Washington: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said Osama bin Laden’s death could end up being be a "game changer" in the war in Afghanistan, partly because the killed al Qaeda leader won’t be around to obstruct a possible deal with the Taliban.
"If we keep the military pressure on and continue to hold what we seized over the last year and expand the security envelope, a change in the relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban could, in fact, this fall or winter, create the circumstances where a reconciliation process could go forward," CBS News quoted Gates, as saying.
On being asked about his opinion about Americans who think that with bin Laden’s death, the US troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, he said: "I would say that we are getting the upper hand. We have over the last 18 months put in place, for the first time, the resources necessary to ensure that this threat does not rebuild, does not reemerge once we``re gone. I think we could be in a position by the end of this year, where we have turned the corner in Afghanistan."
Gates praised President Barack Obama for making one of the ‘most courageous calls’ that he had seen during his tenure of over 30 years under eight presidents, by ordering the country’s Special Forces to track down bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.
He also admired the way the operation was carried out with full coordination by the SEAL team despite the fact that they did not have ‘direct evidence’ whether bin Laden was actually present in the compound.
"It was a perfect fusion of intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, and military operations," he added.