Re­vis­ing Agen­das

Southasia - - Briefing -

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.

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