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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Why Angela Merkel's comments about the UK and US shouldn't be given too much weight

The Chancellor's comments are aimed at a domestic and European audience, and she won't be abandoning Anglo-German relationships just yet.

Angela Merkel’s latest remarks do not seem well-judged but should not be given undue significance. Speaking as part of a rally in Munich for her sister party, the CSU, the German Chancellor claimed “we Europeans must really take our own fate into our hands”.

The comments should be read in the context of September's German elections and Merkel’s determination to restrain the fortune of her main political rival, Martin Schulz – obviously a strong Europhile and a committed Trump critic. Sigmar Gabriel - previously seen as a candidate to lead the left-wing SPD - has for some time been pressing for Germany and Europe to have “enough self-confidence” to stand up to Trump. He called for a “self-confident position, not just on behalf of us Germans but all Europeans”. Merkel is in part responding to this pressure.

Her words were well received by her audience. The beer hall crowd erupted into sustained applause. But taking an implicit pop at Donald Trump is hardly likely to be a divisive tactic at such a gathering. Criticising the UK post-Brexit and the US under Trump is the sort of virtue signalling guaranteed to ensure a good clap.

It’s not clear that the comments represent that much of a new departure, as she herself has since claimed. She said something similar earlier this year. In January, after the publication of Donald Trump’s interview with The Times and Bild, she said that “we Europeans have our fate in our own hands”.

At one level what Merkel said is something of a truism: in two year’s time Britain will no longer be directly deciding the fate of the EU. In future no British Prime Minister will attend the European Council, and British MEPs will leave the Parliament at the next round of European elections in 2019. Yet Merkel’s words “we Europeans”, conflate Europe and the EU, something she has previously rejected. Back in July last year, at a joint press conference with Theresa May, she said: “the UK after all remains part of Europe, if not of the Union”.

At the same press conference, Merkel also confirmed that the EU and the UK would need to continue to work together. At that time she even used the first person plural to include Britain, saying “we have certain missions also to fulfil with the rest of the world” – there the ‘we’ meant Britain and the EU, now the 'we' excludes Britain.

Her comments surely also mark a frustration born of difficulties at the G7 summit over climate change, but Britain and Germany agreed at the meeting in Sicily on the Paris Accord. More broadly, the next few months will be crucial for determining the future relationship between Britain and the EU. There will be many difficult negotiations ahead.

Merkel is widely expected to remain the German Chancellor after this autumn’s election. As the single most powerful individual in the EU27, she is the most crucial person in determining future relations between the UK and the EU. Indeed, to some extent, it was her intransigence during Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ which precipitated Brexit itself. She also needs to watch with care growing irritation across the EU at the (perceived) extent of German influence and control over the institutions and direction of the European project. Recent reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which suggested a Merkel plan for Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank to succeed Mario Draghi at the ECB have not gone down well across southern Europe. For those critics, the hands controlling the fate of Europe are Merkel’s.

Brexit remains a crucial challenge for the EU. How the issue is handled will shape the future of the Union. Many across Europe’s capitals are worried that Brussels risks driving Britain further away than Brexit will require; they are worried lest the Channel becomes metaphorically wider and Britain turns its back on the continent. On the UK side, Theresa May has accepted the EU, and particularly Merkel’s, insistence, that there can be no cherry picking, and therefore she has committed to leaving the single market as well as the EU. May has offered a “deep and special” partnership and a comprehensive free trading arrangement. Merkel should welcome Britain’s clarity. She must work with new French President Emmanuel Macron and others to lead the EU towards a new relationship with Britain – a close partnership which protects free trade, security and the other forms of cooperation which benefit all Europeans.

Henry Newman is the director of Open Europe. He tweets @henrynewman.

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