News24

Obama in surprise Afghanistan trip

2012-05-01 23:01

Kabul - US President Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday to conclude an agreement charting future relations with the country, making the unannounced trip in darkness on the first anniversary of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Shortly after he arrived, Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the strategic partnership pact, which sets out a future US role in Afghanistan, including aid and advisers, while trying to reassure Afghans that they will not be abandoned when most Nato combat troops leave in 2014.

Obama's plane landed with shades drawn at Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul, where only months ago thousands of Afghans rioted after US troops accidentally burned copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

Peace

Obama got off the plane and then boarded a helicopter with senior aides to meet Karzai at his walled garden palace in Kabul, where they signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and shook hands.

"The wages of war have been great for both our nations," Obama told Karzai, adding that he looked forward to a future of peace.

Obama's trip appeared to have multiple audiences.

To US voters in an election year, he sought to signal that the US combat role in Afghanistan is drawing to a close, and to remind them of the May 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed bin Laden.

Within Afghanistan, the palace signing ceremony may be aimed at sending a message to the Taliban and other insurgent groups that they cannot wait out the 130 000 foreign troops in the country, and retake power.

It could help push the insurgency's leaders to re-enter reconciliation talks with both the US and Afghan government.

But a senior US official cautioned that no matter what pacts are signed, "Afghanistan is still going to be the third poorest country in the world with a 70% literacy rate and some huge sectarian schisms."

"This is still going to be tough," the official said, adding that the expectation was that the Afghan government will be able to maintain basic security.

Comments
  • DREGstudios - 2012-05-02 00:45

    One year after Bin Laden’s death and over 10 years since 9/11, American citizens are still blindly allowing their civil liberties to be taken away one piece of legislation at a time. How much freedom are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the twin towers fell. These laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

      Fred - 2012-05-02 00:59

      That's the dark side of the legislation, but clearly it is not "simply a means to spy on US citizens". It has a real positive function too: to create safety and security.

      Fidel - 2012-05-02 10:19

      "A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny," wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

      Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-05-02 15:22

      Fred I admire your positive thought. But you will have to start realizing eventually That the us govt serves an elite interest which is hellbent on war abroad and silencing critics at home. The us can now indefinitely detain a US or any citizen for that matter without charge, torture you or assassinate you all because they think you might be a 'terrorist'. No conspiracies but FACT

      Fred - 2012-05-02 15:46

      Like your idea that the US attacked itself on 9/11, this is a distorted view of the US. It's impossible for anyone or any group of people to control 350 million people, a rabid media, and an independent judiciary all under the framework of a progressive, liberal constitution.

      Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-05-02 19:48

      Fred you are too blinkered too even investigate the possibility of mass control therefore your perception will always be narrow!!! The fact is most Americans and the world for that matter are too focused on sport and what stupid celebrities are up to too realize what's going on right in front of there faces!!!!

      Fred - 2012-05-02 20:51

      Dylan, you believe there US attacked itself on 9/11. Think about it. This is beyond being blinkered. As to the idea that "most Americans and the world are too focused on sport and celebrities": how do you know this? have you taken a poll? Where are the statistics to support it?

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-05-02 01:23

    Enoch

  • afrikeni - 2012-05-02 09:48

    I saw soldiers in perfect lines, well lit stage with perfect sound system. So tell me author - HOW WAS THIS VISIT A SURPRISE?

      Fidel - 2012-05-02 10:22

      Because it wasn't officially announced, Einstein..... I know already that he India Prime Minister will be making an OFFICIAL visit to this country this month.

  • Gerhard - 2012-05-02 10:34

    Fidel, so what???

      Fidel - 2012-05-02 11:17

      Calm down, there's no need to get your knickers in a twist!

  • Tebogo - 2012-05-02 14:37

    Obama is a liar! If Amerikkka had killed Bin Ladin, they would have arrogantly paraded his corpse to the media! They are also lying when they say they buried him Islamically! How do you kill someone on land and then bury him at sea? Utter lies!

      Fred - 2012-05-02 15:49

      If America had not killed Bin Laden and announced that it had, Bin Laden would have appeared on TV the next day parading himself in defiance. Instead Al-Quaida's official website has confirmed his death, and vowed revenge, again and again and again. Fortunately it doesn't have the ability to do much damage now. Twenty out of its thirty senior leaders have been killed.

  • Chris Zola Dube - 2012-05-02 18:25

  • Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-05-02 21:53

    Fred it was just an observation!! Can u not agree that the world is a little pre occupied with celebrity status and sport? Plus your only answer when told that criminal elements within the us govt were involved in 9/11 is bin laden admitted it. First of all have you ever heard him admit it?? Could he not be part of the plan?? You even refuse to look at evidence proving that the official report stinks!!!!!!

      Fred - 2012-05-02 22:00

      Dylan, his entire organization, him included, issued statement after statement claiming responsibility and threatening more attacks. One source is Peter Burgen. He interviewed Bin Laden, and others in his organization. It's a strange conversation to be having. It's a crazy idea. A waste of time really.

      Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-05-02 23:04

      Fred its only strange because you won't even entertain the fact!!! So what if bin laden admitted it that doesnt prove a thing. The fact of the matter is the official report doesn't make sense!!! Fire brought down the towers??? Oh please.

      Fred - 2012-05-02 23:20

      The problem is you entertain fantasies and make them fact. They're not. They're fantasies. I watched the towers go down. Of course it wasn't fire. The impact from the planes did it. Everyone knows this, except those few fringe but harmless "engineers" who have lost their way. The longer you believe this as fact, instead of fantasy, the more you'll loose your way. It's your choice.

      Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-05-03 09:45

      Fred you need to read the official story cos you are beginning to show yourself up, the official story claims FIRE caused the towers to collapse!!!!! Educate yourself

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-03 15:15

      The "official" story on the delusional fringe sites you visit and believe.

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