Osama’s brand of Islamism was already history
Osama had no interest in democracy and the protesters in Cairo and Tunis had no interest in him
He was said once to have been an Arsenal fan. According to the testimony of local shopkeepers in Abbottabad following his death, Osama bin Laden may also have had a penchant for Coke and Fanta. One Western innovation the al-Qaeda leader never had any time for, however, was democracy.
Now that he has been consigned to the Arabian Sea, we can only speculate as to what Bin Laden can have thought of the Jasmine Revolutions sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. But they must have made him uneasy.
After years calling for the overthrow of the old generation of western orientated despots, Bin Laden certainly did not want to see democracy established in their place. His idea was to replace them with a new, even more authoritarian cadre of Islamist ideologues, inspired by himself.
That so many among the crowds in Cairo and Tunis were secular, western orientated, on Facebook, and female must have given even a man of his unbending outlook pause for thought.
For years the militants and the pro-Western regimes used each other to justify their own existence. But the revolutions that ousted the western puppets Bin Laden inveighed against for so long were led by people who had no time for him or for al-Qaeda.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the Jasmine revolutions, they have shown that Islamism is no longer the only political force to be reckoned with in the Arab world.
In Egypt, many fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge the winners in September's elections, and impose an Islamist regime. But the Brotherhood's statement issued after Bin Laden's death was remarkably muted and equivocal. With an election in the offing, even they clearly felt it best to keep their distance from the man many of them have hailed as a martyr.
So, by the time the Americans finally got their man, was he already a busted flush? In Iraq, once democracy was established - albeit a shaky one - al-Qaeda found itself marginalised. If pro-democracy movements can now become established elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, it will be a huge blow to all Bin Laden stood for.
Over the coming weeks and months, al-Qaeda may well seek to avenge his death with a wave of fresh attacks wherever they can mount them. But it will be what happens in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, over the next few years not months, that will determine just how enduring Bin Laden's influence across the Arab world really is. ·
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