Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

We should have let Osama live

Posted in Op ed on May 3rd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Osama bin Laden

Another wrong call

‘End of the Jihadist Dream’ runs one New York Times editorial.  In fact the Jihadist dream was almost dead; we may have just shocked it back into a brief, fitful life.

Bin Laden was increasingly irrelevant to the Arab world.  The Arab Spring, the Arab Revolt–whatever we want to call it–is a sea change in the way an entire nation (Nasser’s Arab nation) sees itself: for the first time in how many life times, Arabs are taking responsibility for their own governance.  And, for the most part, non-violently!  Jihad and Bin Laden are not even on the Arab radar.  Who could have foreseen such an evolution?  Certainly not the US State Department or the US Administration, packed as both are with Dennis Ross-style ‘experts’: civil servants and consultants who for twenty years have published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and advised administration after administration . . . with not one significant success to show for it.

What should we have done?

We should have marginalized Bin Laden even further.  This is how:

Let him live–but appropriate the neighborhood

We should have made his neighborhood American soil.  Twentyfour hour webcams set in concrete and placed all around and peering down into his compound would have beamed real-time pictures up to YouTube and dedicated English and Arabic websites. He and his family would have wanted for nothing, but everything and everybody would have gone through an American airport-style scanning process, going in and going out.  Instead of patting down elderly ladies from Wisconsin, we would have patted down Bin Laden’s family and relatives.  We would have made him increasingly visible–and increasingly ignored.  We would have discussed his long-term prospects with the Pakistani government in very long-term discussions . . . while immediately reexamining our multi-billion dollar yearly aid to the Pakistani military.

Encourage Arab democracy movements

We should right now kick Saudi forces out of Bahrain and pressure the Bahraini government to enter into serious discussions with the opposition to transform the country into a democratic, constitutional monarchy.  We need to promote development within Saudi–every kind of development–and that means being vocal and unpopular.  No doubt we’ll lose some defense contracts.  It’s a small price to pay.  At the same time we should enter into direct talks with Hamas in Gaza, as part of a Hamas/Fatah Palestinian unity government.  We should do what is necessary to forge peace in Israel and Palestine.  The short-term domestic political hysteria in the US will quickly subside.  It will be difficult to argue with peace.  With success. 

It’s too late to follow the first prescription.  We’ve turned a loser into a martyr.  Another failure of American leadership.  But it’s not too late to redeem our error.  It’s not too late to promote freedom and democracy in the Arab world–an Arab world eager to take responsibility for their own democratic governance.

There’s still time to redeem America’s increasing irrelevance in the Middle East.


In-depth analysis by Abdulghani al-Iryani

Posted in Yemen on March 26th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

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For text, read: Yemen as ‘Chaos by design’