Ayman Al-Zawahiri Is Killed: What Does It Change
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Ayman al-Zawahiri was a leader of Al-Qaeda and a wanted man for over twenty years. A U.S drone killed him on July 31 2022, in Kabul, Afghanistan. He had been living with his family members in Afghanistan, back where he had plotted the September 11, 2001 attacks. U.S officials spent months tracking al-Zawahiri in Kabul, an effort that was also meant to confirm his identity and minimize attacks on civilians. Officials confirmed that no other people had been killed. The killing of al-Zawahiri marked a tremendous setback for the group since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. His killing signified Biden’s commitment to protecting the American people using as few military resources as possible and also indicated a tremendous shift in the nation’s foreign politics from terrorism to democracy and power.
Importance of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Death to the United States
The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri was strategically crucial for the United States, especially regarding the nation’s commitment to defend the American people and ensure justice is delivered to the families and friends of the victims of the 9/11 attack (Liptak et al., 2022). His killing indicated that the American people and the world did not have to fear those who were a threat to their security, as the United States would find them no matter how long the hunt took (Kugelman, 2022). The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri was also a show of the intelligence community’s persistence and skill (Blinken, 2022). Biden did not need thousands of troops on the ground to hunt and kill Ayman al-Zawahiri and protect the American people (Liptak et al., 2022). Al-Zawahiri was only tracked without his knowledge, making him feel secure and doing everything in plain sight (Hoffman, 2022). The strategy signified effective counterterrorism, characterized by skill, intelligence and minimal military resources.
Ayman al-Zawahiri: A Turning Point for United States’ Foreign Politics
Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death marked the final note of the war on terror in U.S foreign policy. The last three United States administrations have mainly focused on countering terrorism, which included a decade-long hunt for Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden (Beauchamp, 2022). The efforts would culminate in the 2011 raid on Osama’s compound in 2011 in Pakistan. The death of Ayman al-Zawahiri a decade later concluded the long quest for revenge, especially for Twin Towers (Liptak et al., 2022). The U.S global counterterrorism operations may not wholly end after the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri. However, terrorism will no longer be a priority for U.S foreign policy and international politics.
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The strategy adopted to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri signified a tremendous shift in U.S foreign politics from a full-fledged war on terror to negligible centering on terrorism. During President George Bush’s administration, terrorism was the central focus of America’s foreign politics (Beauchamp, 2022). All other foreign thinking revolved around terrorism. However, as time passed, the war on terrorism declined, as evidenced by the recent administrations, including Obama’s, Trump’s and Biden’s.
During Trump and Obama’s presidencies, the U.S foreign policy was mainly focused on accumulating power, especially regarding challenges posed by China and Russia. There was less concern for centering terrorism. Biden’s two most important initiatives, withdrawal from Afghanistan and aggressive response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, solidified the reorientation of America’s foreign policy and politics (Beauchamp, 2022). The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri was executed after the U.S withdrew from Afghanistan, but the officials managed to find and kill a top terrorist target with minimal military resources (Liptak et al., 2022). There was also no local partner government that could have helped identify the potential targets for the U.S drone strikes. That was an indication that the U.S does not need a military presence on the ground to fight terrorists.
The shift of attention from terrorism to the struggle between autocratic powers and democracy has been driven by the belief that al-Qaeda and ISIS’s powers to launch attacks are weaker than they were in 2001 and 2014. They are thus less of a priority for U.S foreign politics. Strategic competition with other nation-states such as China and Russia has become a significant concern. In 2021, Biden stated that terrorists were not the central challenge for the nation but a struggle between autocratic powers and democracy (Beauchamp, 2022). The war on terrorism failed in the form of disastrous long wars that killed thousands of innocent civilians. Terrorism is thus not a primary concern, and if the need arises, intelligent operations will be employed to minimize killing innocent civilians.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists and leader of the Al-Qaeda group, was killed on July 31, 2022. The U.S military officials tracked Ayman al-Zawahiri for months, ensuring that during the drone strike, no one was killed. The killing of the world’s renowned terrorist showed Biden’s commitment to delivering justice to the friends and families of the 9/11 attack and protecting the American people. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s killing also exhibited the intelligence and skills of the U.S military forces. His killing was also an indication of the shift in U.S foreign politics from terrorism to the struggle for power.
- Beauchamp, Z. (2022, August 2). Zawahiri’s death and the War on Terror’s end. Vox. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/23288550/zawahiri-death-biden-war-on-terror
- Blinken, A. J. (2022, August 2). The death of Ayman al-Zawahiri. United States Department of State. https://www.state.gov/the-death-of-ayman-al-zawahiri/
- Hoffman, B. (2022, August 2). What Zawahiri’s killing means for al-Qaeda. Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/what-zawahiris-killing-means-al-qaeda
- Kugelman, M. (2022, August 4). Zawahiri’s killing is a blow to the Taliban. Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/04/afghanistan-zawahiri-al-qaeda-taliban/
- Liptak, K., Atwood, K., Bertrand, N., Vazquez, M., & Donald Judd and Nick Paton Walsh. (2022, August 2). The U.S. kills al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Afghanistan. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/01/politics/joe-biden-counter-terrorism/index.html