The International Security Assistance Force is due to end its mission and turn over its responsibilities to curb a resurgent insurgency to the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and to Afghan's new president, Ashraf Ghani.
One big fear is that after the withdrawal the Taliban could make the country ungovernable. Another is that Afghanistan could again become a haven for terrorist organizations. There are also concerns that a potential security vacuum could prompt a proxy conflict in Afghanistan between regional rivals India and Pakistan. And next door Pakistan is a worry in its own right.
Previous President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US, straining ties and raising security fears.
Most Nato forces are due to withdraw at the end of December, leaving 9,800 US troops behind and another small US-led force to deal with the remnants of al-Qaeda.
Date written/update: 2013-11-20