On Tuesday, President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan on the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. The visit by the president was a surprise to troops in the country and to those back at home in the United States. The president’s goals for the trip included meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai while also signing an agreement that would keep the military presence of the United States in the country into the next decade.
The trip was incredibly secret in order to protect the safety of the president and those traveling with him. When news broke on Twitter and on some Afghan news channels, those outlets were asked to remove the tweets and stop reporting on the president’s trip. His arrival was also denied by the White House and officials from the U.S. embassy. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, the president was greeted by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Lt. General Mike Scaparrotti, Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan, Obama signed a ten-year agreement that keeps troops in the country well beyond the 2014 goal of ending combat operations in the country. The number of troops to remain in the country and the amount of financial aid the U.S. would provide to Afghanistan will be determined at a later date. Some military analysts claim that close to 20,000 troops could be in the country working as trainers and advisers under the new agreement.
Carl Levin, Democrat from Michigan, is the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman. He traveled to Afghanistan with the president and tweeted that he is “honored to be in Kabul w/President Obama to witness signing of historic partnership with Afghanistan.” Also in Kabul for the agreement signing was Senator Jack Reed, a democrat from Rhode Island.
The relationship between the Obama administration and Karzai has become cold over the past couple of years so many see this in-person meeting as a way to rescue the relationship. Many believe that Obama arriving in Afghanistan on the anniversary of the death of bin Laden played well into his re-election campaign. The agreement was scheduled to be finalized prior to an international conference to be held in May in the city of Chicago. The conference will involve donors to Afghanistan meeting.