President Hamid Karzai recently met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the future of Afghanistan. The two countries have been fighting the war against terrorism for over a decade now, with Afghanistan serving as the base for U.S. forces in the South Asian region. The meeting took place at a time when both countries are anticipating a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan following NATO withdrawal in 2014. The meeting comes at a time when the Obama administration publicly announced a “zero option” strategy signaling a security strategy shift whereby the U.S. will pull out all troops from Afghanistan.
During the four-day visit, President Karzai also held meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has recently returned to her job. President Karzai’s meeting with his U.S. counterpart is the first after President Obama won a second term in office. According to sources, the Obama administration is struggling to determine the best strategy to withdraw from the combat mission in Afghanistan, which costs an estimated $28 million a day.
As per earlier statements, the Obama administration was planning to maintain a residual force of nearly 9,000 troops in Afghanistan to oversee a peaceful transition and provide training and assistance to Afghan troops. Though performing a non-combatant role, a residual force was seen as necessary to prevent the country from imploding as it had earlier, following the Soviet withdrawal in the 1980s. With a financial crisis looming in the US and strong public opposition to prolonging the war, perhaps America’s priority to not repeat mistakes, has dwindled.