Karzai dismisses US intelligence report on Taliban gains

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday said a U.S. intelligence assessment predicting gains in Afghanistan will be eroded by 2017 was baseless.

Karzai spokesman Eimal Faizi said Monday that Afghanistan rejected the assessment and suggested there was an ulterior motive.

“We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate predicted the Taliban will become increasingly influential in Afghanistan, even if the U.S. leaves several thousand troops for training after 2014 and continues providing aid to the Afghan government.

The report also says that Afghanistan would descend into chaos if a bilateral security agreement is not signed and all U.S. troops leave after 2014.

The Obama administration has warned it would consider the “zero option” if Afghanistan does not sign the security pact, although the U.S. has backed off its demand that the agreement be signed by the end of December.

Karzai has refused to sign the security agreement until after his successor is chosen in the spring presidential elections.

The U.S. has warned that if U.S. and allied troops leave, the billions in aid pledged to Afghanistan will also disappear.

Karzai has said the “zero option” is an empty threat.

"The U.S. won't go and I have realized that," told reporters last week, according to Reuters. “Look at all those buildings and bases they have built in Bagram, Helmand and their embassy compound.”

Karzai’s spokesman suggested the leaking of the intelligence report was an effort to push Karzai to give the Taliban some land to control in a peace deal.

"If it's a design to hand over parts of Afghanistan to the Taliban, we will never allow that and it will never succeed," Faizi said. "The Taliban can only come back through a political process."