World leaders have praised US President Barack Obama following Osama Bin Laden’s death. The Allies say they are sticking to their withdrawal plans for Afghanistan but Norway could have already started, an international expert says.
The waiting game
Essam al-Erian, a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, alleges Bin Laden’s killing opens for an early withdrawal by US troops from Afghanistan, saying, “one of the reasons for which violence has been practiced in the world has been removed.”
“It is time for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end the occupation of U.S. and Western forces around the world that have for so long harmed Muslim countries,” Reuters reports.
Norway has already announced it will officially be withdrawing by 2014 but Helge Lurås, advisor at the Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), tells The Foreigner he thinks it will be a more robust drawdown.
“It’s pretty apparent that the Norwegian government has already started its preparations for this. It has changed tactics, placing its units closer to camps in a less offensive position. It has also swapped roles with the Latvian Army, which has taken over the manoeuvre elements, whilst Norway’s Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLT) have more of a supporting role.
“However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) and the Ministry of Defence are very aware of the Americans’ pace of withdrawal. Norway will not want to stay put in Afghanistan if the US starts to pull out,” he continues.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced Britain will still not be taking its approximately 9,500 troops out of the country in 2015.
“It [Bin Laden’s death] is clearly a helpful development, I don't think it will necessarily change any timetables, but we should use it as an opportunity to say to the Taliban, now is the moment to separate yourself from al Qaeda, to give up violence, to accept the basic tenets of the Afghan constitution,” he says.
“They could commit attacks out of desperation”
Following news of the US attack, Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, told reporters, “Whilst al Qaeda has been hurt today, al Qaeda is not finished. Our war against terrorism must continue, [and] we will continue the mission in Afghanistan.”
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg expressed his “content” at Bin Laden’s death, also talking of an “a common responsibility to continuing combating international terrorism,” warning of the dangers of complacency.
Essam al-Erian believes the threat of terrorist reprisals in the wake of Bin Laden’s death remains.
“Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Algeria might react violently as the influence of al Qaeda is pervasive there.”
Helge Lurås says, “What worries me is that North African regimes such as Saudi Arabia could pledge their support to al Qaida, or carry commit attacks out of desperation, blaming the organisation for them.”
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