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Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan Obama says
Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan, Obama saysAl Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan, ending a years-long hunt for the mastermind of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
May 2, 2011 10:35 by Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news in a speech and said bin Laden’s body had been recovered following the U.S.-led operation near Islamabad. The following are comments on the possible impact on politics and the geopolitcal environment from a select few:
FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, LONDON:
“Bin Laden’s death is a significant victory for the United States. But it is more symbolic than concrete.
“The world had already moved beyond bin Laden and al Qaeda. Operationally al Qaeda’s command and control had been crippled and their top leaders had either been arrested or killed.
“There are no more than 300 members of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afganistan, according to Western intelligence.
“More importantly al Qaeda has lost the struggle for hearts and minds in the Arab world and elsewhere and has had trouble attracting followers and skilled recruits.
“Now, the Arab revolutions have dealt a fatal blow to al Qaeda’s ideology. The Arab revolutions had exposed al Qaeda’s irrelevance to the concrete challenges facing Arab societies.
“It also brings closure. Al Qaeda has really taken hold on the U.S. imagination and bin Laden’s death now brings closure for Americans, and it also signals closure for the war on terror which has exacted an enormous toll on the West.”
THOMAS HEGGHAMMER, RESEARCH FELLOW, NORWEGIAN DEFENCE RESEARCH ESTABLISHMENT:
“The main effect will be a loss of al Qaeda morale in the long term. It is bad for al Qaeda and the jihadi movements. Bin Laden was a symbol of al Qaeda’s longevity and its defiance of the West.
“Now that symbol is gone and his martyrdom is not going to be as powerful a rallying cry, because there are already so many martyrs in the jihadi movements. For example the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq dealt a blow to his group, al Qaeda in Iraq, and it was not given new impetus by his death.
“So bin Laden’s death compounds al Qaeda’s decline. But I don’t think this affects the Taliban insurgency.”
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION:
“Although he (bin Laden) may be dead, trans-national terrorism will not die with him. His ideology and doctrine remains relevant to global jihadists. Al-Qaeda central’s influence has been on the decline for the last 5 years.
“It is not a surprise that bin Laden was captured in an urban heartland. Many of al-Qaeda’s senior leaders have been captured in Pakistani cities. It had become a myth that the al Qaeda leadership were hiding in caves in the tribal areas.
“Al Qaeda has faced challenges in terms of being operationally confined because of the drone strikes as well being unable to replenish its ranks.
“Al Qaeda’s trans-national role has gradually ceded to other emerging terrorist groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Lashkar e Taiba. It’s important to remember that al Qaeda’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahri is still at large and his role in articulating the organisation’s agenda remains intact.
“The possibility of reprisals also remains a serious reality although it may not happen instantly.”
JAMAL KHASHOGGI, SAUDI COMMENTATOR AND INDEPENDENT ANALYST:
“I’m not really surprised that this happened, this was long overdue. I expected this to happed after 9/11. This is a very proud time in the name of history.
“Osama had started off with moderate opposition but then he took a wrong turn along the way. The Arab people today took the right turn. Three months ago I would say that his death would not be so glorified, but it came at the right time. The people at Tahrir square had shutdown the ideas and concepts of bin Laden. This was the right time to end this unfortunate turn, Al Qaeda is not the norm of Arab or Muslim politics.
“This is a relief for Saudi Arabia. There are some elements of al Qaeda in Yemen, but the Yemeni people showed the world that they are a peaceful people, by holding peaceful demonstrations in an effort to oust their president. He was a close friend of mine and I felt sorry for him a long time ago, he gave in to his anger which was his biggest weakness. I guess that’s what he wanted and what he expected to happen in the end.”
MARTIN INDYK, VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN POLICY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON (INDYK IS A FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS):
Indyk described bin Laden’s death as “a body blow” to al Qaeda.
“Their narrative is that violence and terrorism is the way to redeem Arab dignity and rights and what the people in the streets across the Arab world are doing is redeeming their rights and their dignity through peaceful protests, nonviolent protests — the exact opposite of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden has been preaching.
“He hasn’t managed to overthrow any government, and they are overthrowing one after the other. I would say that the combination of the two puts al Qaeda in real crisis.”
RICK “OZZIE” NELSON, AFGHANISTAN VETERAN AND FELLOW AT THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, WASHINGTON:
“This is an incredible moment that has come after a long pursuit, with lots of resources and time invested. It is important to remember that before we project to the future (what this means), it is first and foremost justice delivered.
“It changes little in terms of on-the-ground realities — by the time of his death, bin Laden was not delivering operational or tactical orders to the numerous al Qaeda affiliates across the world or the rising crop of “inspired” individuals.
“Its ultimate significance will be on a strategic/symbolic level. It’s incumbent on the Obama administration to seize on this moment, especially amid the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Bin Laden’s death will not necessarily ensure the end of al Qaeda, but his death gives the international community an opportunity to end al Qaeda, as it could never be terminated without his death.
“Also, it is important in terms of what it could inspire in retaliation. The U.S. and its allies must be particularly vigilant in the following days, weeks, and perhaps, months as al Qaeda sympathizers and affiliates react to his death.
JOSHUA FOUST, CENTRAL ASIA EXPERT, AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT:
“I don’t think this will change much. Osama bin Laden doesn’t have an operational effect on the insurgency in Afghanistan, or on global terrorism. But if Obama is smart, he’ll use this to declare a victory of sorts and push for a bigger, faster draw down.
“The real work starts now; if he really was killed in Islamabad, that’s a big deal. (The government of Pakistan and the Inter Services Intelligence have) a lot of explaining to do if true.”
GOPALAPURAM PARTHASARTHY, FORMER INDIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER TO PAKISTAN, NEW DELHI:
“Are the Pakistanis now going to claim they did not know he was there in their country? Either they are incompetent or comp licit in this.
“This is between the U.S. and Pakistan