Middle East

Aiding Al Qaeda

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The Gaza war has at least one clear beneficiary, writes Marc Lynch:

Ayman al-Zawahiri has finally weighed in on behalf of al-Qaeda over the Gaza crisis, calling it part of the West's war on Islam and calling on Muslims everywhere to attack Western and Israeli targets. He sounds about as happy as I can remember hearing him of late. He probably can't believe his luck.

Israel's assault on Gaza has really created an almost unbelievable no-lose situation for al-Qaeda. If Hamas "wins", then al-Qaeda gets to share in the benefits of the political losses incurred by its Western and Arab enemies (Zawahiri mentions Mubarak and the Saudis in this tape, but not the Jordanians) and can try to take advantage of the political upheavals which could follow. If Hamas "loses", al-Qaeda still wins. It will shed no tears at seeing one of its bitterest and most dangerous rivals take a beating at Israel's hands or losing control of a government that they have consistently decried as illegitimate and misguided. Either way, the Gaza crisis guarantees that a far more radicalized Islamic world will face the incoming Obama administration—potentially severely blunting the challenge which al-Qaeda clearly felt after the election (hence Zawahiri's attempt to pre-emptively discredit Obama by declaring the attack Obama's "gift" to Muslims).

You should read the whole post. It goes well beyond the familiar observation that Israel's attacks have radicalized Arab opinion, zeroing in on how they've affected intra-Islamist rivalries. E.g.:

The way this crisis is playing out shows the bankruptcy and strategic dangers of trying to simply reduce Hamas to part of an undifferentiated "global terrorist front". The Muslim Brotherhood, from whence Hamas evolved twenty years ago, is no friend of the United States or Israel but is nevertheless one of al-Qaeda's fiercest rivals….Al-Qaeda has long been desperate for a foothold in Palestine, but has been largely kept out because Hamas has the place locked. Jihadist forums bear a deep grudge over Hamas's crackdown on various jihadist groups which have tried to set up shop there (Jaysh al-Islam, et al)….

Even if Hamas emerges weakened, as Israeli strategists hope, all the better (from al-Qaeda's point of view, that is). In general, where the MB is strong (Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine for example), AQ has had a hard time finding a point of entry despite serious efforts to do so, while where the MB is weak (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon) it has had more success. Up to now, AQ-minded groups have had little success in penetrating Gaza, because Hamas had it locked. Now they clearly have high hopes of finding an entree with a radicalized, devastated population and a weakened Hamas.

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  1. Can we assume that OBL is dead considering we haven’t heard from him on this issue or anything in a while – presumably dead from disease, cave collapse or a traffic accident rather than anything the US has done…

  2. The enemy of my enemy is NOT necessarily my friend.

  3. In all seriousness, what is the scenario in which Hamas “wins” (scarequotes or no) ?

  4. what is the scenario in which Hamas “wins”

    Egypt makes them what they should have been decades ago: citizens.

  5. Is there a reason we should care which nutcases–AQ or Hamas–is running Gaza?

  6. Matthew–Hamas will claim the same “victory” Saddam did after the first Gulf War: The invaders are gone, we’re still alive and in control of out territory, therefore we “win.”

  7. So “Kill ’em all and let Allah sort ’em out” is not an effective strategy?

    So what the fuck am I supposed to do with this t-shirt then?

  8. this is pure BS.

    if we weaken Hamas, AQ will step in, so we should leave Hamas alone to do whatever they do?

    Israel is retaliating to Hamas rockets. theorizing that defeating Hamas will lead to AQ rise is just speculation intended to stop Israel. if AQ establishes itself in Gaza, Israel can do an encore with AQ as the target.

    [henry]

    it is an effective strategy, but executing it will require lots of big balls; currently missing in the West:)

  9. So “Kill ’em all and let Allah sort ’em out” is not an effective strategy?

    I suspect it would be a very effective strategy, if your goal is to stop attacks on Israel from Gaza. For better or worse, the Israelis will never try it.

  10. See if we fight back, Al Quada wins. So, the strategy is to just let them kill us. Clearly, Israel needs to do what is necessary to win and die.

    How can Reason endorse this horseshit?

