Any disagreements will be resolved by a joint U.S.-Afghan committee including the defense minister and the U.S. forces commander, the agreement says. It does not specify how this higher-level committee would make its decisions.
The agreement says that Afghan forces will conduct home searches and that U.S. forces will be allowed to enter private compounds “only as required or requested.”
It’s unclear if a higher level of Afghan authority will actually mean that the targets of raids will be treated more humanely. There have been instances of villagers complaining that when Afghan forces conduct raids they also loot houses. Also, the U.S. military stopped transferring detainees to a number of Afghan prisons after the U.N. discovered evidence of torture at the facilities.
But it is clear that the memorandum brings a strategic partnership closer.
“It opens the way for the signing of the strategic partnership agreement which we hope our two presidents will be able to sign in the near future,” said Janan Mosazai, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. Both U.S. and Afghan officials have said that they expect to sign the full partnership deal in time for a NATO summit in Chicago in May.
The night raids deal follows an earlier memorandum signed on the transfer of authority over detentions to the Afghans — another issue that had threatened to derail the strategic partnership talks.
The detention pact sets forth a timetable to give Afghans operational control of facilities used to hold Afghan detainees, but it leaves decisions on who to release to a panel that includes American military officials that must come to a consensus before any detainee is let go — essentially giving the Americans the ability to veto any release.