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The Telegraph: Osama bin Laden: death marks end of phase in war with Afghanistan

Author: Michael Semple, Former Deputy to the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan
May 2, 2011


Michael Semple, the Former Deputy to the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan, argues that the killing of Osama bin Laden in a house in Abbottabad Cantonment marks the end of phase one of the war in Afghanistan.

The post- bin Laden conflict may even move away from the issues of international terrorism and back to the challenge of Afghans finding a way to live together.

Afghan Taliban have long argued that Al Qaeda was irrelevant for them. But when I asked Taliban for their reactions to the news, their first comment was that this boded ill for the future of Mullah Omar or Seraj Haqani hiding out in Pakistan.

Basically they wondered, after Osama, who will be exposed and targeted next.

Afghan Taliban have further lowered their confidence in the safety of the “safe haven” that they supposedly enjoy in Pakistan. Of course, Bin Laden and his admirers have long glorified death and sacrifice.

For some of them the martyred Bin Laden will live on as a symbol of resistance and they will follow his successor. But wars are fought on more practical considerations.

Any notions that the Taliban have entertained of military victory are premised on the assumption that they can recruit, train, plan and organise in areas which are inaccessible to US forces.

Bin Laden's success in evading capture, helped encourage the idea of mujahideen victory over America – he periodically declared it inevitable.

The Taliban leaders in charge of the military campaign also operate “under-ground” in Pakistan and will now feel a renewed sense of vulnerability.

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