What matters to the Muslim world today? The death of an old man in a Pakistani compound? Or the stirrings of Arab revolutions against the wishes of Western forces far keener to maintain the status-quo of dictatorships?
Robert Fisk, a journalist who has met Bin Laden on a number of occasions, said yesterday that Bin Laden’s assassination showed both the failure of al-Qaeda’s extremism yet also highlighted an America that almost reveled in demonising Muslims, invading Muslim nations and killing Muslims in the last decade. That’s a pretty mixed legacy. Here’s Fisk:
“I’ve been saying for some time that I think whether he’s dead or not is pretty irrelevent,” says the Middle East correspondent for British newspaper The Independent.
“As far as he’s concerned he founded Al Qaeda and that was in his eyes his achievement.”
The award winning journalist says Osama Bin Laden was not in a position to actually direct Al Qaeda’s operations.
“He didn’t sit in a cave with computer knobs saying press button b, it’s operation 52,” says Robert Fisk.
Fisk, who most recently has been reporting on events in Syria, says the world has changed in more ways than one since 9-11.
“Over the last few months you’ve seen an Arab awakening in which millions of Arab muslims have overthown their own leaderships,” he says.
“Bin Laden always wanted to get rid of Mubarek and Ben Ali and Gaddafi and so on claiming that they were all infidels working for America and in fact it was millions of ordinary people who peacefully, more or less – certainly in the case of Tunisia and Egypt – got rid of them.”
“Bin Laden didn’t, he failed to do that.”
“You’ve got to remember these regimes have always been telling the Americans ‘keep on supporting us because if you don’t Al Qaeda will take over’ – and in fact Al Qaeda did not take over.”
It was interesting that after the Egyptian overthrow of Mubarek the first thing we heard from Al Qaeda a week later was a call for the overthrow of Mubarek, one week after he’d gone, it was pathetic.”
He says the celebrations in the United States over Bin Laden’s death are meaningless.
“I think [Osama Bin Laden] lost his relevancy a long time ago actually,”
“If they’d have killed Bin Laden a year or two after 9/11 some of the breast beating that’s going on in the United States… might have been relevant.
“All this fists in the air of victory by the United States – it’s good pictures but I don’t think it means anything,” he says.
“The fact of the matter is that what we have in the moment in the world, what is important is a mass uprising and awakening by millions of muslim Arabs to get rid of dictators.”
Robert Fisk says these uprisings are ‘much, much more important than a middle aged man being killed in Pakistan’.