7 May 2011
Now that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, what does the future hold for America's Af-Pak strategy? Al Jazeera's "Empire" hosts a fascinating discussion with Middle Eastern experts, including progressive analyst Tariq Ali. The discussion examines the future of Al Qaeda, while reflecting on the origins of the organization and the Jihadi ideology. In addition, it examines the foothold that the Taliban has in the region and unpacks possible scenarios to achieve peace and stability in the region.
An important fact that emerges in the discussion is that Al Qaeda is largely a crippled organization numbering 200 members, if that. However, the Jihadi ideology still prevails, much of it fueled by the fact that there are a number of unresolved issues in the Middle East, which include the fact that the US military still occupies Iraq and Afghanistan and that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.
All eyes now turn to Pakistan where Bin Laden was located and killed by the US. Given the uncertainly surrounding US-Pakistani collaboration regarding the operation to kill Bin Laden, America's relationship with its ally in the region can best be described as tenuous.
America's war in Afghanistan has now also reached a critical stage with Bin Laden out of the picture. While speaking in strong terms against terrorism America is in actual fact, according to Ali, talking to the Taliban behind the scenes to bring them to the negotiating table to join a coalition government. However, the Taliban have said that they will only consider the option if foreign troops leave Afghanistan first.
Ali calls for peace negotiations to be driven by countries from the region. These in his view should be Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan -- not the US and the NATO forces.