The Future Center for Research and Advanced Studies said that “the assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is the largest Washington-led military attack against the international organization since the assassination of its former leader and founder Osama bin Laden in May 2011. … adding that the attack on al-Zawahiri in Kabul presents a number of indications that can be supported.”
In an article titled “Indications of Washington’s Liquidation of Ayman al-Zawahiri,” the Future Center reviewed five indications of attacking al-Zawahiri, before three possible repercussions that may result from that liquidation followed, including the tension in the relationship. between Washington and the Taliban, strengthening Biden’s domestic legitimacy, and limited effects on al-Qaeda.
At the end of the article, the article stated that “Al-Zawahiri’s assassination, despite its limited repercussions on the organization and its movements, has a high symbolic value, in terms of Washington’s affirmation of its insistence on avenging those who cause the death of Americans, in addition to emphasizing the ability to access threat sources and defeat them without hesitation, it may also be an indication that the United States has ended the era of combating terrorism, and will enter a new era whose main pillar is the struggle with the great powers.
This is the text of the article:
On August 2, US President Joe Biden announced the assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a precise aerial operation that took place inside the Afghan capital, Kabul, on August 1, indicating that justice has been done after this terrorist no longer exists, because he caused the death of many Americans in several attacks. No statement has been issued to deny or confirm the Al-Qaeda incident so far. This operation is also the largest military attack directed by Washington against the international organization since the assassination of its former leader and founder Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
The implications of attacking Al-Zawahiri:
The attack on al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul presents a number of indications which can be found as follows:
1- Washington’s ability to carry out qualitative operations: The assassination of Al-Zawahiri was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, using an American MQ-9 Reaper drone carrying two Hellfire R9X missiles, it is equipped with six blades, extendable and can destroy its target by hitting it without an explosion as it contains a non-explosive warhead, which can be interpreted as a US desire to avoid civilian casualties or the destruction of the building al-Zawahiri lived in prior to his assassination in the neighborhood The diplomat in Kabul.
The assassination was preceded by a monitoring and surveillance operation carried out by US intelligence services to determine the identity of the safe house to which Al-Zawahiri moved in Kabul. operating in an unfavorable environment, especially after the Taliban movement took control of Afghanistan. Finally, on July 25, Biden gave his orders to conduct a “precision airstrike” against the al-Qaeda leader.
2- Confirmation of US commitments to fight terrorism: The chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in August 2021, after almost 20 years of military intervention, shook Washington’s image among allies and friends, under the argument that this withdrawal meant the return of the Taliban movement to power, at the same time, in which it still maintains strong ties with terrorist organizations.
Through this process, Washington seeks to confirm that, despite its withdrawal, it will not allow “Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorists”, as well as to confirm the credibility of President Biden’s promise, after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, to that Washington will maintain the ability to launch “over the horizon” strikes from far away against terrorist elements in Afghanistan, which led to this process.
3- Continuation of Haqqani’s relationship with al-Qaeda: The independent Afghan news agency, Amag News, indicated that two relatives of the Taliban’s Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, were killed during the operation against Ayman al-Zawahiri. He also indicated that the house in which the latter was found belonged to a senior assistant of Haqqani.
While it is difficult to verify this information, it is not surprising given that the Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban and one of its partners in the government of Afghanistan since the US withdrawal in August 2021, is known to have close ties to al-Qaeda, and it is not known if these were the network alone hosting al-Zawahiri, or did the Taliban themselves support their hosting?
4- Doubts about the cohesion of the Taliban: It is believed that American intelligence obtained the support of one of the collaborators in Afghanistan to find the whereabouts of Al-Zawahiri in Kabul Accepted by a member of the Taliban movement, who may have defected from the movement individually and cooperated with Washington in exchange for obtaining funds and smuggling them out of the country, or with the approval of the Taliban.
In the latter case, the Taliban may have struck a deal with Washington to get rid of Al-Zawahiri in order to gain international recognition and funds frozen abroad, which may herald divisions between the Taliban and Haqqani, but the latter possibility remains unlikely in light of Taliban adherence to hard-line approach and retention Maintains strong ties with al-Qaeda, especially as there are unconfirmed reports of al-Qaeda leaders returning to Afghanistan after that the Taliban took control.
