A full Afghanistan troop withdrawal could come much sooner than originally anticipated. Being referred to as the “zero option,” President Obama is seriously considering removing all US forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
This change of plans, originally involving a more staggered withdrawal of US security forces, comes from increased tensions between the White House and the Karzai-lead Afghanistan government.
A senior official from the Obama administration told the press that the president was re-examining his options. The Huffington Post reports that while the speedy withdrawal was previously considered a “worse-case scenario” it has been upgraded by Washington to being “under serious consideration.”
President Hamid Karzai called off recent talks planned with US officials regarding the phasing out of US troops in Afghanistan, a move that could be seen as nearly the breaking point for President Obama.
Karzai reasons that he chose to cut off the security handover talks because of the recent decision by the US to start negotiations with representatives from the Taliban. These talks, the object of some controversy, follow the recent opening of a diplomatic office in Doha, Qatar.
An attempt to ease these tensions, in the form of a video conference between Obama and Karzai late last month, seemed to have little success at warming relations.
While a full withdrawal of Afghanistan troops has not been settled on by the White House as the current course, CNN says the anonymous official has confirmed it is much more likely now.
Previously the White House had announced that the US military presence in Afghanistan would be substantially smaller by 2014. These new details, however, could see a withdrawal more similar to the full pullout Iraq saw several years ago.
Almost 63,000 US troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan. Plans are already set to withdrawal Afghanistan troops leaving 34,000 by next February, a major reduction in US military presence in the region.
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