  11. Of course, the excellent idea of throwing the Arabs out of any territory that the Jews liberate from the Arab savages per Rabbi Meir Kahane, Zt”l ( No choice but transfer )will not be advocated by the misnamed “Reason Magazine” even if it obviously weakens the Arab masses in love with eliminationist anti-Semitism, the destruction of America, and theocratic tyranny.

    This stupidity of complaining or implying that fighting the Islamics should not be done because it will make the Arab terrorists mad at us is clearly an example of the drug detiorated brains of the evil Libertarian party elites.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.”

  12. Underzog,

    You have to understand that Reason is populated by a bunch of white upper class kids whose idea of “seeing the world” is going to U Street in Washington DC. They honestly believe that Al Quada is just a bunch of groovy people who wouldn’t be angy at us if we would just stop giving them a reasons. When you realize who they are and where they come from, you are not very surprised by some of the stupid shit they write.

  13. SugarFree | January 7, 2009, 2:25pm | #

    what is the scenario in which Hamas “wins”

    Egypt makes them what they should have been decades ago: citizens.

    Agreed. Gaza was part of Egypt in 1950. Carter messed up big time when he had the Sinai peninsula go back to Egypt minus Gaza. He should of had Gaza return to Egypt as well instead of leaving Gazans in a quasi status indefinitely.

  14. “Carter messed up big time when he had the Sinai peninsula go back to Egypt minus Gaza. He should of had Gaza return to Egypt as well instead of leaving Gazans in a quasi status indefinitely.”

    You give Carter too much credit. That dumbass jew hating hillbilly did not broker the deal. The deal was already done when they went to camp david. Egypt had no intention of taking back Gaza because they knew it would be a headache for Israel.

  15. Egypt had no intention of taking back Gaza because they knew it would be a headache for Israel.

    True, but I would have said that Egypt refused to take Gaza because, like everyone else, the last thing the Egyptians want is a bunch of soi disant “Palestinians” as permanent residents.

  16. They’re almost indistinguishable from the Liberal/neo Communist Left sometimes. They remind me of those protestors at that Cindy Sheehan protest who carred signs that said “the Iraqis are right to fight” [the Americans, that is]. see in my video, Peaceniks Unhinged.

    I think a lot of the Reasonoids hate America, too. And they helped elect the neo Commie Democrats in 2006 by taking votes away from Republicans with their misleading rhetoric.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.!

    They don’t even mention that Usama bin Laden was pissed off because of the U.S. on Saudi soil more than his cynical adoption of the so-called Palestinians.

  17. “””You have to understand that Reason is populated by a bunch of white upper class kids whose idea of “seeing the world” is going to U Street in Washington DC. They honestly believe that Al Quada is just a bunch of groovy people who wouldn’t be angy at us if we would just stop giving them a reasons. When you realize who they are and where they come from, you are not very surprised by some of the stupid shit they write.”””

    And John loves to spend time being present in their company via Hit and Run.

    The issue of blowback aside, claiming people at reason thinks AQ is “just a bunch of groovy people” is the most silly thing I’ve seen you post in the two years I’ve been around.

  18. Man, it’s good I have the day off today. I’m not allowed to drink at work.

  19. Rex | January 7, 2009, 3:26pm | #

    this is pure BS.

    if we weaken Hamas, AQ will step in, so we should leave Hamas alone to do whatever they do?

    Israel is retaliating to Hamas rockets. theorizing that defeating Hamas will lead to AQ rise is just speculation intended to stop Israel. if AQ establishes itself in Gaza, Israel can do an encore with AQ as the target.

    [henry]

    it is an effective strategy, but executing it will require lots of big balls; currently missing in the West:)

    Quite true. There is a tendency to think of Islamic terrorists in terms of religion, culture, or geopolitics in the hopes that we can sit in an ivory tower and think our ways out of this mess. This is a lot more comforting than realizing that root cause of terrorism is a terrorist with a weapon pointed at us, not an old book we can debate away. Al-Qaeda agents act like your classic amoral rational egoists. You can understand them best if you analyze their religion and action separately. They preach Islam, because doing so gives them access to massive funding from the Muslim world. They practice terroism, because doing so extracts concessions from the West. Just look how well terroism in the 1970’s worked for Arafat. Instead of serving jail time for it, he got invitations to the White House and billions in foreign aid. With that precedent, it’s no wonder Al-Qaeda’s # 2 is following his example. The only way to stop terroism is to change the cost-benefit ratio for doing terrorism to make it too costly and too ineffective. That means, standing up to them no matter how scary they are. It also means responding to people’s action’s not their religion. Leave peaceful Muslims alone. Go after Muslim terroists regardless of what they preach, be it secular nationalism or religious fundamentaism.

