Killing of Zawahiri aimed at boosting Biden’s popularity — experts

Assassination will not contribute to reducing terrorism rates globally

joe biden
US President Joe Biden speaks on a “successful” counterterrorism operation that killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri, from the Blue Room balcony of the White House in Washington, DC on August 1, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — Jordan, like many other countries, welcomed the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a US drone strike on his hideout in Kabul on Monday. Questions, however, were raised about the timing and repercussions of Zawahiri’s death and its impact on Islamist extremist groups.اضافة اعلان

Ambassador Haitham Abu Al-Foul, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the killing of Al-Qaeda leader represents a stern message that there is no place for terrorism and terrorists.

The ministry stressed that terrorism is a common enemy, and that Jordan continues to work with its partners to combat terrorism and confront its dark organizations that target innocent people and destabilize security and stability. The ministry also underlined the importance of continuing the international community’s concerted efforts to eradicate terrorism from its roots.

Political experts interviewed by Jordan News said the assassination will have little impact on political events in the Middle East, and is unlikely to lessen the phenomenon of terrorism in the MENA region, or the world in general.

Expert on political Islam and former culture minister Mohammad Abu Rumman told Jordan News that “one of the reasons for the assassination at this particular time is US President Joe Biden’s need for political victories to influence the American voter and the results of the upcoming election.”

He added that “killing terrorist leaders is usually exploited during elections seasons.”

“I think there has been a penetration in Zawahiri’s security apparatus, knowing that there have been efforts and attempts to assassinate him for more than 20 years,” Abu Rumman said.

“I do not think that there will be direct reactions or escalation by Al-Qaeda, especially since it is in its weakest phase now,” he added.

Abu Rumman agreed with the assessment that the assassination of Zawahiri will not reduce terrorism in the world.

Political analyst and writer Omar Kullab said that “the assassination cannot be isolated from US elections, especially in view of the decline of Biden’s popularity.”

On the other hand, and in the context of US-Afghan relations, Kullab said that “Al-Qaeda had become a burden on the Taliban, which are seeking to improve their image, and so Zawahiri’s removal is not a bad thing for the Kabul regime”.

“I do not think that Al-Qaeda will regain its strength, especially since new versions of militant (extremists) have appeared. The question is not what comes after Al-Qaeda but what comes after Daesh” he stressed.

Hasan Abu Haniyeh, an expert on Islamist movements and a scholar in the field, told Jordan News that “Al-Qaeda has lost its power” indicating that he does not expect that “there will be any repercussions of the Zawahiri assassination on the Middle East, and limited repercussions on Central Asia and Southeast Asia.”

Like all those interviewed, he did not see a direct link between the assassination of Zawahiri and the decline in the phenomenon of terrorism in the near future.

“Terrorism has become decentralized; it now operates independently and far from its original leaders. It is not directly related to a center that manages its affairs,” Abu Haniyeh said.

Following up on the indicators of terrorism, one may notice that “they remain as they are or are on the increase, but in any case they will not be affected by the assassination of Zawahiri”, he said.

Following the killing of Zawahiri, the US State Department issued a “global warning” to American citizens, saying that supporters of Al-Qaeda or its terrorist organizations may seek to attack US facilities or citizens.

The assassination of Zawahiri is the biggest blow to Al-Qaeda since US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. It prompted Biden to declare that “justice has been served” for the families of the victims who were killed in the US on September 11, 2001.

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