Middle East politicians, journalists react to Al-Zawahiri's assassination
While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain all released statements welcoming US President Joe Biden’s announcement that Al-Zawahiri had died in a drone strike in Afghanistan, other states have kept quiet on the matter.
The militant leader was killed in a missile fired from a drone while he stood on a balcony at his Kabul hideout on Sunday, US officials said.
It is considered to be the biggest blow to Al-Qaeda since Osama bin Laden was shot dead more than a decade ago.
Anwar Gargash, a political advisor to the President of the United Arab Emirates, described Al-Zawahiri’s killing as an opportunity.
الإعلان عن مقتل زعيم القاعدة أيمن الظواهري بالتزامن مع ذكري غزو الكويت في الثاني من أغسطس فرصة للمنطقة للتأمل والتفكير في عبثية التطرف والإرهاب والمغامرات العسكرية المتهورة وكيف مزق كل ذلك نسيجها،الدروس والعبر حاضرة والأمل معقود على دول المنطقة معاً لضمان الأمن والتنمية المشتركة— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) August 2, 2022
"The announcement of the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, coinciding with the anniversary of the [Iraqi] invasion of Kuwait on August 2, is an opportunity for the region to contemplate and reflect on the absurdity of extremism, terrorism, and reckless military adventures and how all of this has torn its fabric," Gargash tweeted.
Saudi writer Fahd Deebaji took a conspiratorial line, saying the US no longer had interests with Al-Zawahiri and decided to get rid of him, adding that Washington has turned the page "to open another page as usual."
Pro-Iranian British-Palestinian editor Abdel Bari Atwan said Al-Zawahiri’s killing meant an end for Al-Qaeda as we know it.
اذا صح خبر اغتيال ايمن الظواهرى في غارة امريكية بافغانستان فان الصف الاول المؤسس للقاعدة ربما انتهى ومعه التنظيم بنسخته الاصلية وهذا الاغتيال لن يرفع شعبية بايدن لان الرجل لم يكن فاعلا ولا نستبعد قيادة يمنية شابة تتولى القيادة واكثر تشددا تعيد بناء التنظيم والله اعلم— عبد الباري عطوان (@abdelbariatwan) August 1, 2022
"This assassination will not raise Biden's popularity, because [Al-Zawahiri] was not even relevant," Atwan wrote on Twitter, adding that the militant group’s leadership could possibly go to a young Yemeni man who he believed could be firmer in reorganising Al-Qaeda.
British journalist Mehdi Hassan who focuses largely on Middle East and Asia affairs, said he was totally apathetic to Al-Zawahiri’s killing.
I am a long-standing critic of U.S. drone strikes.— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) August 1, 2022
Having said that, Ayman al Zawahiri is an anti-Christian, antisemitic, anti-Shia mass murderer. If he’s been killed, I won’t be shedding any tears for him & nor will most Muslims. So much blood on his hands, Muslim & non-Muslim.
Idrees Ahmad, a journalist and lecturer focused particularly on Syrian affairs, drew attention to the victims of the US-led war on terror as well as Al-Qaeda's victims.
"Zawahiri brought much grief to Afghanistan and other countries so his death will not be mourned by any. It's worth remembering however that in its pursuit of vengeance, the US killed and maimed many who were themselves victims of terror," he wrote on Twitter.