On Monday evening, US President Joe Biden confirmed the killing of the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, Aiman al-Zawahiri. Justice was done with the deadly attack, Biden said. The most important questions and answers:
The killing was carried out with a drone strike in Afghanistan. Egyptian Al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden, who was thought to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. In US government circles it is said that the attack on 71-year-old Al-Zawahiri had been prepared for months. The killing of Al-Zawahiri over the weekend in downtown Kabul is the culmination of a 21-year manhunt for a man who, along with bin Laden, was responsible more than anyone else for the 2001 attacks and who continued to fight against the US. Al-Zawahiri also appeared in the video confessing to the 2005 London attacks. After the killing of bin Laden, the US put a $25 million bounty on Al-Zawahiri's head.
Al-Zawahiri was observed for a long time. A government official said two rockets hit him while he was standing on the balcony of a house in Kabul. The attack was only intended to be carried out if the risk to civilian casualties, including the Zawarri family, was low. Biden approved the strike after a series of briefings by national security officials.
"This operation was carefully planned to minimize the risk of injuring other civilians," the President said. According to the US government, there were no civilian casualties. Only Al-Sawahiri died in the attack. No US forces were in Kabul during the operation.
That's what it said again and again. But the fact that al-Zawahiri was killed in Kabul suggests that he felt safer in Afghanistan -- and that the Taliban regime was either unaware of his presence or didn't care. This circumstance also shows how easy it is to cross the border between the two countries. According to the US government, al Qaeda has been seeking shelter in both countries for decades.
You can see it like this. The political goals of the USA and many other Western countries, including Germany, have long since turned out to be unreal, even naïve. Now the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. The initially chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan almost exactly a year ago caused serious damage to the image of President Joe Biden's government.
Vladimir Putin took a close look at it. On the other hand: Biden, who had been campaigning for the withdrawal from Afghanistan for years, argued in the summer of 2021 that the USA would be able to take anti-terrorist measures in Afghanistan even without a ground presence.
Biden has now proven this. "It was a well-planned and well-executed operation," ex-CIA director Leon Panetta said on CNN.
This is a real success for the president, who is suffering from domestic political difficulties. In February, US soldiers carried out a raid in Syria in which the supreme leader of the Islamic State, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, killed himself and his family.
Biden appeared in front of the cameras on Monday evening at prime time on the balcony of the White House, behind him the Washington Monument in the evening sun. The President is in isolation due to a corona infection. He spoke for eight minutes, reading from the teleprompter, answering no questions. Biden did not wear a mask, unlike his staff at a distance.
"No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and eliminate you," the president said. For Biden, the successful kill is a gift ahead of November's congressional elections. In this way, he can dispel the impression spread by the Republicans that he is weak in foreign policy.
Hard to say. In any case, the blow helps Biden and the Democrats more than it harms them. The fight against terrorists, especially those responsible for September 11, 2001, meets with broad political approval among the people. As bad as Biden's approval ratings are, they have recently risen slightly, albeit at a modest level.
It might be a trend reversal. Hardly anyone had reckoned with the $433 billion investment package agreed last week, primarily for climate protection. The law is also intended to reduce drug prices, close tax loopholes and introduce a minimum tax for corporations.
The Senate's official vote is still pending, but is considered likely. Long recalcitrant, conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin asserted his interests and relented. Previously, Biden had pushed through legislation to boost the semiconductor industry, with some Republicans agreeing. Republicans, meanwhile, still don't know who they're going to vote with in 2024. The 2020 election loser, Donald Trump, is keeping that option open.
There are isolated concerns in the Republican Party that their hard-line conservative stance against abortion, and in some cases also against homosexual marriage, is not frightening too many voters. In the swing states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the Democratic senator candidates are currently leading in polls, sometimes well ahead of their Trump-related competitors.
Hard to say. The election will take place on November 8th. The hot phase of the election campaign begins in September. So far, it has looked like the Democrats are clearly losing their wafer-thin majority in the House of Representatives. There is evidence for a Republican landslide victory. In the Senate, where both parties have 50 seats each, a forecast is more difficult.
However, approval of Biden is so low that he needs a number of other successes so that his party does not suffer a total electoral defeat. Nine percent inflation is plaguing large sections of the population, especially the poor. The US is in a recession. You can't gain much even with few unemployed people and decent wage increases. History also teaches us that voters almost always give the presidential party a slap in the neck in elections in the middle of his four-year term.