  20. John | January 7, 2009, 5:04pm | #

    Underzog,

    You have to understand that Reason is populated by a bunch of white upper class kids whose idea of “seeing the world” is going to U Street in Washington DC. They honestly believe that Al Quada is just a bunch of groovy people who wouldn’t be angy at us if we would just stop giving them a reasons. When you realize who they are and where they come from, you are not very surprised by some of the stupid shit they write.

    I gotta disagree here. Reason staff and visitors are quite aware about the danger Al-Qaeda faces and have spoken out against Al-Qaeda like they would any violent oppressive group.

  21. Interesting how “Israeli policy against Hamas might be opening a space for Al Qaeda” was transformed somehow into “Al Quada [sic] is just a bunch of groovy people who wouldn’t be angy [sic] at us if we would just stop giving them a reasons [sic].” The Scarecrow of Oz would be embarrassed at all the straw here.

  22. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is getting worse by the day: hundreds have died and thousands are trapped in their homes. Families have been cut off from the outside world, and the United Nations has declared a food crisis, with nearly every commodity in dangerously short supply. Electricity, water and heat are becoming scarce, further endangering families during these long weeks of winter.
    Mercy Corps, a non-profit humanitarian aid organization is actively trying to help Gazans affected by the recent violence.

    With humanitarian needs growing and no end in sight to the crisis, Mercy Corps is calling for immediate humanitarian access to Gaza’s families. Only a trickle of goods is making it in, and it is not nearly enough to meet the needs of thousands. You can sign their petition by clicking here. This petition urges the U.S. government to push for aid to be allowed immediately.

    And, you can help Mercy Corps get the humanitarian items they need once the border is open by donating to Mercy Corps’ Gaza Crisis Fund. Mercy Corps has a four-ton shipment of food that’s supposed to enter Gaza tomorrow, and they’re deploying additional aid workers to Jerusalem and Egypt to prepare to do more.

  23. The linked website with Ayman al-Zawahiri’s statements is in Arabic. For those who, like me, don’t know Arabic, here is the google translation:

    Due to the aggression on Gaza
    Zawahri calls for strike

    Al Qaeda called on Muslims to attack Western and Israeli targets in various
    parts of the world because of the aggression waged by Israel on Gaza

    This came in a recording attributed to the second man in the al-Qaeda,
    Ayman al-Zawahri, in a letter on the Internet on Tuesday in which he said
    that “the interests of Muslims hit the Zionists and the Crusaders in any
    place and by any means possible.”

    Zawahri said in the letter that Israeli attacks on Gaza is part of a campaign
    against Islam and Western, also accused U.S. President-elect Barack Obama of
    involvement in the matter.

    He added that “now is facing the Palestinians in a series of Zionist-Crusader
    campaign targeting Islam and Muslims” and went on to say that “these attacks,
    Obama is a gift to the Palestinians before taking up his post.”

    If any readers are fluent in Arabic, please post a tranlation or evaluate this one.

  24. Wendy, I feel for the people of Gaza, but Gazans are launching dozens of rockets a day at Israeli civilians. They have enough fuel to launch rockets, why aren’t they heating their homes and running their power plants with that fuel instead?

  25. John,

    It was Peter Schwartz in his landmark article on Libertarianism who pointed out that Israel is enemy number one in the Libertarian leaders’ ethos.

    Things have not changed since Peter Schwartz wrote that article. They may have even gotten worse as one dissident Libertarian points out: Libertarians who loathe Israel

    Foaming at the mouth over Israel

    There are good Libertarians who don’t fall for this fakenstein fantasy, but they are hardly in power in the group.

    Neal Boortz is attacked by the “mainstream” Libertarians for his courageous stands.

  26. Your’e right: the West will not benefit from the problems in Gaza.

    But the basic cause of the on-going massacre in Gaza (almost 700 dead so far) is the Zionist ideology.