5- Pressure on Iran: US officials indicated that Iran must choose between hosting one of the most prominent candidates to succeed al-Zawahiri, Muhammad Salah al-Din Zaidan, known as “Saif al-Adl”, who is the second man in al-Zawahiri. -Qaeda, and expel him.
It is noted that the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran has improved a lot lately, as al-Zawahiri handled the relationship with Tehran with an approach based on calm, stopping any escalation against him, given the presence of a large number of al – Al Qaeda leaders and their families in Iran, such as Saif al-Adl and Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the latter of whom was assassinated in Tehran. As of August 2020, Abu al-Khair al-Masri, who has moved to fight in Syria since 2012, and others.
The liquidation of Al-Zawahiri may result in a number of repercussions, the most prominent of which can be reviewed as follows:
1- The tense relationship between Washington and the Taliban: the announcement of the operation by President Biden did not refer to any coordination that had taken place with the Taliban movement around attacking Ayman al-Zawahiri, but rather that the Taliban spokesman , Zabihullah Mujahid, condemned the attack on a residential house in the Sherpur district of the capital, Kabul. Without declaring the assassination of the al-Qaeda leader, he pointed out that the security and intelligence services were investigating the incident, as a violation of Afghan sovereignty.
These positions were condemned by the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, who announced that the Taliban had “blatantly” violated the Doha Agreement by giving shelter to their Al Qaeda leader. With the al-Zawahiri family taking refuge in the most prestigious neighborhoods from the capital, Kabul. , which confirms the continuity of the relationship between the two parties.
But on the other hand, the Taliban’s options remain limited to respond to the United States, given that it has not yet recognized the liquidation of Al-Zawahiri, and also seeks international recognition, as well as financial and political support from the international community. . .
2- Strengthening of Biden’s internal legitimacy: this process can contribute to raising the balance of US President Joe Biden at home, especially since his image is experiencing a significant decline, as expressed by an opinion poll conducted by the “Associated Press -Nork Research Center”, which revealed that 39 percent of adults in America alone have approved of his performance as president, and his party could lose a majority in Congress during the November midterm elections.
This operation also came a week before the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, an anniversary that was used by the Republicans to abuse the Democratic administration, due to the method of their withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was carried out indiscriminately. Therefore, this process will help prevent this event and open the door for Biden to invest in Al-Zawahiri’s liquidation to improve his popularity domestically.
This operation also reveals the success of successive US administrations in completing their revenge against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, as most of the planners of this operation were either killed, like Osama bin Laden, or are detained in the Bay of Guantanamo, as the intellectual author of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed attacks. For this reason, Biden called on the families of the victims, when announcing the operation, to turn the page on their pain over the largest terrorist incident in the history of the United States, which may be an indication that the United States will turn the page. terrorism and engage in the great power struggles.
3- Limited Effects on Al-Qaeda: The US operation targeted the leader of Al-Qaeda, however, the impact of this operation will be limited on the structure of the organization, given that its strength has already diminished under the weight of American attacks. in the last two decades, so that sub-organizations associated with it have become more powerful, similar to al-Shabab in Somalia or al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahel.
On the other hand, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leadership and organizational skills seem modest compared to the organization’s former leader, Osama bin Laden, because al-Zawahiri was closer to the organization’s mufti than to the inspiring kinetic leader, and not evidence of the decline in the performance of al-Qaeda, under the leadership of al-Zawahiri, the announcement of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS, and Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, leader of Al-Nusra Front, the split and repudiation of the parent organization.
In conclusion, it can be said that the assassination of Al-Zawahiri, despite its limited repercussions on the organization and its movements, has a high symbolic value, in terms of Washington’s affirmation of its insistence on the “revenge” of those who cause the deaths. of the Americans, as well as emphasizing the ability to access threat sources and defeat them without hesitation, as it may be an indication that the United States has ended the era of combating terrorism, and will enter a new era whose main pillar it is the struggle with the great powers.