Al Qaeda’s Miscalculation

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 9 months ago

Michael Ledeen’s new book The Iranian Time Bomb contains some brief but stark words that, in a nutshell, wrap up the worldview of radical Shi’a Islam concerning nation-states and how this concept is not a part of their world view.  In the words of Khomeini:

“We do not worship Iran.  We worship Allah.  For patriotism is is another name for paganism.  I say let this land [Iran] burn.  I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.?  Ledeen comments of its more recent history, “Without exception, their core beliefs are totally contrary to the notion they are a traditional nation-state.?

This is radical Shi’a Islam, not moderate Shi’a Islam, and not Sunni Islam.  However, the radical elements of both sects see the world through the same lens.  In both corporate America and jihadism, the solution to failure is reorganization.  There is yet another one underway, this time among the ex-Ba’athists and Saddam henchmen.

Nearly two dozen previously unknown Iraqi insurgent groups announced a new coalition to fight foreign occupation but it also set conditions for talks with the U.S. in a statement on a Web site affiliated with the country’s deposed Baath party.

The 22 groups said their leader is Izzat al-Douri, the highest ranking member of Saddam Hussein’s former ruling party still at large.

In the nearly half hour video message, an unidentified man, face blurred, was shown sitting behind a table with an Iraqi flag on his right side reading a statement announcing the formation of the new alliance called “The Jihad and Liberation.”

The new alliance laid down a series of conditions for talks with the U.S. It demanded an unconditional withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, immediately or within a short timetable, the release of all detainees, return of the security forces to their status before the occupation and a halt to all operations against the people.

“If the enemy wants to withdraw and save face, they should sit down and speak directly with the resistance to discuss implementing these sacred principles. Otherwise, the only alternative is their collapse and flight,” the statement said.

Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s first post-Saddam prime minister, has recently said he held talks with members of the Baath party loyal to al-Douri, for which he was severely criticized by Iraq’s current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The statement made no mention of al-Qaida in Iraq, but it contained slogans praising Arab nationalism and the Arab nation’s great past. Al-Qaida’s extremist ideology does not recognize nationalism, but calls for an Islamic state.

There have been reports of clashes in Iraq between the more nationalist and secular elements of the insurgency with groups following al-Qaida.

The coalition is led by a group linked to al-Douri, who in his later years ascribed to a moderate, mystic Sufi form of Islam.

An Islamic Web site linked to extremist groups such as al-Qaida also carried the announcement, but ridiculed al-Douri and the new group.

In a sign of the desperation of the indigenous insurgents – those who have not been killed – al Douri demands the U.S. departure from Iraq with the threat of collapse in the event of refusal to comply.  Al Douri is the last holdout, will never befriend the new Iraqi government, and has nothing to gain by attempting peace.  He is a hunted man, and his very existence is in jeopardy. His ilk are short timers in the short history of the new Iraq, regardless of what else happens.  But regarding the main point, his views are nationalistic and have nothing to do with an Islamic state or the expansion of Islam beyond the borders of Iraq.

This is the nexus of the tribal turn against al Qaeda and al Qaeda’s failure in Iraq (although the hard line Ba’athists couldn’t participate, being too far submerged into the violence perpetrated against the Shi’a).  Al Qaeda couldn’t have cared less about nationalistic pride, history of heritage, or tribal loyalties and the security of the population.  Their brutal and savage tactics attempting to keep the tribes in line are evidence of not just the difference in tactics, but of world view.  The tactics are just a pointer to something larger – the philosophy that undergirds al Qaeda.

Umar al Baghdadi (whom U.S. intelligence believes to be a nonexistent hoax, but whom Nibras Kazimi believes to exist), addressing the now “recalcitrant” insurgents who have come over to the coalition side, speaks for the Islamic State of Iraq when he says:

… Don’t sell your afterlife for a bunch of coins that will be of no use should you fall into the hands of the mujaheddin before you declare repentance, by Allah your fortifications and your armored vehicles will not protect you, neither will your numbers or the reputation of your tribes, because Allah is making us victorious over you, and you will know that this is so for certain when we cut off your head and extinguish your memory…

He is referring to payment for policing and intelligence, money that the Sunnis badly need to support their families, and monies that should be more forthcoming from the U.S.  If they accept it, he says, their heads will be cut off.  Al Baghdadi sees the end of Western civilization in his wildest dreams.

… Today, we are embarking on a new era, and a point of transformation for the region and the entire world, we are witnessing the end of that lie called Western civilization, and the rise of the Islamic giant, and this is exactly what Bush warned of in his latest speech in front of the veterans [Ed.: August 22, 2007]

Anbar became a three way war: the U.S. against al Qaeda and the indigenous insurgents, al Qaeda against the U.S. and the insurgents, and the insurgents against the U.S. and al Qaeda.  This three way war came into being due to irreconcilable differences in world view: al Qaeda saw a gigantic Islamic state expanding from Iraq throughout the Middle East, and so Iraq became the focal point of their efforts.  The indigenous Sunni story is more complex, with them wanting to return to power in Iraq, and slowly realizing that they wouldn’t, while also realizing that the U.S. would not be militarily defeated.

The lesson from this is not that the Iraqi people are not Islamic.  The lesson is that the Iraqi people didn’t see the requirement to jettison tribe and nation in order to be Islamic, any more than they saw the necessity to embrace world conflict to be the same.  This was al Qaeda’s monumental miscalculation, and Iraq is al Qaeda’s Vietnam.  Their twilight in Iraq has come, as has the Ba’athist holdouts from Saddam’s regime.

You are currently reading "Al Qaeda’s Miscalculation", entry #639 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Iraq,Religion and Insurgency and was published October 5th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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