Barack Obama pledges to 'finish the job' in Afghanistan

 

Mr Obama hailed the approaching end of the war and thanked US troops

US President Barack Obama has pledged to "finish the job" and end the Afghan war, addressing the US public live from a military base in Afghanistan.

Speaking a year after Osama Bin Laden's killing, Mr Obama thanked US troops and hailed plans to end combat operations.

He arrived in Kabul on a surprise visit lasting a few hours to sign an accord on future Afghan-US ties with President Hamid Karzai, ahead of a Nato summit.

Hours after his speech, at least seven people died in an attack in Kabul.

Afghan officials said at least two suicide bombers targeted a residential compound popular with foreigners in the eastern part of the capital.

They said at least four of those killed were from a nearby school. Seventeen people were wounded. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A spokesman for the Nato-led force praised the Afghan security forces for "taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents".

Analysis

The partnership addresses long-term Afghan financial and security needs and aims to make clear the West is not cutting and running.

That's an important message for audiences in Nato countries, as well as in Afghanistan. But it also sends a signal to the militants and their supporters eyeing up the "end game".

More than 20 drafts were exchanged before the final text could be agreed. Clauses were also inserted late on to try to reassure neighbours like Iran and Pakistan who are nervous about a continued US presence.

Change will be gradual. The US will retain a large degree of influence - but less and less control - over key areas like prisons and night raids. Crucially for Afghans, they now have a framework for gaining control of these issues.

The deal will not itself provide a durable peace - that will need many other steps, including a settlement with the insurgent groups and the co-operation of Afghanistan's neighbours.

'National security'

Earlier, Mr Obama said signing the pact with President Karzai was "a historic moment" for both nations.

His visit and TV address came as the patience of the US public with the war in Afghanistan is wearing thin.

In the speech, beamed back to prime-time evening audiences in the US, the president said that at the forthcoming Nato summit, to be held in Chicago later this month, the alliance would "set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year".

Nato has already committed to withdrawing from combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

"I will not keep Americans in harm's way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security," Mr Obama said. "But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly."

Correspondents say Mr Obama's words appear to be aimed at showing American voters he is pursuing a strategy to wind down the war, while reassuring Afghans in the face of a continuing Taliban insurgency.

'Path to peace'

About 23,000 of the 88,000 US troops currently in the country are expected to leave Afghanistan by the summer, with all US and Nato combat troops out by the end of 2014.

"It is time to renew America," Mr Obama said towards the end of his remarks.

"My fellow Americans, we have travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.

"The Iraq war is over. The number of our troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfil our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaeda."

Start Quote

Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai on 1 May 2012

America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty”

End Quote Barack Obama US President

During the speech, Mr Obama outlined the agreement he had just signed with Mr Karzai.

The BBC's Paul Adams says 20 months of negotiation finally produced an agreement after differences over night raids by Nato special forces and the handling of prisoners were ironed out.

According to the US president, the document outlines plans for training Afghan forces and supporting counter-terrorism efforts, as well as "Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability".

Mr Obama also spoke of a "negotiated peace" with the Taliban, saying that if insurgents broke with al-Qaeda, and followed the "path to peace", there could be reconciliation.

He said that ahead of the Chicago meeting of Nato, he had made it clear to Pakistan that it could be an "equal partner in the process".

Pakistan and US relations soured after Mr Obama launched the raid that killed Bin Laden inside the country's border.

"In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty."

Mr Obama also rejected calls to leave Afghanistan in advance of the 2014 Nato timeline, saying "we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly".

President Karzai said after the meeting: "By signing this document, we close the last 10 years and open a new season of equal relations."

The Taliban accused him of selling Afghan sovereignty to the Americans.

In the wake of the agreement, the US is to designate Afghanistan as a major non-Nato ally, US officials are quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The deal does not commit the US to any specific spending or troop presence, but does leave the way open for Washington to keep forces in Afghanistan until 2024, the Associated Press reports.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 279.

    Obama won't say this, but he knows the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause and that once the US has left the warlords (Taliban or otherwise) will take over again. That's why he has committed to withdrawal, saving American troops' lives, and to his credit is doing it in the most diplomatic way he can. Drones, cruise missiles and special forces will still be available to tackle future threats there.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 278.

