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Marwan Bishara
Marwan Bishara
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Analysis: Killing the alibi
Washington has less reason or justification to wage a war in Afghanistan now that bin Laden is no more.
Last Modified: 02 May 2011 09:18
The news of bin Laden's death brought many to the streets across US cities [AFP]

The killing of Osama bin Laden is a major symbolic victory for the Obama administration, but is it a game changer for the US strategy in the "Greater Middle East"?

After 10 years of pursuing al-Qaeda's leader, responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US has closed a chapter, but not the book, in its war on al-Qaeda and "international terrorism".
 
Since the attacks on New York and Washington, "al-Qaeda central" which was being run from the Pakistani Afghan border, has mutated into a global network of affiliates.
 
US "terrorism experts" have been split over the relevance of "al-Qaeda central" under the direct leadership of bin Laden and his lieutenants, in comparison to the global network of smaller cells and hardcore fighters who pledged allegiance to the leadership, or to put it bluntly, to the brand: "al-Qaeda".
 
Those who discount the importance of the 'disconnected and on-the-run' al-Qaeda leaders on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan underline the importance of the decentralisation of the group.
 
They refer to it as SPIN (segmented, polycentric, ideologically networked) group, where al-Qaeda fighters in various parts of the world have increasingly acted on their own without direct orders or logistical and financial support from "al-Qaeda central".
 
In that way, al-Qaeda was more of a global and post-modern creature or phenomenon than a religious one.

What now?
 
While it has continued to invoke Islam and Jihad to rally support and to incite against non-Muslims, in reality its organisation and outreach, whether through the web or the use of modern technology, has been at the heart of its appeal as a global network.
 
Be that as it may, the physical death of bin Laden will no doubt lead to a serious psychological and inspirational setback for al-Qaeda fighters and their causes.
 
But for the Muslim world, bin Laden has already been made irrelevant by the Arab Spring that underlined the meaning of peoples power through peaceful means.
 
It is also worth recalling that bin Laden's al-Qaeda and its affiliates have killed far more Arabs and Muslims than they did Westerners.
 
And it was only after they failed to garner real support in the Arab world that they ran back to Afghanistan and began to target the West.
 
After long hijacking Arab and Muslim causes through its bloody attacks on Western targets, al-Qaeda has been discredited since 9/11 and its organisational capacity diminished by Western counter terror measures.
 
Al-Qaeda's bin Laden has provided the Bush administration with the excuse to launch its disastrous and costly wars in the greater Middle East.
 
As expected, Washington's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continued to provide al-Qaeda with fresh recruits and support in the Muslim world and perpetuate a cycle of violence that ripped through the region for the last decade.
 
However, it has been the more implicit and less costly US and Western intelligence services that succeeded to a large degree in curtailing al-Qaeda activities, limiting the movement of its leaders that eventually led to his killing.
 
So what will this mean for the US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Certainly Washington has less reason or justification to wage a war in Afghanistan now that bin Laden is no more.
 
It might also find more readiness among certain Taliban leaders in the absence of the thorniest issue of al-Qaeda, to make a deal that insures a power sharing arrangement in favour of the Taliban in return for curbing the use of Afghanistan by al-Qaeda to export "terrorism".
 
Bin Laden will continue to be a distraction for the short term, and especially if some of al-Qaeda groups muster revenge attacks.
 
But in the long term, it is the historical transformations in the Arab and Muslim world that will eventually close the book on al-Qaeda. 

Source:
Al Jazeera
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