Editor's Note: Elliott Abrams is former senior director for the Near East and deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs in the George W. Bush administration. He is now a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
By Elliott Abrams – Special to CNN
The timing of Osama bin Laden’s death is perfect, coming during the Arab Spring. Al Qaeda’s message that violence, terrorism and extremism are the only answer for Arabs seeking dignity and hope is being rejected each day in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and throughout the Arab lands.
Al Qaeda and its view of the world are being pushed aside in favor of demands for new governments, free elections, freedom of speech and assembly and an end to corruption. Bin Laden’s death weakens Al Qaeda and Salafi movements further by taking away their most powerful symbol.
It is logical to expect that Al Qaeda will try to respond with new operations to prove that they are still alive. Indeed, they may be able to launch operations for bin Laden himself was no longer much involved with operational planning. But that says little about the overall future health and influence of the organization.
Hamas has already spoken out to mourn bin Laden’ death - a useful reminder to us all of what Hamas believes and wishes for Palestinians. It will be interesting to see how other groups react and what they say, but the Hamas statement will reverberate in the United States. A Palestinian government that contains a group mourning and celebrating this murderer will not appear to most Americans to be a possible peace partner for Israel.
Al Qaeda has been losing influence in the face of the Arab Revolts of 2011, and bin Laden’s death may come to symbolize that the organization is growing weaker. That is why the timing is so important.