Obama in Afghanistan on anniversary of bin Laden's death

Published: May 2, 2012

Obama makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL: US President Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday to sign an agreement charting future relations with the country, making the secret trip on the first anniversary of the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Obama plans to deliver a televised address to Americans later on Tuesday. The US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement will set conditions for a US presence there after a 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of most NATO combat forces. As he fights for his re-election, Obama is seeking to portray his foreign policy record as a success.

His re-election campaign has made bin Laden’s death a key part of that argument, and the president’s visit to the country where militants hatched the September 11, 2001 attacks will reinforce that message. It also opens him up to criticism from Republicans, who say Obama has politicized bin Laden’s death.

After leaving Washington under cover of darkness late on Monday and flying overnight, Obama arrived at Bagram Air Base before visiting Kabul.

He planned to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his palace and will later make remarks to troops at Bagram. From Bagram, he also plans to deliver formal remarks about the Afghanistan war at 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 GMT).

Obama’s speech will focus on the strategic partnership agreement and is likely to put an emphasis on his plans to wind down the costly and unpopular Afghanistan war where nearly 3,000 US and NATO soldiers have died since the country was invaded in 2001.

After a US troop increase that Obama ordered in late 2009, US and NATO forces have managed to weaken Taliban militants, but the movement is far from defeated.

The White House wants to paint Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan as successful, despite continued violence there and problems with corruption that have raised concerns about the country’s future stability.

Republican Mitt Romney, Obama’s likely opponent in the November election, has criticized Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, saying the timeline for a withdrawal will only embolden militants and could leave the country vulnerable to a return to power of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan prior to the US-led invasion.

Obama plans to host NATO leaders in Chicago on May 20-21 for a summit to discuss the specifics of the troop withdrawals and look at ways to ensure that Afghanistan does not collapse into civil war when foreign forces leave.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (8)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 2, 2012 - 1:07AM

    So we are left alone in this strategic partnership.I think we are too busy in pulling each others legs and the role of our judiciary in this mess-up has played important role. Our politicians are not willing to reach any consensus and this is the reason that loud and clear message has come from our Army Chief that all should play in their own boundaries and stop pocking their noses in each others affairs of governance. Judiciary seems to be on war footing to pull down the whole system as soon as possible, why and for whom is a million dollar question? Message is clear that our strong arm wants democracy and quick decision on foreign relationships. I think this is time to call all political leadership and heads of judiciary to GHQ and tell them keep on fighting as long as you can but first give us clear cut policy on relationships with Afghanistan, India and USA (NATO) or allow us to educate you people what is good and what is bad for the country. In New York Times of today it has already been mentioned by name that Pakistan and Iran are main hurdle and also corruption in the Afghan government is seen with deep concern.

    Recommend

  • Californian
    May 2, 2012 - 1:45AM

    Preident Obama is in Kabul to sign a long term treaty for strategic partnership. This means that the US will stand with Afghanistan against all enemies. Take note. What will be Pakistan’s next move in this game of chess?

    Recommend

  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 2, 2012 - 2:12AM

    I knew that members of the Noble committee for peace prize were smart but I never realized that they also had foresight of giving Obama an award ahead of time for May 2 OBL. Now he can justify that noble award and I hope he shares that noble prize with his administration especially the Navy Seal and defense scientists for courage and right technology. This has restored the technology marvel of US.

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 2, 2012 - 6:12AM

    Anyone think Obama is going to stop in and visit Pakistan? — didn’t think so.

    Recommend

  • Ilyad
    May 2, 2012 - 7:12AM

    USA is betting on the wrong horse, once again, they have always been bitten by people they have considered friends. This is an extremely ungrateful man they are signing up with, who only rules the compound of his own palace, with the help and security of US and UN forces (NATO). If we take them out of the equation he will not last 24 minutes let alone hours. Put him in place by withdrawing all support and security, plus the money, and you will have him on his knees begging to approve anything you want. Just a thought….

    Recommend

  • Californian
    May 2, 2012 - 7:39AM

    In continuation of my previous post above, I would like to report that President Obama not only signed a very long term strategic partnership with Afghanistan, he also promised that America will fight on the side of Afghanistan against all enemies. Something to think about, when planning strategic depth..

    Recommend

  • RogerB
    May 2, 2012 - 10:54AM

    @ilyad: I agree with one part of your comment. Yes, we did bet on the wrong horse and continued supporting the duplicitous so-called ungrateful “friend”. This “ally” took our money and armament and used it to attack us and our friends around the world. Harbored one of the greatest criminal in modern times, and claimed no knowledge of him. We have learned our lesson. Ten years ago, this “ally” was told to join with us in the worldwide fight against terror or face being bombed into the stone age. We did not have to bomb this ally, because the ally is bent on going back to the stone age by his own actions. This ally was not Afghanistan.

    Recommend

  • Maxxx Hardcore
    May 3, 2012 - 8:24PM

    @LLyad

    You are parroting your media’s narrative when it comes to dealing with Hamid Karzai. Believe it or not, Hamid Karzai is the best thing that happened to Afghanistan. He is shrewd, calculating and above all a patriot that is looking out for his country and its people.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan