Mohammed Al Fayad kindly offered to get his chauffeur to drive them to the Paris Ritz.
Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy SEALS. You all know this by now. I am not breaking the news. According to the US military he was shot dead in a firefight. If they could have captured him they would have – it would clearly better to have interrogated him and had him caged. Here is to the man who pulled the trigger!
I said in the title that nothing changes but that was an overstatement. Al Qa’eda is not as potent as it once was. It would be premature to predict its death throes just yet. The security situation has improved greatly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The anger engendered in the Muslim world by the US intervention in these lands has leached away considerably over the years.
It is notable that in the Arab Spring Al Qa’eda type Islam has been absent. None of the protests that I am aware of called for Islamism or displayed Bin Laden’s image. If these Arab states become fully democratic I suspect that political force will be a significant force in some of them such as Yemen and Libya but not the dominant one. Political Islam, whilst not to my taste, is not as dreadful as Al Qa’eda’s intolerance plus bazookas.
Was it worth topping Osama Bin Laden? Sometimes one chooses not to bump off one’s archenemy. It is said that the Allies considered taking out Adolf Hitler but decided that he was such an incompetent leader that it was better to leave him in situ. By whacking the enemy supremo one may provoke a huge attack by the enemy. It could galvanise them. Will it not turn him into a martyr? I can see there are some cons to killing Bin Laden. Let us examine the pros. Al Qa’eda is always trying to launch attacks anyway. It could demoralise Al Qa’eda. Bin Laden could have been killed anyway in a fight when the US did not even know he was present. There could now be a scrap between Al Qa’eda types who are all gunning for the top job. Whoever emerges in pole position might be a less effective leader than the one who went before. The US has proved that though it may take years it will track and eliminate its enemies.
I have heard that this raid was without the say so of the Pakistani Government. A poll showed some years ago that over 50% of Pakistanis support the Taleban morally. Let us say this was a freak poll – but even then a significant minority of Pakistanis have this attitude. The security forces to some extent reflect this. They are drawn from the populace and one can try to weed out those with pro-terrorists views but a few will slip through the net. That is why the Pakistani security forces have moles in them. These moles tip-off the Taleban and Al Qa’eda about raids. Sometimes people might alert Al Qa’eda and co due to fear of being killed if they do not or because they have been bought.
It does not look good for the Pakistani Army that the US Navy SEALS launched this raid very close to the Pakistan War Academy. With foreign helicopters coming in and all guns blazing they ought to have shot at the intruders. How did they know this was not India attacking them?
As Pak is embroiled in her own travails she has been unable to trouble India for a few years. A way to win instant popularity for a Pakistani ruler would be to up the ante against India. This would unite Islamists with many moderates.
When Saddam was arrested violence in Iraq did not abate. Indeed it stepped up as people who were anti-US no longer feared him being restored. The death of Al Zaraqawi did not lead to a quick reduction in violence in Iraq either. Yes, violence has been reduced in Iraq but it took years after the death of Al Zaraqawi. There was no cause and effect relationship. It was a gradual reduction due to the troop surge, smarter tactics and war weariness.
The death of Bin Laden is a milestone but it will not lead to an immediate or dramatic change. The change will be incremental.
Notably a US official at a White House press conference declined to answer questions about whether the burial at sea of Bin Laden was filmed. I suppose the US did not want a shrine for him to be established so they dumped the body. They were at pains to underline that they accorded his corpse respect and treated it as Islamic law dictates.