The US government has announced a successful military assault on a large mansion in Abbottabad, near Islamabad, which has resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Significantly, the complex where the killings took place was very close to the Pakistani Military Academy in an extremely wealthy area largely populated by retired military officers. This points to the fact that sections of the Pakistani state machine around the secret services, ISI, and especially retired military officers have colluded with Al-Qa’ida and Bin Laden and the Taliban.
This operation represents a further development in US imperialism’s foreign policy of targeted assassinations of its opponents. This strategy is enthusiastically backed by the former commander of US troops in Afghanistan and current CIA chief, General Patreus, dubbed a policy of “hot pursuit”. It follows recent attempts to assassinate Gaddaffi in Libya. They imagine that by the removal of one man they will resolve the problem.
While Bin Laden opposed both Mubarak and Ben Ali in Egypt and Tunisia the mass uprisings in those countries have clearly demonstrated that it is mass movement and not the methods of terrorism which show a way forward. The use of terrorist methods arise from a defeat rather than show a way forward to struggle against brutal regimes or imperialism.
Marxists and socialists lend no support to Bin Laden or Al-Qa’ida, either ideologically or the vicious terrorist methods they have used. Yet US imperialism in confronting a struggle against a Frankenstein monster which it created itself particularly through its support for such forces in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Later Bin Laden and other forces were boosted by imperialism’s support for rotten corrupt regimes in some Muslim countries.
Bin Laden employed the use of terrorist methods, including mass terrorist methods which caused devastating slaughter and misery for ordinary working people. Yet US imperialism and other imperialist powers by employing these methods are also pursuing a policy of state terror and are adopting a policy which is a mirror image of what they denounce Bin Laden for. The use of the lethal drones in Afghanistan and other places has caused the slaughter innocent civilians. These events show an endless cycle of violence and slaughter in which it is the ordinary working people and poor who pay the price.
US imperialism has attempted a policy of assassination in the past. Such methods were used against Castro in Cuba following the revolution. Now however, it is being increasingly justified by US imperialism as it faces a relative decline as a world power although it still remains the most powerful imperialist country. While US imperialism’s propaganda machine will attempt to portray such killings as an indication of success and a demonstration of the power of US imperialism in reality such a policy is a reflection of the weakening of the power of US imperialism. It is reduced to “quick fix” solutions to remove “rouge” leaders or opponents but is unable to resolve the underlying crisis which exist.
Obama and US imperialism have undertaken this operation in the wake of the revolutionary movements which have swept the Arab world in an attempt to reassert its influence and demonstrate its power. In the USA itself this will undoubtedly be used to strengthen Obama and divert attention away from the deepening social, economic and political crisis which exist.
The Pakistani government has claimed that it was not involved in the military operation militarily but stated that it shared intelligence and information with the US. But it is clear that sections of the military and ISI have financed and colluded with Bin Laden and the Taliban.
Rather than strengthen US imperialism in Pakistan and the neo-colonial world, in many countries, including Pakistan, it is likely to increase anti-US sentiment there and in some of the Muslim world. In particular it will strengthen opposition to the war in Afghanistan which was justified on the basis of capturing Bin Laden. The Indian government has also used this attack to try a gain some advantage for itself arguing that it shows that Pakistan is offering safe haven to terrorist forces and urging further such operations be carried out.
At the same time it is unlikely that the killing of Bin Laden will give a boost to Al-Qa’ida forces in Pakistan. This has sharply declined in recent years. Following the attacks on 9/11 Bin Laden had 40-50% approval ratings in Pakistan. However, the attacks by his forces and those of the Taliban in the urban areas and indiscriminate killings of ordinary people in bombings and shooting has led to a sharp decline. Bin Laden’s and Taliban approval ratings have fallen to 4-5% in recent polls. However, it cannot be excluded that some Al-Qa’ida forces may get a certain boost from this operation in some countries.
Many in Pakistan, including the Taliban and Al-Qa’ida at this stage are refusing to accept that Bin Laden has been killed. If confirmed it will result in a shock effect on their forces for a period.
The killing of Bin Laden will represent an important symbolic set back for its forces although it is unlikely to affect the military effectiveness of it’s forces. It is likely to result in a shock in the short term but they will undoubtedly attempt an attack at some stage.
The killing of Bin Laden will be used domestically in the US and internationally as a propaganda weapon it will not resolve any of the underlying social conditions which have resulted in the emergence of forces such as Al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. In Pakistan and parts of the Muslim world it will further undermine the position of US imperialism. The continuation of imperialist domination and of landlordism and capitalism will result in organisations like Al-Qa’ida continuing to exist as a Frankenstein’s monster for imperialism. The horrors that capitalism and the reactionary forces of Al-Qa’ida and the Taliban mean for the mass of the population can only be ended by the working class and poor struggling for a socialist alternative and the only solution to the carnage which has developed.
Tony Saunois, CWI
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