Bin Laden’s death: international responses

Hamas condemns the “killing of an Arab holy warrior”.

You can watch Barack Obama's statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden here. I've collected some more responses from governments and leaders below. Most remarkable is the disgraceful statement from Hamas, which condemns the killing of an "Arab holy warrior".

Hamas, which has never aligned itself with al-Qaeda in the past, will struggle to convince the west that it is now a legitimate "partner for peace".

Pakistan's foreign ministry: "In an intelligence-driven operation, Osama Bin Laden was killed in the surroundings of Abbottabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama Bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.

"Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama Bin Laden.

"Osama Bin Laden's death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a huge setback to terrorist organisations around the world.

"Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan's campaign against al-Qaeda, other terrorist organisations and affiliates.

"Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence-sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies, including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.

"It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan's political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism."

Hamas: "We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood . . . we condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs."

Palestinian Authority: "Getting rid of Bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods – the violent methods – that were created and encouraged by Bin Laden and others in the world."

Hamid Karzai: "The American forces yesterday killed Osama Bin Laden and made him pay for his deeds, in Abbottabad city of Pakistan, close to Islamabad. He was made to pay for his actions."

David Cameron: "The news that Osama Bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world. Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen – for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British. It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror.

"This is a time to remember all those murdered by Osama Bin Laden, and all those who lost loved ones. It is also a time . . . to thank all those who work round the clock to keep us safe from terrorism. Their work will continue. I congratulate President Obama and those responsible for carrying out this operation."

Nick Clegg: "There will be a great sense of relief today that Osama Bin Laden, a man who wrought so much destruction and who spread such a vile, hate-filled ideology, can no longer do so.

"This successful US operation is a major step forward and a serious blow to al-Qaeda but it does not mean that the struggle against terrorism is over. We will all need to continue to be as vigilant as ever in the fight against terrorism.

"At this time our thoughts go out to all of those in the UK and other countries who have suffered, directly and indirectly, from the violence that Bin Laden inflicted on the world."

Tony Blair: "My heartfelt gratitude to President Obama and to all of those who so brilliantly undertook and executed this operation.

"We should never forget 9/11 was also the worst ever terrorist attack against UK civilians, and our thoughts are with all those – American, British and from nations across the world – who lost their lives and with their loved ones who remain and who live with their loss.

"9/11 was an attack not just on the United States, but on all those who shared the best values of civilisation.

"The operation shows those who commit acts of terror against the innocent will be brought to justice, however long it takes.

"So this is a huge achievement in the fight against terrorism but we know the fight against the terrorism and the ideology that Bin Laden represents continues and is as urgent as ever."

George W Bush: "Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude.

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on 11 September 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: no matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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I'd only given a literary talk, but someone still told me to leave the country

“So if you don’t like it so much,” he says, “why don’t you leave?” And his tone suggests that there is a good train leaving from St Pancras in half an hour.

So here I am at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square. Eventually. After a misunderstanding that finds me first, forlorn and bemused, at Olympia, with the London Book Fair closing down for the evening, watching my fee grow wings and fly away into the night air. I am called up and told where I could more profitably go instead – that is to say, the venue I should be at. On reassurance that my expenses will be met, I hop into a cab as soon as I find one (which, on Kensington High Street at 7pm, takes far longer than you would think. I will not use Uber).

I am going there in order to be on a panel that is talking about Benjamin Fondane (1898-1944), the Romanian intellectual, poet, essayist, philosopher and all-round dude. I know nothing about the guy beyond what I learned from reviewing a selection of his writings last July but this makes me, apparently, one of this country’s leading experts on him. Such is the level of intellectual curiosity in this part of the world. Fondane was treated much better in Paris, where he moved after finding studying law in Bucharest too boring; treated very much worse in 1944, when he was sent to Auschwitz.

A little corner of me is panicking a bit before the gig starts: I know next to nothing about the man, especially compared to my co-panellists, and I might betray this to the audience of around 80 (I refer to their number, not their age), sitting in their little gilt chairs, in a nice gilt drawing room, which is par for the course for European cultural institutes in this neck of the woods.

Another part of me says: “Don’t be silly, you’ll be fine,” and it turns out I am. I even manage to throw in a few jokes. During the course of one of my answers I say that the UK is a cultural desert and that there was a reason Fondane stopped moving when he got to Paris. The idea of coming to London to breathe the pure air of artistic freedom and inspiration was, and remains, laughable. It gets a chuckle or two out of the (mostly Mittel-European) audience, who like a bit of British self-deprecation as much as we do.

Or do we? Downstairs, and clutching my first glass of the evening (a perfectly drinkable Romanian Merlot), I chat to various people who come up and say they like my reviews etc, etc. All very pleasant. And then a man comes up to me, about my age, maybe a year or three younger, smartly tweeded.

“I was very offended by what you said about this country being a cultural desert,” he says. He is not joking.

“Oh?” I say. “Well, it is.”

He has the look of someone about to come up with a devastating argument.

“What about Shakespeare?” he asks me. “What about Oscar Wilde?”

“They’re dead,” I say, leaving aside the fact that Wilde was Irish, and that anywhere was better than Ireland in the 19th century for gay playwrights.

“So’s Fondane,” he says.

I think at this point I might have raised my glasses and massaged the bridge of my nose with finger and thumb, a sign for those who know me of extreme exasperation, and a precursor to verbal violence.

“So if you don’t like it so much,” he says, “why don’t you leave?” And his tone suggests that there is a good train leaving from St Pancras in half an hour.

“Do not presume to tell me, sir, whether I should leave the country.”

He tells me he has a Polish wife, as if that has any bearing on the matter. He says something else, which for the life of me I can’t remember, but I do know that when I replied to it, I used only one word, and that the word was “bollocks”.

“Well, if you’re going to use bad language . . .”

“I’ve got more,” I say, and proceed to launch a volley of it at him. Things have escalated quickly, I know, but there is no jest in his tone and what I am detecting is, I realise, his strong awareness of the Z in my name, my nose, and my flawless olive complexion. One develops antennae for this kind of thing, after almost half a century. And there’s a lot more of it about these days.

In the end, I become pretty much incoherent. On stage I’d caught myself thinking: “Golly, talking is even easier than writing;” but now my fluency deserts me. But God, it’s fun getting into a fight like this.

I’ve left my tobacco at home but the Romanian government gives me a whole pack of Marlboro Gold, and more wine. Vata-n libertate ori moarte! As they say. You can work it out. 

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution