x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

United States suffered most in 9/11 decade

The United States and the Muslim world have both suffered in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, argues one Arabic language editorialist. Other topics in today's roundup: Al Qaeda and the Arab Spring, and terrorism's hollow promise.

Whether you are drawn to conspiracy theories alleging that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were an inside job, or whether you see common sense in the official story of coordinated attacks carried out by Al Qaeda, the fact remains that the United States has been the biggest loser in the post-September 11 decade, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor in chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi.

The "New York and Washington conquests", as Al Qaeda likes to refer to them, dragged the US into two messy wars - Afghanistan and Iraq - leaving the country's charisma severely dented, its treasury busted, about 5,000 of its soldiers dead and many more wounded.

The global downturn itself is one of the repercussions of the disproportionate US response to September 11. "It is no coincidence that the West's economic deficit, which is estimated at $3 trillion, corresponds to the US and European bills in Iraq and Afghanistan," the editor said.

The Muslim world paid just as dearly in the aftermath of September 11. Iraq, for one, has been destroyed, with close to one million of its citizens killed, he noted.

But here is the bottom line: so long as US and western politicians keep trivialising Arabs and Muslims and offering unconditional support to Israel, violence and terror will remain a feature of our times, the editor concluded.

Arab Spring has made Al Qaeda irrelevant

Those Tunisians who toppled the regime of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali were not holding pictures of Osama bin Laden or chanting pro-Al Qaeda slogans, noted Ghassan Charbel, the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

In a front-page column commemorating the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the editor said there was no reference to bin Laden during protests in Egypt, Yemen, Syria or Libya.

"Arab Spring protesters never said their foremost concern was to fight America, which bin Laden often described as 'the serpent's head'," the editor said.

"In fact, one could see that Al Qaeda's rhetoric, which may have impressed some youngsters once, had lost its lustre when people started hitting the streets to voice their anger, dreams and hopes. One might even argue that these people were demanding the opposite of what Al Qaeda stood for."

Ten years on, the September 11 attacks have failed to build a firewall between the Muslim world and the West. Al Qaeda may have succeeded in creating instability and luring the US into Afghanistan, the country from which no invading power can emerge the victor. But it didn't succeed in becoming the representative of the Arab or Muslim people.

"The Arab Spring denied Al Qaeda the right to speak on behalf of other people."

9/11 attacks signalled ebb of American might

During his speech before Congress last Thursday, US President Barack Obama avoided linking the current US economic crisis to September 11, 2001 attacks, said Satea Noureddin, a columnist with the Lebanese daily Assafir.

"Little from that day remains in the Americans' memory today; some humanitarian memories, some heroic accounts coupled with a comprehensive security mobilisation in fear of another attack that would divert attention away from one of the most ruinous economic crises the US has ever had to deal with."

In a speech that was featured in publications around the world on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the US president reaffirmed the need for a worldwide effort to counter terrorism, adding that his country was able to drive Al Qaeda onto the road to defeat.

"But the word 'defeat' is ill-placed here. The fact is it applies to the US just as much as it applies to Al Qaeda, which has yet to declare its responsibility for the difficult future that awaits the US and evokes images of the collapsed Soviet Union," the writer opined.

Between the US and Al Qaeda, defeat is mutual.

September 11 was a day that brought down both the US and Al Qaeda, but it made way for the Arab Spring that could put an end to a dark American era in the history of Arabs.

Terrorism is rooted in Muslim communities

At a time when people the world over come together to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the most notorious terrorist attack in modern history, the first Muslim woman accused of terrorism prepares to stand trial in Saudi Arabia, wrote the columnist Abdelrahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab Asharq Al Awsat daily.

Dozens of states are busy hunting down Al Qaeda, as ten years on, it has managed to sprout everywhere.

"Heila Al Qassira, a woman in her forties, is accused of affiliation to Al Qaeda and abetting fugitives as well as recruiting young people to do the organisation's dirty work. She financed terrorist operations and was arrested in possession of weapons, since she had plans to leave Saudi and join the Jihad."

Her story reflects the depth of the problem that hit the Islamic communities.

For extremism to go as far as recruiting a middle-aged Saudi woman into the ranks of Al Qaeda shows just how deeply rooted the terrorist organisation is in Islamic communities and the colossal effort required to eradicate it.

The US wasn't Al Qaeda's first target; it had targeted Egypt and Saudi before. But in the US, Al Qaeda found a target that could rally people in the Islamic world around it.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk