Al-Qaeda’s Lose/Lose Situation In Iraq
As most of you may have heard, a letter from Al-Qaeda’s number two man al-Zawahiri to their man in Iraq, Zarqawi, has fallen into our hands. It’s full of intriguing information, but there is one particular part worth focusing on because it shows how our “strategery” in Iraq has put Al-Qaeda’s neck in the noose.
First of all, here’s the overall strategy Al-Qaeda is pursuing:
“The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq.
The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.
There is no doubt that this amirate will enter into a fierce struggle with the foreign infidel forces, and those supporting them among the local forces, to put it in a state of constant preoccupation with defending itself, to make it impossible for it to establish a stable state which could proclaim a caliphate, and to keep the Jihadist groups in a constant state of war, until these forces find a chance to annihilate them.
The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.
The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”
So basically, they want us to cut and run — which incidentally, it is worth noting, is exactly what many people in the anti-war crowd want as well — and then, while the Iraqi government is too weak to defend itself, Al-Qaeda will “fill the void.” But, if the Iraqis are able to defend themselves, then Al-Qaeda is doomed in Iraq because there will be no void to fill.
Moreover, as al-Zawahiri admits later in the letter, the attacks on Iraqis are so unpopular that they’re self-defeating. First, he emphasizes with Zarqawi and explains that he understands why attacks on civilians, particularly on the Shias, have been made. But then, he goes on to say:
“We must repeat what we mentioned previously, that the majority of Muslims don’t comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia. The sharpness of this questioning increases when the attacks are on one of their mosques, and it increases more when the attacks are on the mausoleum of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God honor him. My opinion is that this matter won’t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.
Indeed, questions will circulate among mujahedeen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shia at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the mujahed movement in Iraq gets stronger? And if some of the operations were necessary for self-defense, were all of the operations necessary? Or, were there some operations that weren’t called for? And is the opening of another front now in addition to the front against the Americans and the government a wise decision? Or, does this conflict with the Shia lift the burden from the Americans by diverting the mujahedeen to the Shia, while the Americans continue to control matters from afar? And if the attacks on Shia leaders were necessary to put a stop to their plans, then why were there attacks on ordinary Shia? Won’t this lead to reinforcing false ideas in their minds, even as it is incumbent on us to preach the call of Islam to them and explain and communicate to guide them to the truth? And can the mujahedeen kill all of the Shia in Iraq? Has any Islamic state in history ever tried that? And why kill ordinary Shia considering that they are forgiven because of their ignorance? And what loss will befall us if we did not attack the Shia? And do the brothers forget that we have more than one hundred prisoners – many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries – in the custody of the Iranians? (Hawkins’ Note: That’s an interesting little detail, isn’t it?) And even if we attack the Shia out of necessity, then why do you announce this matter and make it public, which compels the Iranians to take counter measures? And do the brothers forget that both we and the Iranians need to refrain from harming each other at this time in which the Americans are targeting us?
…Among the things which the feelings of the Muslim populace who love and support you will never find palatable – also- are the scenes of slaughtering the hostages. You shouldn’t be deceived by the praise of some of the zealous young men and their description of you as the shaykh of the slaughterers, etc. They do not express the general view of the admirer and the supporter of the resistance in Iraq, and of you in particular by the favor and blessing of God.
And your response, while true, might be: Why shouldn’t we sow terror in the hearts of the Crusaders and their helpers? And isn’t the destruction of the villages and the cities on the heads of their inhabitants more cruel than slaughtering? And aren’t the cluster bombs and the seven ton bombs and the depleted uranium bombs crueler than slaughtering? And isn’t killing by torture crueler than slaughtering? And isn’t violating the honor of men and women more painful and more destructive than slaughtering?
All of these questions and more might be asked, and you are justified. However this does not change the reality at all, which is that the general opinion of our supporter does not comprehend that, and that this general opinion falls under a campaign by the malicious, perfidious, and fallacious campaign by the deceptive and fabricated media. And we would spare the people from the effect of questions about the usefulness of our actions in the hearts and minds of the general opinion that is essentially sympathetic to us.
…(W)e are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma.”
Translated, basically what he’s saying is, our supporters don’t mind when you kill Americans, but when you kill Muslims, they become upset with you. So, what happens when the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias have approved their own Constitution, had elections, and are policing themselves? Does Al-Qaeda admit defeat or do they continue murdering other Muslims which will make them less popular by the day with many of their current sympathizers? That’s the dilemma Al-Qaeda will face and whichever choice they make, they will still lose.