By Carlo Muñoz - 12/30/13 01:11 PM EST
A bleak assessment by U.S. intelligence officials on the future of Afghanistan after the planned American pullout in 2014 will not affect postwar negotiations between Washington and Kabul, the Defense Department said.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren would not comment specifically on the assessment, known as a national intelligence estimate (NIE), and its possible impact on talks with Afghanistan.
The intelligence assessment, first reported by The Washington Post, 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.
But Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to approve the U.S.-proposed postwar plan, known as the bilateral security agreement. The plan has already garnered approval from the Loya Jirga, an assembly of the Afghanistan's most powerful tribal leaders, earlier this month.
A slew of last-minute demands by Karzai, including the release of all Afghan prisoners at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay and banning members of a U.S. postwar force from entering Afghan homes, has President Obama considering a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan next year.
NATO Secretary-General Fogh Anders Rasmussen said Tuesday the alliance is preparing plans for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan if Kabul does not ratify the agreement.
For his part, Karzai dismissed the NIE's findings on Monday.
“We strongly reject that as baseless, as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Karzai spokesman Eimal Faizi told reporters in Kabul.
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."