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Bin Laden’s dead, now what?

2 JUNE, 2011: Osama Bin Laden’s demise in May at the hands of US Navy SEALS in Pakistan was received with mixed feelings by the international community. CBS News reported Americans bursting into “spontaneous celebrations” after President Obama broke the news on TV.  Others reacted less positively. Khalid Iqbal from the Pakistan Observer opines that the US military operation was a “blatant violation of the UN charter and international norms”, echoing an oft heard sentiment among many human rights groups including the UN and Human Rights Watch.

Ten years after the tragic 9/11 attacks, the man who started it all has finally been hunted down, but “Islamaphobia is not going to die out any time soon,” warns Indian Express writer Irene Akbar. “The War [on Terror] – started to punish the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks – may well outlast its architects,” concurs Gregg Carlstrom in Al Jazeera. America has fought on many fronts since that fateful day in 2001. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy points out that US military spending is now larger than that of all other countries combined, begging the question, “How long can this go on?”

The repercussions of Bin Laden’s death for Muslims is also unclear. Ahmed Rashid on BBC News grimly predicts that many “would-be jihadis will be mourning and swearing to give their lives in revenge.” Already a figurehead for Muslim extremists worldwide, Bin Laden’s death has made him something of a martyr according to The Manila Times. His value as a recruiting agent “may be even greater in death than in life,” concurs an article in The Economist.

Jason Burke from The Guardian disagrees, pointing out that since many branches of Al-Qaeda parted with central leadership long ago, his death “barely leaves these affiliate groups bereft.” James Dorsey from Al Arabiya adds that the risk Osama inspiring jihadists in death has “substantially diminished” since Al-Qaeda has been marginalised by the widespread anti-government protests in the Middle East and North Africa. More than the death of Bin Laden, “the greater setback has been in terms of loss of Muslim and Arab public opinion,” says Ferwaz Gerges in Al Jazeera’s TV special.

The question of what happens next remains unanswered, but as US News writer Brad Bannon cautions, “Terror will continue as long as we don’t address the underlying causes,” pointing to the Arab-Israeli conflict as one such example. “American imperialism, corporate avarice, abuses of our power abroad… have created an abhorrence of us that persists” in the Middle East. New York Times writer Robert Klitzman concludes, “An eye for an eye perpetuates a never-ending cycle of destruction”. So where, then, will the line be drawn? – Tenzing Y Thondup