Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Monday, May 26, 2014
President Obama pays surprise visit to Afghanistan to visit troops ahead of Memorial Day ( May 25 , 2014 ) , Afghan President Karzai refused to visit the Bagram military base when US President Barack Obama made a surprise visit there to meet troops on May 25. Similarly, the American president turned down a proposal for talks at Karzai’s palace in downtown Kabul......... Obama: Afghan Troop Deal Will Be Finalized With Karzai Successor Says Troop Levels Will Be Set Soon ....... June 14 , 2014 Run off election looms and then we shall see whether the Bilateral Security Agreement is signed and what the terms might be !
Speaking on his surprise trip to Afghanistan today, President Obama expressed hope that a troop deal would be finalized soon, and said he plans to make public the intended troop level for 2015 and beyond soon thereafter.
The part where he hassles President Hamid Karzai about the deal appears to be over, however, as he reportedly called Karzai today and informed himthat the pact will be settled with his successor.
That’s presumably going to be Abdullah Abdullah, who is facing a run-off vote against Ashraf Ghani on June 14. Abdullah is the front-runner, and has been pledging to sign the troop deal with the US shortly after his election.
The White House has been mum recently on troop levels for post-2014 Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has been seeking much larger levels than the administration was said to be considering,
Millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the first round of voting, and the IEC says that in addition to their own staff they are urging the Interior Ministry to fire several police chiefs who were involved.
The firings suggest the IEC is serious about reforming for the runoff this time around. During the 2009 vote, with its similarly enormous levels of fraud, they declined to make any reforms at all before the runoff, leading Abdullah Abdullah to withdraw entirely.
The Afghan president refused to visit the Bagram military base when US President Barack Obama made a surprise visit there to meet troops on May 25. Similarly, the American president turned down a proposal for talks at Karzai’s palace in downtown Kabul.
Air Force One flew all night to bring Obama from Washington, DC, to the airstrip of Kabul’s international airport in Bagram.
Officially, the American president had come to the US largest military base in Afghanistan to address troops ahead of the end of Afghan campaign.
“I'm here on a single mission, and that is to thank you for your extraordinary service,” Obama said in a speech before some 32,800 American service personnel, practically all of the US contingent in Afghanistan, making their probably last tour of duty to the country.
“Our combat mission [in Afghanistan] will be over,” Obama said, promising that “America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end.”
White House officials also made an arrangement to organize a tete-a-tete between Barack Obama and the outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has been stubbornly refusing to sign asecurity forces agreement throughout the last year of his term in office.
The Obama administration needs this agreement to justify presence of reportedly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the longest military campaign in American history will be officially over.
For Obama this could become the last attempt to talk Hamid Karzai into singing the security agreement, because on May 28, Afghan voters will choose between Abdullah Abdullah, the presidential candidate from National Coalition of Afghanistan, and independent candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in the runoff election for the next president of Afghanistan.
But Hamid Karzai rejected the invitation to meet Barack Obama at Bagram Airfield.
“President Karzai said he would warmly welcome him if he comes to the palace, but in no way would he go [to] Bagram to meet him,” Karzai's chief of staff Abdul Karim Khurram told Reuters.
An unspecified American official said on Sunday that Karzai was offered “the opportunity to come to Bagram, but we’re not surprised that it didn’t work on short notice.”
Bagram Airfield is a mere 40km from Kabul.
Instead of a face-to-face talk with Karzai, Obama had to consider himself satisfied with a 20-minute phone call to the Afghan president before his aircraft took off, the New York Times reported.
In all, Obama spent less than four hours on the ground at Bagram, delivering his speech to troops, conducting an on-site briefing with the US and ISAF military commanders in Afghanistan, and visiting wounded service members in hospital.
Hamid Karzai, who has spent all 13 years of the US occupation of Afghanistan in office and is now departing, has been consistent in turning down all kinds of proposals and threats to sign the security deal with Washington.
Without such an accord, the US may have to pull out of Afghanistan altogether by the end of 2014.