March 12, 2007

CAN SOMETHING THAT WAS NEVER SOLID MELT?:

Jihadist Meltdown (NIBRAS KAZIMI, March 12, 2007, NY Sun)

There is always a moment during a raging battle when one side realizes that the field has been won, and the other side collapses in retreat and confusion. The curious thing about the Iraqi insurgency is that this moment has arrived, yet both the victors, in this case the Americans and the Iraqi government, and the losers, Al Qaeda and the other jihadist groups, are reluctant to acknowledge it.

But make no mistake, the battle has been turned and we are witnessing the beginning of a jihadist meltdown. [...]

This sense that they were running out of time compelled Al Qaeda to take a bold initiative of declaring the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq four months back, appointing the hitherto unknown Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its head. This was no propaganda stunt for Al Qaeda. This was the real thing: the nucleus state for the caliphate, with al-Baghdadi as the candidate caliph.

But this was a fatal strategic mistake for Al Qaeda, a mistake that threatens to pull down all the other jihadist insurgent groups along with it. Al Qaeda tried to leap over reality, but it was a leap into the abyss of uncertainty. Trying to pick a caliph is fraught with historical and judicial complications since there is no historical precedent -- not even from the time of the Prophet Muhammad -- that would serve for an uncontroversial transfer of power. It is one of the most delicate ideological matters among jihadists, a matter so sensitive that most of them have decided to leave it aside for the time being lest it result in splintering off dissenters.

But Zarqawi's successors, who inherited the leadership after his death last June and who are, for the most part, rash young ideologues who consider themselves the avant-garde of contemporary radical Islamism, felt that the doddering old guard of Al Qaeda -- aged and increasingly inconsequential has-beens such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri -- would never summon the nerve to force the issue of the caliphate and get it going. So they rushed into action, and it has exploded in their faces, since no other groups seem enthused to join them in this risky venture. This mistake has huge implications for the Iraqi insurgency since Al Qaeda accounts for most of it, and its strategic and ideological failure can quickly be turned into a battlefield rout.


To the extent that there was ever a beginning worth mentioning, the end began on 9-11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2007 12:08 AM
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