News / Asia

Gates: bin Laden Death Could be 'Game Changer'

Defense Secretary Robert Gates waits for the start of a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2011
Defense Secretary Robert Gates waits for the start of a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2011
Al Pessin

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. military and intelligence operation that killed Osama bin Laden could be a "game changer" in the war in Afghanistan, but the impact may not be certain for months.

During a visit to an air force base in North Carolina, a serviceman asked Gates about the impact of the killing of bin Laden during the raid in Pakistan on Monday.

"There is a possibility that it could be a game changer. Bin Laden and Mullah Omar had a very close personal relationship," said Gates. "And there are others in the Taliban that have felt betrayed by al-Qaida, that it was because of al-Qaida’s attack on the United States that the Taliban got thrown out of Afghanistan. So, we’ll have to see what that relationship looks like."

Gates said it could be six months or more before it becomes clear exactly how bin Laden’s death will affect the Taliban-al-Qaida relationship.

The secretary also was asked a question that many in Washington are asking - whether bin Laden’s death will make it possible to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan more quickly than had been expected.

"The president has been clear that the pace of the drawdown will be conditions based. So, I think that while we will see some gradual drawdowns beginning in July, I think that how fast those drawdowns go will depend largely on the situation on the ground," said Gates.

President Barack Obama has promised the U.S. withdrawal will begin in July. But he and other NATO leaders have agreed to maintain what Gates calls a "robust" troop presence for the next several years. Officials say some foreign troops may remain in Afghanistan even after the planned handover of full security responsibility to Afghan forces in 2014.  

Gates also said the United States and Pakistan need to continue to work on their relationship. He praised Pakistan for doing more than he had expected to fight terrorism in recent years, but he said Pakistani officials may hedge their positions partly out of concern that the United States might withdraw from the region as it draws down its troops in Afghanistan. The relationship has been strained over several issues lately, and took another hit from the clandestine U.S. attack on bin Laden, just about 50 kilometers from the Pakistani capital.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs