As the news of bin Laden’s death sank in across the Arab world, anti-US demonstrations popped up in a few places, and at least one leader, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh, mourned the Al Qaeda leader as an “Arab holy warrior.”
But there was no mass outpouring of bin Laden sympathy in countries such as Egypt and Yemen, which are deeply involved in the sweeping regional effort for change known as the Arab Spring. The lack of Arab fury over bin Laden’s demise – and the continuing focus on change through peaceful protest – is a sure sign to some regional analysts that bin Laden’s appeal had long since faded. His death may have simply been the coup de grâce, they add.
Bin Laden’s death “comes at a time when Al Qaeda’s narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world,” says Martin Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab and honor and dignity,” he said in a conference call with reporters Monday. “But Osama bin Laden and his violence didn’t succeed in unseating anybody.”
The Al Qaeda narrative had already taken a “body blow” from the successful revolutions in Egypt – home to Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri – and Tunisia. Now “the killing of Osama bin Laden will put Al Qaeda in a leadership crisis, just as they were already in a narrative crisis,” he adds.