What Osama's Really Saying
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"On November 29, a new missive from Osama bin Laden was released to the world. The message came first to the news outlet al Jeezera, where most of his messages have been passed, and at the time of writing, it has not been confirmed by the intelligence community that it is in fact Bin Laden. Assuming it is, however, the message bears some very real implications for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. In the message, among other things, bin Laden said that Europe would do well to withdraw from Afghanistan as 'the American tide is receding.' Afghanistan and other nations reacted quickly, saying that the mission in Afghanistan was a united one between the government of Afghanistan and international forces, and that a withdrawal of foreign forces was not an option and that security in that country was 'an international responsibility.' President Karzai went further and called the idea of a European withdrawal 'ridiculous.' As Iraq (relatively) stabilizes, however, and even the staunchest of allies such as Australia pull out of that country, troop commitments in Afghanistan will be subjects of debate in a number of European capitals. Furthermore, as security deteriorates in Afghanistan, many at home and abroad are increasingly viewing the situation there as a quagmire. Bin Laden's words have no bearing among the international forces, but it does show that he has a certain understanding of the international politics at play in Afghanistan, and is desperate to exploit divisions among the allies."
This article was published in Culture and Conflict Review (January 2008), v.1 no.2
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