Abul Taher’s UK Times Online article today – al Qaeda: The cracks begin to show – is yet another in successive articles that document the growing disfavor of the jihad movements because of their brutal rules of engagement. While the iconic villains remain Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri, the shared goals by other movements who are not card carrying AQ associate members, are not excluded in the world’s growing disenchantment with jihad in general.
Taher’s article is a nicely written overview of a subject many of us are already aware of. Certainly worthy of a personal read from end to end. Touched on are increasing sermons from Mosque pulpits, condemning the murders of fellow Muslims; AQ’s increasingly desperate attempts to replace their dwindling suicide bomber numbers by reaching out to 13 year olds (plus the disabled and women he neglected to mention); and polls in Pakistan showing support for the suicide bombings dropping from 1/3 to about 9%. I guess there’s nothing like having those bombs in your back yard to alter your opinion
But since the subject of AQ’s popularity decline has been documented here at FA many times before, I’d like to take this off tangent for interactive speculation by FA readers. And this involves a certain amount of “what if’s”, peppered by scads of parallel universe imagination. These are the scenarios:
1: Had the US not gone into Afghanistan and removed the Taliban (not AQ, the Taliban) for harboring and abetting AQ – would this trend against jihad be in play today?
2: Had the US gone into Afghanistan and quit there, would this trend be in play?
3: Do you think the events of Iraq are the prime factor driving this trend?
UPDATE: AJ Strata at The Stratasphere has a post today echoing my thoughts, but sans the solicited “exercise” I propose here.
But to garner the news headlines it required to win the war against the will and determination of America, something Bin Laden predicted would fail, something he assumed would fail, al-Qaeda started to indiscriminately massacre – killing thousands of Iraqi Muslims in the process. When the Iraqis started to raise objections, they were killed in the most gruesome ways in order to bring them back in line under the rule of al-Qaeda’s foreign thugs. It was these atrocities against fellow Muslims which turned al-Qaeda’s support base against it.
Per AJ, like myself, no Iraq, no backlash against al Qaeda as we see today. But he adds another interesting tidbit. A NY Daily Times article by Paul Cruickshank today that calls out to the future POTUS candidates. In his final paragraph, he points out that seizing this opportunity is a must.
This is the new world in which we are living. If Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are to make strong national security cases for their candidacies, they must both come to terms with this new strategic reality – and propose steps for how to isolate Al Qaeda further.
Indeed, this new rebellion against jihad is the most significant progress in winning hearts and minds, thus offering the best bet to minimize future attacks by terrorists. But the American public must be re’educated – taught that singular events are merely a radar blip on the overall strategy.
Back to the exercise. I’ll pass on my own opine… just ‘cus I brung it up… and let the rest of you take it from there.
There was no doubt in my mind that the US had sat back and allowed increasing assaults by jihad movements on US assets for far too long. After an attack on our soil – designed to bring us to our economic knees (WTC economic center) and to cripple our military response (Pentagon and the WH or Congress) – Afghanistan was necessary and correct. There is little divide in the US, or even the world on that action.
However after Afghanistan was when AQ enjoyed some of it’s greatest popularity… a resentment of the US and it’s military response by bolding invading and instigating regime change in an Arab nation. Had we stopped there, I suggest that popularity for jihad would never have waned.
When the US took on Iraq as the next feasible nest for the scattered jihad movements, again the jihad movement enjoyed a surge in popularity. Yet as the US made slow headway, and the Iraqis showed genuine intent and bravery to try and create an Arab democracy of their own choosing, the jihad movement and Iraq’s internal displaced power brokers – Ba’athist/ex-IIS allies – became increasingly desperate.
The mutually shared goal of the new Iraq minority plus jihad militants created a doomed alliance. They focused on attempts to create civil war chaos in order to bring down the elected government. This, however, required Muslim on Muslim warfare, and the destruction of historic places of worship.
In short, IMHO, were it not for Iraq, the Muslim world at large would not have seen the very brutal and un-Islamic nature of the jihad movement. Without Iraq, jihad would most likely still hold a revered place in Muslims’ hearts as the epitome of religious freedom fighters.
With these thoughts, and in hindsight, my only conclusion can be that this rise up against jihad by Muslims themselves was only possible with the Iraq war – which showed the true colors of the militants . And what say ye?
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.