The US is considering a complete troop withdrawal in Afghanistan in 2014 if the country’s president, Hamid Karzai, refuses to sign a security deal. Without the deal, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that the US will have no choice but to pull out all troops by next year, Reuters reports. While the US has been drawing down its presence in Afghanistan since 2011, it still has almost 50,000 troops in the country:
Reuters suggests that Karzai’s reluctance to sign the security agreement may have to do with the upcoming spring presidential elections:
Karzai’s defiance has surprised the many who had attended the Loya Jirga [an assembly of Afghan elders that met over the weekend], which he had proclaimed would have the final word on the security deal.
A senior politician in Kabul said it appeared that Karzai’s reluctance to let the deal go through stemmed from his eagerness to keep his hands on the levers of power in the run-up to a presidential election in April, when he is due to stand down.
“He is now in confrontation with his own nation as well as the United States,” said the politician, who asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, here’s a chart showing fatalities in the Afghanistan conflict over time: