laid the foundation for transition to a long-term partnership between the United States and a sovereign Afghanistan, and supported the Government and people of Afghanistan as they continue to build their capacity to effectively and justly govern;
(2) commends the committed diplomatic efforts of the United States negotiating team for the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, including the United States Embassy personnel in Kabul under the leadership of Ambassador Ryan Crocker;
(3) commends the Governments of the United States and Afghanistan for concluding the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement;
(4) supports the objectives and principles of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, including protecting and promoting shared democratic values, advancing long-term security, reinforcing regional security and cooperation, fostering social and economic development, upholding the rights of women and minorities, and strengthening institutions and governance in Afghanistan;
(5) calls on the Government and people of Afghanistan to fulfill Afghanistan's international commitments as agreed at the Tokyo Conference of July 2012, the Bonn Conference of December 2011, the Kabul Conference of July 2011, and other venues to combat corruption, protect the equal rights of all citizens of Afghanistan and enforce the rule of law, hold free and fair elections in 2014, and build inclusive and effective institutions of democratic governance;
(6) affirms that it is a key national security interest of the United States to maintain a long-term political, economic, and military relationship with Afghanistan, including a limited presence of United States Armed Forces for the purpose of training, advising, and supporting Afghan National Security Forces and cooperating on shared counterterrorism objectives; and
(7) affirms the critical role of the United States Congress in continuing to provide the support and assistance necessary to achieve the goals of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement.