On Friday, President Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan agreed to accelerate the combat operations handover to Afghan forces in Afghanistan. This raises the prospect of the U.S. withdrawing quicker from the country and adding to the determination of Obama to wind down the unpopular war that has carried on for too long.
The agreement signals the two have narrowed differences, as it appeared that Karzai had given ground on the U.S. demands for complete immunity from any prosecution for all American troops who remain beyond 2014 in Afghanistan. That concession would allow Obama to maintain a small residual military force present in the country.
Both heads of state gave their support to the tentative reconciliation efforts between Afghanistan and Taliban insurgents and giving support to the establishment of a political office for the Taliban in Qatar in hopes it will help convince the insurgents to start talks.
On the surface, the meeting looked as if it were a success for the two men, who both needed to show different publics that they were making progress towards their goals for the country. No signs of any friction between the two men was present. The two have frequently disagreed and that has marked the relationship between the two.
Obama said at a White House news conference that by the end of 2014 the military transition would be concluded. At that time, said Obama, Afghans will be in complete control and have full responsibility for the country’s security and the war will end in a responsible way.
A small force of 3,000 to 9,000 troops is being considered by the White House administration to remain in Afghanistan after the transition has taken place.