The anniversary of the Sept. 11 was marked on Tuesday with great analyses and perceptions. In the last few days, I’ve listened to many ideas arguing that Arab revolutions would participate in the decline of al-Qaeda. It seems that such ideas are exaggerated even if they are proposing the fading of al-Qaeda and not its eradication. The organization has taken advantage of the loopholes resulting from the revolutions, especially with the lack of security. If we only take Yemen as an example, we find that al-Qaeda has gained more power in Yemen and tightened its fist on numerous cities and districts! Al-Qaeda did not peg out; it has rather come to life again.
Al-Qaeda’s danger in the Gulf comes from its influence in Yemen -- the Gulf’s geographical extension. This vast land that witnessed serious turmoil while al-Qaeda had been politically used to create the due political balances in Yemen, which guarantees the survival of the regime in power!
With the eruption of the Arab revolutions, there was a widespread analysis arguing that the youthful spring has put an end to al-Qaeda’s value and influence because young people became capable of imposing change by demonstrating in squares, thus, toppling regimes. And because the young people’s demands were civil demands related to poverty, unemployment and social justice, al-Qaeda’s presence is no longer justified because its demands are minimized by the accomplishments of the revolution. This analysis has put al-Qaeda in an awkward position which has pushed Ayman al-Zawahiri to support and engage in the revolution’s tide. Al-Qaeda was in a critical position in the face of revolutions, however, its embarrassment did not last long since the organization has overcame the shock and returned to the scene in a bid to fill the security vacuum by its strong financial presence in Mali, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. It has probably even reached Syria, or is about to.
Al-Qaeda is an organization that does not die. It proliferates by nature just like parasites. Its members keep multiplying despite the death of their major parts!
The 9/11 anniversary is not an occasion to announce the death of al-Qaeda, but rather an occasion to study this phenomenon from an intellectual and organizational point of view and find ways to fight it.
In the last line we can say that the 9/11 anniversary reminds us that eradicating al-Qaeda would not succeed by military confrontation alone. It needs huge intellectual efforts from intellectuals and activists. Al-Qaeda’s ideas were not sufficiently attacked although the organization emerged more than a decade ago.
It is really strange to see academics and judges joining al-Qaeda’s leadership while we were thinking that religion and reason would have made them its strongest enemies!
(The writer is the Presenter of Al Arabiya's Eda'at program. This article was published in the Saudi-based al-Riyadh on Sept. 13, 2012)