This Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination and what President Barack Obama called, “the most significant achievement to date” in the war against al-Qaeda. Killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan after a decade-long search, bin Laden’s death is undoubtedly an important American achievement.
But aside from serving as a platform for President Obama’s reelection campaign, bin Laden’s assassination has had little effect on either ending the war in Afghanistan or bringing America’s Pakistani “allies” into line.
Osama bin Laden (Photo: AP)
Events move quickly. In the last week alone: two Afghan coalition troops were injured and one killed by Afghan soldiers, Washington and Kabul brokered an agreement securing a U.S. presence in Afghanistan until 2024, and a diplomatic stalemate between the U.S. and Pakistan was reaffirmed when Islamabad refused to reopen its NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. They have been closed since last November.
In addition, despite bin Laden being found less than a mile from its premier military academy, Pakistan is still host to America’s greatest enemies, including current al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, Afghan insurgent leaders Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Pakistani Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed. Worse yet, Pakistan’s tolerance of Islamic extremist terrorist organizations such as the Haqqani network — responsible for recent deadly attacks against Kabul — critically compromises a successful U.S. and ally withdrawal in 2014.
One year after bin Laden’s death, the war in Afghanistan persists, al-Qaeda and the Taliban’s resilience endures, and anti-American sentiments throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to escalate. While the world is no doubt safer without bin Laden, his radical, Islamist extremist, anti-Western philosophy lives on. In holding steadfast to deadlines in spite of this, the Obama administration is creating the conditions for a power vacuum that would allow opportunists to exploit Afghanistan’s fragility as a newly autonomous state.