President Obama is so sick of dealing with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai that he is seriously considering bringing American military involvement in the country to a speedy and complete end, senior administration officials tell CNN and the New York Times. The "zero option" of leaving no American troops in the country at all after the end of 2014 has been raised before, but it is now being seen as "a realistic path" and is one of the main options under consideration as relations with Karzai deteriorate, a senior US official in Kabul says.
Tensions between Obama and Karzai have been going downhill fast since the US began an effort last month to hold peace talks with the Taliban, insiders say, and a recent videoconference between the two ended with the relationship worse than ever after Karzai accused the US of abandoning the Afghan government and Obama responded by pointing out the American lives lost keeping his regime in power. The number of US troops in Afghanistan is set to go from the current 63,000 to 34,000 by next February. Most of those are expected to be gone by the end of 2014, but it is now possible that they could all be home by the end of next summer.