December 13, 2005


Islamic extremists: Iraqi vote 'satanic' (AP, 12/13/05)

Soldiers, patients and prisoners began voting Monday in national elections, three days ahead of the general population, while insurgents denounced the balloting as a "satanic project" but did not threaten to attack polling stations. [...]

In a rare joint statement, al-Qaeda in Iraq and four other Islamic extremist groups denounced the election as a "satanic project" and said that "to engage in the so-called political process" violates "the legitimate policy approved by God."

The groups vowed to "continue our jihad (holy war) ... to establish an Islamic state ruled by the book (the Quran) and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad." [...]

The absence of a clear-cut threat could reflect the growing interest among Sunni Arabs, the foundation of the insurgency, to take part in the election. The Sunni decision to boycott the January ballot left parliament in the hands of Shiites and Kurds — a move which increased communal friction and cost the Sunnis considerable influence in drafting the constitution.

And a lack of interest in the jihad.

'Blowback' in Iraq (Gary Rosen, 12/13/05, LA Times)

Military setbacks are the least of the radicals' worries, however. Despite their continuing appeal to a segment of Arab opinion — think of young men shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as they watch endless iterations of beheadings on the Internet — Zarqawi and his followers have lost considerable ground in the struggle for Arab "hearts and minds." Their indiscriminate brutality in striking at Shiites and at Sunni "collaborators" has turned much of Iraq, including elements of the insurgency, against them, and their early November bombings of Western hotels in Amman, Jordan, sparked outrage across the Arab world. Even Ayman Zawahiri, Bin Laden's top lieutenant, felt compelled to rebuke Zarqawi, instructing him (in a recently intercepted letter) to cease actions that "the masses do not understand or approve."

The still-deeper threat to the legitimacy of the jihadists, as they themselves recognize, is the ongoing democratic project in Iraq. In January, as Iraqis went to the polls for the first of their three elections this year, Zarqawi released a message declaring "a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it." He has made good on his pledge, even to the point of lashing out at the growing number of Sunnis who, despite hating the U.S. occupation, have reconciled themselves to the new Iraq. Just two weeks ago, Zarqawi's forces assassinated the grand imam of Fallouja. The 70-year-old cleric's crime? Urging fellow Sunnis to vote. A strong Sunni turnout is expected on Thursday, and the radicals will be left to sulk in the shadows.

Whether the United States will succeed in helping to establish a more liberal, pluralistic Iraq remains to be seen. But if nothing else, the conflict there has served a useful, clarifying purpose — revealing the jihadists as nihilistic spoilers opposed to the aspirations of most of the Muslim world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 13, 2005 6:24 AM

Well, with Al Qaeda calling the elections 'satanic', then they are in full agreement with most of the lefty blogs. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the rabid leftists have tried to contribute to the terrorists out of their hatred for Bush.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 13, 2005 9:46 AM

Wow, I think we have reached a tipping point - to read these two articles and see they are from AP and the LA Times is amazing.

Posted by: Kay in CA at December 13, 2005 11:23 AM

Oh THAT seething Arab street.

Posted by: jeff at December 13, 2005 1:54 PM