The past year has been a turbulent one for the Arab world. With major uprisings in the dictatorial states that dominate the area such as Libya, Bahrain and Syria the supposed “War on Terror” had been overshadowed. This was until Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in his compound in Pakistan. Now the future of the Middle east hangs in quite a delicate balance.
On the one hand radical Islamists have been exposed to a relatively passive method of political protest which, unlike their extremist tactics, has born significant fruit, especially in Libya. This has been reported to have turned many of the less devoted insurgents away from the radical jihad against the west leaving groups such as Al Qaeda weakened and possibly undermanned.
Then there is the execution of Bin Laden. If there was anything that could have weakened the radical muslim groups more then this was it. Without their legendary figurehead Al Qaeda look set to fade and disband into the democratic uprisings across the Arab world.
Is now the time to pull out of the Middle east? There is a plan to slowly pull out in the near future but it seems to me that it could be more beneficial to pull out this year and quickly establish fully independent democratic Iraqi and Afghani states. With democratic revolutions becoming more popular this could improve the west’s image in this part of the world by showing that they do have the best interests of the middle east at heart.
Without their legendary figurehead Al Qaeda look set to fade and disband into the democratic uprisings across the Arab world.
Pulling out does not make us look weak as we can point to the death of Bin Laden and justice for 9/11 as a victory. While the Middle East is distracted the UK and the US can step out almost silently and let the pro-democracy feeling sort out the region.
One possible problem that could be foreseen is that, by the West pulling out, Al Qaeda promotes the story that, in fact, they have beaten the foreign invaders and therefore draw more support for their ideals. This is why the withdrawal would require sound media coverage and dignified foreign policy in order to keep it clean.
Osama Bin Laden had been quoted in the past as saying “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is to great for Allah”. This gives weight to the theory that the extremist strategy is not for the West to pull out of the war on terror but for it to stay in a war of attrition until it’s economy collapses. While it seems Barack Obama is doing a good job of this for them, it is important that we start saving money now in order to fight the prevalent deficits in the developed world from the overspending of the previous recession.
Now seems to be the time, but does anyone have the guts to suggest it in a major political forum?