Sunday, 11 September 2016

'More than just a war': What's changed since 9/11?

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The attacks that led to an entirely new dimension and orientation to the 21st-century war. A lot has changed since the attacks and a lot has surfaced like never before. With politics and geopolitics at play, there is a broader horizon to what has actually happened in the last 15 years and how the attacks shaped up international relations and world affairs.

Image credit - Google
The war in this era is more sophisticated, wider and more dangerous. As the face and the range of the war have changed, so is the necessity to deal with it. The euphoria with which the American and allied forces invaded Afghanistan and Iraq have given way to unimaginable consequences.The war of this current time has to be tackled not just to overthrow a regime or a government or a dictator. It asks more than that. It asks about wartime after a regime is toppled. It asks about satisfying all factions that are an indispensable part of the affected region. It asks about the way in which such factions and parties approach each other, the way they approach the invading forces and the way they all see the geopolitical and real-political future. 

A war of this age calls not only for dealing with an issue in the face of it but it more precisely demands to look under the sheet and propose a broader solution. And this has been prominently seen after the US boots have made their way back home from Afghanistan and Iraq in full or partial manner. The post 9/11 invasion and counter-terrorism programs have led to major political vacuum-houses. Countries after the invasion have been turned into barren lands both geographically and politically.

Setting the priorities on the immediate traitors and going for the first things first, the American and the allied forces targeted al-Qaeda. The finish of the Jihadi preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, founder of Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) Abu Musab al-Zarwaqi have helped the war in its current phase but have done little to create a long-term effect.

Image credit - Google
The drone strikes employed by the Obama administration have helped a lot in the counter-terrorism efforts but often, the drone program has been criticised for its 'push-button-and-kill' approach. The civilians targeted by the drone strikes and their death ratio cannot be ignored. There is also a notion that drone war is not an ethical war in terms of on-ground war strategies. The drone operators have no idea of how an actual war goes and their perception has been limited to a video game war which has been publicly emphasized by their television interviews. The entire drone program is a major debatable topic. More on it soon. 

The US administration, with these drones, eliminated a senior leader of Khorasan ring of al-Qaeda; Muhsin al-Fadhli. The Pentagon offered a press statement in which it said that it was unaware that al-Fadhli was traveling in that car and the car was droned accidentally. Failure to capture al-Fadhli alive has cost us a lot. He was one of the few members of al-Qaeda who knew about 9/11 well beforehand. And with given his age of 21 years during 9/11 attacks and his designation of being a senior member of the Khorasan ring tells us a lot about his importance to al-Qaeda.

Image credit - Google
The elimination of al-Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden was anticipated to cause a ripple effect and demoralize the group. Instead, it has turned the tables. Of course, his elimination and a regular drone strike and drone watch have put the entire group on backfoot, but the clout and the might that al-Qaeda carries remains steady.

The elimination of Nasser al-Wuhayishi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has accelerated the counter-terrorism activities but the presence of Ayman al-Zawahiri as the new al-Qaeda chief and his commitment in the al-Qaeda central leadership has turned this game into a tough one. He is still at large and is one of the founding fathers and the brain behind the corporate al-Qaeda which worries the experts. Considering his age and his seniority, he hardly makes it to the public news. But his mere ideological and strategical presence in the on-going Syrian crisis is enough to send shivers down the spine.

Image credit - Google
Taking it to the bottom-line, al-Qaeda is more than Bin Laden, al-Fadhli, al-Wuhayishi and al-Zawahiri. If it needs to be defeated, it has to be dealt in a different manner both ideologically and strategically. It is more than just a war. It is more towards defining a long-term foreign policy of Middle-East and the entire world. And in the times when disruption is more relevant and prominent than any of the alliance in international relations, the post 9/11 war era demands a totally different play-level.

                                                                                                                            - Vazir

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