Afghan senate approved the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between Afghanistan and the United States of America on Sunday, June 03, 2012. Earlier, the chairman of Meshrano Jirga or upper house of the country's national assembly, Fazl Hadi Muslimyar had said that Iran's ambassador, Abul Fazl Zohrwand during a meeting asked him not to approve the SPA because it was against the interests of his country; Iran as well as Pakistan and Russia.
He had threatened the senate chairman that if the SPA was not disapproved, Iran would expel Afghan refugees. This threatening mobilized the members of Afghan National Assembly, as a result of which the SPA did not face any major obstruction to get approved. Afghanistan has signed SPA's with several other countries as well that include Britain, Germany, France, Italy and India. It is said that these SPA's will be included into the agenda of the two houses of the parliament soon for approval.
Afghanistan is preparing to sign strategic partnership agreements with some countries in the region as well. For instance, President Hamid Karzai is supposed to sign a strategic agreement with China this week when he attends the Shanghai organization meeting in Beijing. But the real question is on the Afghan government's ability and capacity to manage some of the conflicting interests that will be pursued by Afghanistan's strategic partners through these SPA's.
The other question is about the fate of the Taliban and other insurgent groups such as Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. This group has suspended the peace talks with Afghan officials in a protest to the signing of the SPA with the US. It has said that the SPA is a pretext for the long-term presence of US troops in Afghanistan.
Ghairat Bahir, a senior Hezb-e-Islami official had earlier said that there are ambiguities in the SPA and the Americans do not want to leave Afghanistan. In the meanwhile, there are doubts on President Karzai's will to make the most of the SPA's for the interests of the whole nation.
After the SPA was signed by him and his American counterpart, President Obama, President Karzai quickly politicized the content of the SPA by saying that the US has pledged to support the current presidential system versus parliamentary system. This happened while there is a growing consensus among Afghan political actors and international observers that the highly centralized power structure is the very cause of failure to develop good governance and deliver services to the Afghan people.