Thursday, February 15, 2007
Finally, I have found a site that has noticed what is significant about Zawahiri's recent public statement. I am surprised that Zawahiri, an Egyptian whose original and I think continuing vision is for a revolution in Egypt, has in this recent statement not only omitted any mention of Osama Bin Laden, for whom he is said to be the deputy, but has specifically called for Muslims everywhere to join the holy war under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar, whom he recognizes as "Amir" of the believers. Muhammad Omar is a rural Pushtun mullah with limited education who has, at least until now, represented the Taliban agenda of winning back Afghanistan for the Taliban. For him, it has always been a nationalist cause, an Afghanistan issue; the issues in the Arab world are for him distant and insignificant. What is Zawahiri doing, an educated Arab doctor, offering his allegiance to this Pushtun mullah? Something clearly has taken place. That was the first surprise: the second has been that scarcely anyone seems to have noticed. The following article is the only one I have found that grasped the significance of the Zawahiri tape; the others have focused on the insulting psychoanalysis of Bush and missed what was significant.
The following is a summary of the article Al Qaeda: Al-Zawahiri's New Tape Indicates Shifts from Stratfor:
"...Ayman al-Zawahiri ... suggest[s] the jihadists are having a hard time dealing with the rise of Iran and the Shia ... al-Zawahiri refers to Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar as the leader of the global jihadists -- an indication that al Qaeda on its own cannot sustain its position as the jihadist vanguard."
"Al-Zawahiri's latest message bears several indicators that al Qaeda is going through a difficult time. The lack of fresh video footage in this message indicates that the jihadists are facing some operational constraints. This is not surprising, given the recent counter-jihadist operations in Pakistan's northwestern Pashtun areas ... "
"Furthermore, al Qaeda's ... statements are usually preceded by an announcement ... on jihadist Web sites a few days before their release; this message was announced only a few hours prior ... This could indicate ... that production was hindered by operational security concerns."
" ... al-Zawahiri refers to Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar as the leader of the global jihadist movement ... It would appear that, given the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, al Qaeda is willing to accept Mullah Omar as its supreme leader. This could be an indication that al Qaeda's apex leadership has weakened to the point where it is heavily dependent on the Pashtun jihadists."
" ... al-Zawahiri acknowledges a weakness on the part of jihadists when he says they "are in need of men, money, materiel ..."
" ... Al-Zawahiri's communique lacks any direct criticism of Iran or the Shia."
" ... al Qaeda has probably come to terms with the fact that Iran and the Shia ... are seen as the vanguard of the Muslim world against the United States and Israel."
" ... While al-Zawahiri is likely trying to avoid a conflict with Iran and the Shia, many jihadists want to press ahead with their anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian campaign -- a situation that could lead to an intra-jihadist conflict. Additionally, the deference to the Pashtun jihadist movement will create problems because the Arab jihadists would not want to subordinate themselves to non-Arabs and to those who do not necessarily adhere to the Arabs' radical Wahhabi ideology."