During her visit to Afghanistan yesterday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice apparently reiterated the US ultimatum, demanding that President Karzai sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) by the end of the year or face a full withdrawal of US occupation forces in 2014.
The threat is intended to coax Karzai into signing the deal quickly, instead of waiting until April’s elections, on the idea that the Afghan government couldn’t survive without occupation forces backing them up.
While that’s possibly the case, it’s not a big threat to Karzai, whose term in office ends in 2014 at any rate, and may well leave the country to avoid legal retaliation if his successor ends up being a political rival.
The Karzai government also doesn’t think the threat is a sincere one, since the Pentagon has repeatedly said there had been no consideration of not having ground troops in the nation in 2015. Though the Obama Administration is playing up the idea of growing talks about it, it remains unclear if leaving is really an option they’re considering, or just an idle threat aimed at avoiding Karzai’s demands for better terms.