A former top U.S. official for Africa said the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden provides “a great psychological boost” to the United States and will likely enhance President Obama’s standing on the domestic front. However, said former U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen, the effect on U.S. foreign policy will be minimal.
Cohen said despite Osama bin Laden’s death, al-Qaida will likely remain active in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. This, he said, necessitates continued U.S. cooperation with countries in the region.
“For example, you have al-Qaida in the Sahelian countries, in the Maghreb, in Somalia and in Yemen. We still need the cooperation of those countries,” he said.
Human Rights, Governance
Some say bin Laden’s death may result in fewer terrorist acts inspired by al-Qaida. Would such a scenario potentially shift the emphasis in U.S. foreign policy to human rights and governance issues? Not so, said Cohen.
“Human rights and governance have always been very important in our policy," he said. "So I don’t think it will necessarily change as a result of this.”
He says the important thing is that countries that support terrorism should now realize that “supporting terrorism is not a good idea and that they will get caught.”
The former assistant secretary of state said the United States is sending a clear message with the death of the al-Qaida leader.
“We will not rest until we get justice for people who have committed atrocities against our people. They will always be caught - even if it takes 10, 20 years,” he said.