Obama is locked into his promise to draw down NATO troops from Afghanistan this summer. He has little choice, as British forces will begin to withdraw, thus depriving the US operation of its international legitimacy, however thin.
But the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated further, with the Taliban assassinating Karzai’s brother, a provincial ruler. So far the Taliban are winning against the puppet government in Kabul, and that situation will only be worsened by improving ties with Saudi Arabia and a return to business-as-usual with Pakistan which previously balanced its cooperation with the Taliban by allowing the US to conduct some drone raids against their officials. The Russians remain the only party with a traditional dislike of the Taliban, but their influence in Afghanistan is small. The Taliban are thus not inclined to offer the White House any concessions that will enable the US to make a show of ‘withdrawing with honor,’ especially now that the UNSC has rescinded their status as a terrorist organization.