In one of its first drone attacks in several years, a high caliber target, Ayman al Zawahiri, the man who took over Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden, has bolstered the US with President Joe Biden...
In one of its first drone attacks in several years, a high caliber target, Ayman al Zawahiri, the man who took over Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden, has bolstered the US with President Joe Biden saying that the attack showed they never ‘backed down’. Zawahiri was a crucial target as far as Al Qaeda is concerned, given that he was believed at least by the US to be the mastermind behind many attacks and one of the planners of the 9/11 attacks.
There is now the question of the impact this drone strike will have on the region. The Taliban have condemned the drone attack and called it a “clear violation” of the Doha Agreement by the US authorities. On the other hand, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused the Taliban of “hosting and sheltering” Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan and “grossly” violating the Doha Agreement. The Taliban have also invoked international principles and said that such actions are “against the interests of the US, Afghanistan and the region”. For a very long time American drone attacks have also led to greater militancy arriving in the region. The US says no other casualties occurred in the attack which killed Zawahiri. But the number of casualties is yet to be determined.
The other issue that comes up is whether it means that Taliban in Afghanistan are once again protecting Al-Qaeda leaders as they had done during their previous tenure in power before 2001. If this is the case, can we then expect a more persistent policy of US attacks on Afghanistan? And does the US intend to engage in the ‘War on terror’ in Afghainstan post-withdrawal from the skies. For the moment, we do not know if other Al-Qaeda targets have been located in Afghanistan and how the US will respond if they are found, or if the policy of drone attacks will be expanded in some way. It is unfortunate that a country that is battling poverty, drought, famine and many other issues, is under a regime that may have been ‘hosting’ a wanted terrorist on its soil when it needs the international community on its side so that some relief can be given to its beleaguered people. Terrorism is a global threat but the presence of Al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan is also a threat to the region. Pakistan will need to be ever more vigilant.