Deraa, not Abbottabad, is where the future is being shaped

The death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad has triggered a wave of speculation about what it may mean for the future of Al-Qaeda and international terrorism.

Leafing through the history of other terrorists movements, by far the most likely answer is “not much” for the death of one key individual rarely causes terrorist organisations or networks to collapse. Moreoever, in Al-Qaeda’s case it is a much more decentralised network than other groupings which survived the death of one or more key individuals.

More relevant are the continuing protests in Deraa and elsewhere in Syria. For the Syria government has been, alongside Iran, one of the major supporters of extremists and violence – in Iraq, in Lebanon and elsewhere.

Political change in Syria, if it happens, will be far more significant than the death of Bin Laden, even if it ends up taking as many years to come about.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • You are quite right. However, the UN will never tackle Syria as long as Russia (with their links via the Iranians) are on the Security council.

    Still NATO can bomb Libya possibly turning a (admittedly terrible) regime that had stopped backing terrorism back to to extremism. Law, even international law, must be consistantly applied to be be fair…..

  • toryboysnevergrowup 2nd May '11 - 12:54pm

    Perhaps the events are linked – and defeating one type of fascism is linked to the defeat of others.

  • Martin Land 2nd May '11 - 4:06pm

    You have a point, Mark – up to a point.

    Deraa is close to the Jordanian border, which is a regular transit point and more open to outside influences than many other parts of Syria.

    It also has a large Druze population in the region and the Assad family belong to the Alawite Sect. As usual in the Middle East this is not the simple struggle between Dictator and Democrats, but a struggle between different religious groups who do not have either a pro-western or a democratic agenda.

  • The situation in Syria is surely extremely worrying… the ethnic mix, the various foreign powers and their influence (not least Iran and Israel), the religious mix – potentially a lot worse than Lebanon was. And what then?

  • Yet again the trigger happy US has acted quite against international law by assasinating Bin Laden (shame on you Mr Liberal Health Reforming President). Of course America supported Bin Laden in the days when he was the good guy fighting Russia. Ben Laden and his organisation oppose America and its western allies for their hypocrisy (which we see again in Libya and the NATO attempt to kill Gadaffi). Bin Laden rightly accused America of bankrolling and arming to the teeth ultra reactionary, authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia and supporting Israel which itself some people accuse of being a terrorist and racist (ie Zionist) state (I actually don’t go along with that but do accuse Israel of malevalence against the Palestianians with their wretched and inhumane wall and suppression of the Palestian people).
    But of course as we know it is America that has been for years responsible for overthrowing democratic regimes the world over and installing their puppets with the compliance of states like Britain & (has to be said not always) France & Italy too. It is America ironically who create these so called terrorists like Bin Laden and however obnoxious & cruel Bin Laden was and his organisation and similar terrorist groups are – we in the West need to look to ourselves first.

    Yes he was probably a mass murderer and should have been brought to trial for murders of the innocent people in the Twin Towers in 9/11 just going about their everyday business – and if found guilty he should have stayed forever in jail but not brutally killed – that’s his idea of justice it shouldnt be ours.

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