    Please recall that it was the Zionist militias who made 800,000 Palestinians into refugees in 1948.

    The price of Zionism is simply: the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians – and that’s what we’re seeing in Gaza.

    The Palestine Review
    http://palestinereview.com

  27. , further endangering families during these long weeks of winter.

    5 day forecast for the area: Partly cloudy chance of showers, highs in the mid 60’s lows in the low 50’s.

  28. OK, sure, Hamas is a rival of Al Qaeda. So? I can grant that al Qaeda might benefit from Hamas weakening. But that by itself is not an argument for supporting Hamas, or even for not specifically distinguishing between rival groups. Unless you take the argument that we’re at war with al Qaeda specifically, and that so long as that named group does poorly, we don’t care about who else may be in power.

    Wasn’t this same argument made about Fatah and Hamas?

  29. John Smith,

    Arabs had no reason to flee in 1948. Israel now has arround a million Arabs, the descendants of Arabs who accepted the State of Israel. They are exempt from military service, but have the option of serving in the military or in a civilian service program. Israeli Arabs enjoy the full rights of any Israeli citizen.

  30. People who talk about how Israel is massacring Palestinians are talking self-evident nonsense. After a week and a half of intensive bombing and a ground assault almost 700 people have been killed (out of a population of well over a million). That’s roughly .0007 percent of the population. This with the use of hundreds of fighters and thousands of bombs. If Israel’s goal was ‘genocide’ or the outright massacre of Palestinians they’re doing a piss-poor job. But if their goal was the surgical elimination of terrorists (with regrettably, collateral deaths, but who asked Hamas to put weapons stores in the basement of Mosques?), they’re doing a pretty good job. Given the sophistication of the Israeli war machine it’s absurd to claim they’re just ‘killing Arabs’. If they wanted to do that they could have killed the entire population in a couple of days.

  31. But that by itself is not an argument for supporting Hamas

    What a relief!

  32. So according to the logic of Marc Lynch, Israel should let Hamas attack it with impunity, because not doing so is a victory for al Qaeda.
    Who knew that the path to victory against terrorism was allowing them to murder your citizens at will and caving to their every whim, no matter how depraved?

  33. “With humanitarian needs growing and no end in sight to the crisis, Mercy Corps is calling for immediate humanitarian access to Gaza’s families.”

    I hate to sound crass, but maybe they should have thought of that before they voted into power a group whose sole reason for being is the elimination of Israel.

  34. “But the basic cause of the on-going massacre in Gaza (almost 700 dead so far) is the Zionist ideology”
    “The Palestine Review
    http://palestinereview.com

    So in other words the ideology of Hamas, which places the destruction of Israel as its number one priority, has no bearing on anything at all? Give me a fucking break.

    And as someone so eloquently pointed out in an earlier post, 700 deaths, a huge portion of which have been Hamas terrorists (or militant if you are an apologist for mass-murdering thugs)is hardly evidence of a massacre (unless it is a fabricated one ala Jenin). If anything it is evidence of the exact opposite. If the Israelis were as indiscriminate as Hamas, there would be thousands and thousands dead now.

    You Are An Idiot
    http://commonfuckingsense.com

  35. “Wendy, I feel for the people of Gaza, but Gazans are launching dozens of rockets a day at Israeli civilians. They have enough fuel to launch rockets, why aren’t they heating their homes and running their power plants with that fuel instead?”

    Unfortunately jtuf, I think you ask too much when you expect Western media and so-called “human rights” organizations to draw a link between the terrorist actions of Hamas and the suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza. They would rather portray it as being entirely the fault of Israel.

  36. …almost 700 people have been killed (out of a population of well over a million). That’s roughly .0007 percent of the population.

    .07 percent, or multiplied by .0007. Once you say “percent”, you’re adding two zeroes.

  37. And careful Jesse, you don’t want to make John angy.

  38. …almost 700 people have been killed (out of a population of well over a million). That’s roughly .0007 percent of the population.

    .07 percent, or multiplied by .0007. Once you say “percent”, you’re adding two zeroes.

    That’ll teach me to use a calculator late at night when I’m in a hurry. Sorry about that.

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