President Barack Obama is preparing to completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 without an agreement from the Afghan government for counterterrorism, the White House said.
Obama spoke Tuesday on the phone with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who has been resistant about signing a renewed bilateral security agreement for the U.S. to train Afghan troops after winding down the war effort.
“Absent a BSA there will not be any U.S. troops on the ground by the end of the year,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
The U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan since after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Carney said the war will end at the end of 2014, and the U.S. is only set to provide security.
“The mission at the end of the day will be based solely on counterterrorism and the training and support of Afghan security forces,” Carney said. “The war ends this year, at the end of this year.”
According to the White House summary of Obama and Karzai’s conversation, Obama told his Afghan counterpart 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.”
Obama “has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014,” the White House said.
Further, even if Karzai comes around to signing on to a security agreement, he’ll have less help from the U.S. the longer he waits, the White House said.
“The longer we go … the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission,” the White House summary said. “Furthermore … more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition.”
Shortly after the phone conversation with Karzai, Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the Oval Office, where the two discussed Afghanistan, among other topics.
“It’s inconceivable to us that leaders in Congress would allow for a U.S. troop presence without having signed a bilateral security agreement in Afghanistan,” Carney said. “As we’ve been saying since the beginning of the year, the longer we wait, the more likely we end up with a zero option, with no troops at all beyond 2014 because we cannot and will not have U.S. troops on the ground without a signed BSA.”