Obama’s Surprise Visit to Afghanistan
As the presidential elections in Afghanistan have overshadowed the US-Afghanistan relations, US president Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday. According to the reports he visited US troops stationed in Afghanistan as the country is declining its military presence and ending the long-lasting Afghan war. On Sunday, there were mixed reports whether Obama would meet Afghanistan’s outgoing president during his visit in the country. Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan is coming at a time when US military planners are feeling the urgency of having a plan on hand for determining the nature of military presence of the United States in post-2014 Afghanistan. Afghanistan and the United States have been unable to resolve the deadlock over security pact between the two countries that is supposed to define the future course for security cooperation between the two countries and allow American prolonged military presence in Afghanistan.
Barack Obama’s unannounced trip to Afghanistan is particularly important for the ongoing security transition and troop withdrawal as the fate of the Bilateral Security Agreement is remaining in limbo. American military planners are planning for contingency plans in case of any unexpected situation regarding the continuation of US mission in Afghanistan. Given the success of Afghan military forces and the unresolved security pact between Washington and Kabul, the US is weighing a smaller size of troops for the post-2014 Afghan mission. Despite that the American war commanders in the field have recommended a sustainable size of force to remain in Afghanistan after the end of the war, the Obama administration is increasingly declining towards leaving a smaller size of military in Afghanistan.
During his visit to Afghanistan, Obama assesses the arrangements in place for smooth process of withdrawal to ensure a sustainable and assured end for the war. In the meantime, as the Afghan election is not going to produce a winner for at least two more months, Obama wants to hear from the military commanders over the arrangements for ongoing security transition. The pledges made by both Afghanistan presidential hopefuls over the signing of the bilateral security agreement with Washington have provided assurances for the Obama administration on the conclusion of the security pact. However, the unresolved situation in both the elections and the military negotiations between the two countries is a concern for the United States.
Reportedly, Barack Obama may not a planned meeting with President Hamid Karzai during his surprise visit to Kabul. This, on one hand, suggests the profound impact of President Karzai refusal to sign the agreement on the bilateral relations between the two countries and the crucial security cooperation between Kabul and Washington in the future. On the other hand, it will indicate that the United States is not expecting on President Karzai to do something about the signing of the security agreement. It also shows that the United States is quite sure over the signing of the pact over which the two countries have been negotiating for over two years by Afghanistan’s next president.