Reflections on the 11th Anniversary of 9/11

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    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Middle East In Focus

Eleven years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the debate still continues about the significance of the attacks for the United States and the rest of the world. It is not surprising, then, that as editorials and opinion pieces pour in, there are vast differences in the perceptions of the 9/11 attacks, especially regarding the aftermath. What is perhaps less surprising, however, is that fact that so many observers are mostly concerned with the implications of post-9/11 U.S. policy and international relations dynamics for their own countries rather than the human toll that the terror attacks took on that clear September day.

If there is one thing most regional observers agree on, it is that the United States must now move on, albeit as Azzaman’s Fatih Abdulsalam argues, without ignoring the new political realities: “[T]he question is for how long will the U.S. be occupied with this anniversary? Is it in Americans’ interest to keep this anniversary forever as the most important moment in their lives and history?…The events of the past 11 years have demonstrated that it is in the U.S. interest to be less occupied with September 11 despite its impact and influence. The destiny of nations should not evolve on certain dates. Life goes on. What is important for America is not to forget the realities that have emerged as a result of its persistence to keep this anniversary alive.”

In a mixed review of U.S. policy in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Khaleej Times editorial points out that “Ironically, the relevance of the 9/11 is an eerie — and rather depressing — reminder of how little has changed in the world, even after two wars, thousands of lives lost and a tenacious financial crisis. The global threat of terrorism still looms large, as the U.S. falters at trying to annihilate it for good. So 11 years after the devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil, have any genuine amends been made? Yes, the U.S. has been successful in curbing an attack on American territory since then. But the country’s grand plans to ‘smoke terrorists out of their holes’ — as former US President George Bush would say — has made the world a more insecure place.”

Irfan Husain’s column on the pages of the Pakistani daily Dawn also reflects on the fallout from the attacks, and in particular the acceptance of legally dubious justifications for intervention: “After eleven years, thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars wasted since 9/11, the fallout from those events is still with us. And even though Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the attacks, is dead, his toxic ideology continues to delude young Muslims around the globe….Apart from the cost in blood and treasure, 9/11 and the subsequent ‘war on terror’ has made the destabilizing concept of pre-emptive war acceptable. The restraints of international law have been greatly weakened after the attacks on Iraq and Libya. Even as I write this, the crescendo of voices demanding similar action in Syria and Iran is growing.”

Other observations are more introspective. For example, in an op-ed for Arab News, Abdulatif Al-Mulhim is sympathetic of what he sees as America’s resolve and decries attacks in the name of Islam: “What happened on that day had changed the way people think. But on that day the terrorists miscalculated America. Americans were more united. And America’s development didn’t come to a halt. America just sent Curiosity spaceship to Mars and every individual on earth is thumbing an American-made gadget. But what did the attackers accomplish? They destroyed two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) and killed many innocent people. I am a Muslim and what happened had nothing to do with Islam. What happened is against any Islamic teachings.”

Writing from the perspective of an Afghani living through the consequences of the events of that fateful day, Abbas Daiyar, writing for Outlook Afghanistan notes: “We here in Afghanistan had experienced worst than 9/11 attacks in our everyday life during the three decades of war and crisis, particularly in the darkest era of our history under the rule of Taliban regime….It was very tragic, but personally I have always thought 9/11 was like a blessing for the people in Afghanistan because as a consequence of this attack, the U.S. came here and toppled the forces of evil known as the Taliban regime. I don’t mean to be happy for loss of thousands of life on 9/11, but in a way it brought world attention, only when they experienced a day of destruction that we had gone through for years.”

In Pakistan, at least one author took the opportunity to express dismay at the continued hostility of the U.S. media toward Pakistan. Daily Mail News’ Makhdoom Babar is unhappy that “On the eve of the marking of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, the U.S. media, instead of opting to hail and admire Pakistan’s role in curbing post 9/11 terror, found it better to defame and deface the image of Pakistan and its security Forces. The majority of U.S. media on 9/11, 2012 was buzzed with highly fabricated and rather outrageous anti-Pakistan and anti-ISI reports and the same nonsense was proudly reproduced by the U.S.-dominated Indian media, very blindly…. Such ridiculous media endeavors would only earn bad name for the U.S. media instead of serving any purpose to fight terrorism.”

Finally, Jerusalem Post’s Michael Widlanski rails against what he considers the downplaying of the significance both by the U.S. as well as Israeli elites of the 9/11 attacks: “For many of our governing elites, ‘the war on terror’ is not a has-been, but more like a never-was….Obama and his aides would also like to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood, which fathered al Qaida and Hamas, is really moderate. Obama would like to have us believe that the Brotherhood — which has grabbed power in Egypt quickly and efficiently, and which may seize power in Syria — can be bought off by American aid. Sadly, we may have to learn, again, the hard way, that Islamic extremism and the terror it foments are still a factor in our lives.”

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Middle East In Focus is a synopsis of commentary and news from Middle Eastern and other international media. Its purpose is to provide a succinct and balanced summary of the main developments and views that are often overlooked or not properly reflected in the U.S. media. For the most recent collection of articles on and from the Middle East, please go to: Comments and feedback are welcome at

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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