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f_0022430_18484 - THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 PAGE 7...

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Defence Policy Xenia Dormandy PAGE 7 AP PHOTO/CHARLES DHARAPAK THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 The Changıng Debate President Barack Obama delivers a policy address in Washington on events in the Middle East. The end of an era? With a surprisingly subdued bang, the ten-year drive to find Osama bin Laden is over. The first night saw Washingtonians, mainly students who grew up in the ‘bin Laden era’, celebrating outside the White House. A week followed of front page news coverage analysing the Black Op and dissecting the small nuggets of information being released by the White House, alongside the predictable political debate between Republicans and Democrats over what was done right and wrong. l ARGELY CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES were received by the Barack Obama administration from other nations (the exception being Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, who condemned the assassination of an Arab holy warrior). But a few weeks on and the news has largely moved to the inner pages and to a longer-term assessment of the implications. So, how has bin Laden’s capture and death changed the debate, and what does this mean for America, its policy, use of resources, and politics? For now, at least, we should consider the threat of al Qaeda to be unchanged. Osama bin Laden was an ideological figurehead, no longer the day- to-day operational leader of the group. That role is being performed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who still runs free. While information collected during the operation suggests that bin Laden was still very involved in the strategic decisions of the
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organisation, his death is unlikely to impact on operations already in planning except in two respects. Firstly, some actions could be moved forward in retaliation for his killing. And secondly, attacks may be reassessed if information on them was gathered during the operation.
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