The US military is changing its Afghan exit strategy to give President Obama a chance to negotiate a security deal with whoever succeeds Hamid Karzai, the Wall Street Journal reports. Obama is increasingly frustrated with Karzai, with whom he pointedly hasn't spoken since last summer. "If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," a senior US official tells the Journal. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA (bilateral security agreement)."
For months, the US has been insisting it needs a deal ASAP. Karzai has insisted on leaving it up to his successor, in what Politico sees as an attempt to remain politically relevant after he leaves office. The new president might not take office until as late as August. The US official described it as a "game of chicken," adding, "We're just pulling our car off the side of the road." Obama will ask the military to start planning for a full withdrawal, but the schedule will allow the US to keep 10,000 troops in the country as planned should it reach a late deal. Asked to comment on the Journal report, the White House stuck to its previous comments on the matter, Reuters reports.