Al Qaeda on the ropes? Little Arab outrage over Osama bin Laden's death.
Osama bin Laden's death stirred little open anger in the Arab world – a sign to some experts that, in the 'battle of competing narratives,' US pro-democracy rhetoric is trumping Al Qaeda terror.
Since 9/11, Al Qaeda and the United States have been at war not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in what one expert calls a "battle of competing narratives" across the Middle East. On one side, the US has promoted a vision of change through democratic principles, while Al Qaeda has sought to topple hated regimes through violence and terror.Skip to next paragraph
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On Monday in Yemen, for example, organizers of rallies aimed at bringing down the autocratic regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh cautioned fellow protesters against holding aloft images of Mr. bin Laden. “We are not working with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. We have one cause and it is the fall of the regime,” one protester in Sanaa told Reuters.
Moreover, on Facebook, movement organizers implored followers not to “raise pictures or banners or mention bin Laden” in a manner that could be exploited by the Saleh regime.
As the news of bin Laden’s death sank in across the Arab world, anti-US demonstrations popped up in a few places, and at least one leader, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh, mourned the Al Qaeda leader as an “Arab holy warrior.”
Little outcry in Arab world
But there was no mass outpouring of bin Laden sympathy in countries such as Egypt and Yemen, which are deeply involved in the sweeping regional effort for change known as the Arab Spring. The lack of Arab fury over bin Laden’s demise – and the continuing focus on change through peaceful protest – is a sure sign to some regional analysts that bin Laden’s appeal had long since faded. His death may have simply been the coup de grâce, they add.
Bin Laden’s death “comes at a time when Al Qaeda’s narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world,” says Martin Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.