With tensions rising between President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai becoming more contentious by the day, the “zero option” has been raised in the highest levels of the U.S. military. According to the present plan in place, there will be a “residual force” in place following 2014’s troop withdrawal. However, Karzai’s harsh accusations aimed at the United States has angered many top diplomats, including President Obama.
If the U.S. proceeds with the “zero option”, there will be no U.S. forces left in Afghanistan at all. This means the Afghans will be on their own to defend and protect themselves. This could put a great deal of pressure on this young democracy.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in tough talks with Hamid Karzai, may speed up U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and leave none behind, officials said.
The New York Times, quoting U.S. and European officials, reported talks with the Afghan president are frustrating Obama and as a result, the U.S. president is giving serious thought to bringing U.S. troops home before the end-of-2014 deadline and considering the “zero option,” which would leave no U.S. troops in the country, the newspaper said.
Currently, Obama administration and Afghan officials have been discussing leaving a small “residual force” of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the United States ends its combat operations by end of next year.
However, the officials told the Times Obama’s relationship with Karzai is getting more contentious. Last month’s rejection by Karzai of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar only made matters worse. Karzai also ended negotiations on a security agreement for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The Times, quoting U.S. and Afghan officials, said last month’s Obama-Karzai video conference to ease tensions also didn’t go well, with Karzai reportedly accusing the United States of trying to negotiate separate peace agreements with both the Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s government vulnerable.
Karzai has made similar accusations in the past but they were only meant for Afghan consumption, the newspaper said.
The report said the “zero option” had been raised even prior to the video conference. However, since then the option, similar to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, has progressed from being considered the worst-case scenario to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul, the officials told the Times.