IT IS now three years since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” upheavals that have roiled the region. Early on, many analysts argued that the massive public protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere constituted a definitive rejection of the al-Qaida ideology of waging violent jihad against corrupt Arab regimes and their Western backers.

Indeed, Osama bin Laden’s former popularity, as measured by public opinion polls, had already declined sharply by then. Hence, at first glance, his liquidation in May 2011 seemed to herald the organization’s demise.

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