    Obama never helped afghanistan, he just want to make afghani people bad to others.
    their do bombo in afghani than their said is afghani people but in fact is not so it will much better if American leave afghanistan and i am sure their will being peace to our country.

    i cant wait them to leave afghanistan!!!!!

  • Comment number 277.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 276.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 275.

    @LillyBlow

    Sir Robert Walpole

    Does that name ring a bell?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 274.

    @263.coastwalker
    '...Afghanistan where the actual terrorists were based.'

    I think you'll find the country you're looking for is Saudi Arabia.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 273.

    @262.Northern1
    "you'd rather live free in the west"

    The 'west' is only free insofar as you do what they tell you to do, say what you're allowed to say, think what you're allowed to think. We have no constitution here or bill of rights, and the same are being demolished in the USA.

    The middle east isn't free, but the troubles there are of the west's causing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 272.

    Agreement PLEDGES ongoing US support for Afghanistan even after 88,000 US combat forces leave. Pact suggests wide-ranging US involvement in Afghan economic & security affairs for decades; in other words, it gives US foothold in Afghanistan against Taliban-led militants or al-Qaeda, & of course proximity to Iran. (Taliban claimed responsibility for attacks that rocked Kabul few hours later.)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 271.

    I doubt the people who run this show are really interested in civil liberties. The elite are gradually taking liberty from the American people whilst showcasing a heroic effort to establish some good in the middle-east (and taking their pick of oil and opium reserves while they are at it)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 270.

    253.Northern1

    You could be talking about Saudi Arabia in your comments, but I guess we won't go and bomb them because they are our friendly Islamo-fascists?
    The soldiers never asked to go to Afghanistan, they are doing their job. Don't put their lives on the conscience of people who are against these war, it's political decisions that kill them.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 269.

    "Finish the job"???

    What does that even mean? I can't think of one achievement of the Afgan war - going by news reports the place is still complete chaos is only going to get worse! Give it 5 years and it will be back to way it was when we invaded a decade ago. It's not a place that we will ever understand so why try to force our values on it?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 268.

    259. "I don't think it's accurate to describe a state of civil war existing in Afghanistan between 1990 and 2001."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_war_in_Afghanistan_(1992-1996)

    How does that not constitute a civil war?

    And are you seriously suggesting the Northern Alliance-backed government are worse Islamic fundamentalists than the Taleban?

  • Comment number 267.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 266.

    well america will never really leave afghanistan, just like iraq, because there are money to make from the opium, the CIA is the world biggest drugs dealer, there are more poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons, then in any one year during the Taliban rule, also afghan is the world largest producer of hashish, wikipedia . obama looking after obama .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 265.

    #255: Shame the facts don't support your theories. Iraq launched Scud missile attacks against Israel during the Gulf War; Iran has provided funding, weapons and training to terrorist groups intent on destroying Israel. No "conspiracy" is required to justify provision of support by the US and its allies to Israel, a democratic, pluralistic state whose existence has been under threat since 1948.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 264.

    For all those wondering why your comments get voted down.. check this link out : http://bit.ly/IGBBaq

    Anything Britain does in favour of wasting its resources for countries like Israel is voted down by people enrolled on Israelis Cyber Citizens Programme.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 263.

    I suspect most of us in the UK are barely aware that it is still going on. Ironic really that we invaded Iraq before turning to Afghanistan where the actual terrorists were based. I think most people think that the war on terror is a pack of lies. I have absolutely no idea who our friends are and why they are our friends, likewise our enemies.

  • Comment number 262.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 261.

    Secret flight to sign security compact with Afghanistan. It was signed after midnight in Kabul - 4 am in Kabul when Obama addressed Americans-on network TV. By the time most Afghans woke up, Obama was gone. "My fellow Americans…"
    Backdrop: armored troop carriers.
    Appeal: to American optimism & his own self-interest to win election.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 260.

    @252.Chris Neville-Smith
    "accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being blind and lazy"

    Debate = "I disagree with you because "
    Blind/Lazy = "Rubbish "

    There's a difference.

 

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