Thursday, January 25, 2007

Who's Helping the Terrorists?

By Robert Parry
January 26, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz was given prime space on the Washington Post’s Op-Ed page to question the wisdom and the patriotism of Americans who disagree with George W. Bush’s long war against Muslim militants.

To Liz Cheney, who surely qualified on merit for her former job as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, there’s only one option – to stay the course in Iraq and to remain firmly in line behind President Bush.

Read on.


blue said...

There is an old Zen story of the master who tells the monk "If you do nat say anything I will hit you with the stick; if you do say something I will hit you with the stick".

Are we to conduct foreign policy by what Al Qaeda says or does not say? Have we no intelligence and analytic capability to see the reality? It's obvious that our presence in Iraq is of help to Al Qaida and other extremists, and destructive to the people and those who are trying to rebuild their country. It's obvious to the Iraqi people, by the polls, and should be to anyone else with any sense. Just who is in charge of determing our policy? Yes -- who indeed, and what are their purposes? Who benefits from war?

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leftdog said...

Robert, your Consortium News item on this is excellent. Thanks!

FearItself said...


I read your post and thought about blogging it myself. But upon fact-checking I decided not to and here's why.

I followed your link to a previous Consortium News post entitled, "Al-Qaeda’s Fragile Foothold" which, in turn, links to the infamous "Atiyah Letter" you reference here. In that letter you've excerpted the following passage"...

Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God’s permission.

...and claimed that by "the war" Atiyah is referring to our war in Iraq. I don't believe that conclusion is clear at all given the context of the sentence. Here is the same excerpt presented in context...

The most important thing is that you continue in your jihad in Iraq, and that you be patient and forbearing, even in weakness, and even with fewer operations; even if each day had half of the number of current daily operations, that is not a problem, or even less than that. So, do not be hasty. The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God’s permission. The best acts are those that last, however few they may be, provided that we guard against mistakes building up and that we have integration in the jihadist enterprise. The only thing that you have to fear is yourselves and your own mistakes, not your enemy. By God, your enemy will never defeat you as long as you are patient and steadfast, not having caused damage that is great or frequent; and you seek help in God. It is the grace of God and the grace of the Supporter, and the Almighty will not neglect us. "Now surely the help of God is nigh".

Within that context it would appear to me that "the war" being referenced here is Atiyah's jihad, not the US campaign in Iraq. It is the continuance of this jihad that suits Al Qaeda's interests.

This conclusion is further supported in the earlier "Zawahiri Letter" that you also quoted in "Al Qaeda's Fragile Foothold". The passage you quoted...

"The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal."

...was written within a very different context than you seem to suggest. In it, Zawahiri is describing his vision of the jihad in 4 proposed stages, the first of which is very clearly to expel the US from Iraq. I quote from the translated text of that letter:

So we must think for a long time about our next steps and how we want to attain it, and it is my humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals:

The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq.

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

There is no doubt that this amirate will enter into a fierce struggle with the foreign infidel forces, and those supporting them among the local forces, to put it in a state of constant preoccupation with defending itself, to make it impossible for it to establish a stable state which could proclaim a caliphate, and to keep the Jihadist groups in a constant state of war, until these forces find a chance to annihilate them.

The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.

As you can see, according to this letter the jihad will continue even after the primary goal of expelling the US is achieved. So, again, it's the continuance of the jihad, not the US occupation, that is said to be in Al Qaeda's interests. So you can see why I have some problems with your conclusions.

Before I go, I'd like to add that these are not the ravings of some right-wing flamer. I'm very much on your side here and agree with you 100% about the war and damage it will do to the world. I just don't believe you're approaching the subject from the right angle in this case.

It seems to me that you may have taken the bait and led your readers to a series of documents that actually support the Bush Administration's position.

That alone wouldn't be a bad thing necessarily if it were still the truth. But the possibility that these letters are forgeries, black propaganda planted for our amusement and befuddlement has been raised more than once, in fact. So, it can be argued that we're doing ourselves no favors by basing our anti-war arguments on these documents. Please take note.

I usually enjoy your work and hope you do continue to fight the good fight.

Take care and please excuse the lengthy response. I'm long-winded.