"Afghanistan and the US have opened talks to keep American troops in the country after most Nato forces go home in 2014, but the thorny question of immunity for American soldiers, which in effect ended the US role in Iraq last year, is likely to prove a stumbling block.
The issue has been thrown into sharp relief by the Seattle trial of the US army staff sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused of the massacring 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, during a shooting spree at their homes in March. US prosecutors are seeking the death penalty but many Afghans, including some of the victims' relatives, want to see him brought before one of their own courts." The Guardian
This is going to go exactly the same way as the negotiations with Iraq went over a SOFA. This is not a mutual security pact. That kind of agreement was not a problem in Iraq. A SOFA gives US forces legal extra-territoriality while in a given foreign country.
The case of SSG Bales is illustrative of the point of a SOFA. Without a SOFA the Afghan government could demand that Bales be handed over for trial under Islamic law. Actually, they could demand that any soldier be handed over for any charge they wanted to make.
The wonkery across the world, the anti-Americans, the naive, etc., would probably think that a great idea. Why should soldiers not be thrown to "the dogs" or "the wogs" if that is convenient. After all, they are soldiers. Isn't that the purpose for which they exist? If they were worth more they would be working for a thinktank in Washington.
In spite of such sentiments, the SOFA problem will kill negotiations for a continued US presence. The US military will not accept a SOFAless agreement and neither will the US population and its representatives in Congress.
Karzai may think that our desire for SOF basing in his "country," will cause us to bend on this. It will not. The generals, the wonks and the business looters may think that the "good times" will "roll on." They will not.
Sooo, the US presence in Afghanistan will end at the end of 2014. It will be lonely in the embassy. pl