[Ed. – That’ll bolster Karzai’s negotiating position inside Afghanistan.]
President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon to ready a so-called zero-option plan for Afghanistan after an unsuccessful months-long campaign to pressure Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign an agreement that would leave a residual U.S. force there after the end of the year.
Obama delivered the news to Karzai yesterday in a telephone call ahead of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers meeting that begins today in Brussels, where the future of forces in Afghanistan will be a main topic.
The timing of Obama’s move suggests he wants to give NATO members “a precise sense of where we stand,” and to “enlist the allies in a more believable messaging to Karzai, because he obviously doesn’t believe us,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington. The announcement may be “an effort to make President Karzai believe this time we’re really serious about a zero option in a way that until now he’s discounted.” …
Trending: As Joe Biden’s mother would say…
Obama told Karzai that “because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning,” according to a statement released by the White House.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama was “very explicit” about the U.S. stance with Karzai.