Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

BIN LADEN SCREWS THE POOCH?....Juan Cole has some good news. He says that Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape helps us more than it helps al-Qaeda:

Bin Laden's intervention in Iraq was hamfisted and clumsy, and will benefit the United States and the Shiites enormously. Most Iraqi Muslims, Sunni or Shiite, dislike the Wahhabi branch of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia, and with which Bin Laden is associated. Nationalistic Iraqis will object to a foreigner interfering in their national affairs.

....Bin Laden as much as declared Grand Ayatollah Sistani an infidel. But Sistani is almost universally loved by the 65% of Iraqis who are Shiites, and is widely respected among many Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, as well. Bin Laden, the Saudi engineer, makes himself look ridiculous trying to give a fatwa against the Grand Ayatollah of Najaf. If anything, to have al-Qaeda menacing the Shiites in this way would tend to strengthen the American-Shiite alliance.

....If Bin Laden had been politically clever, he would have phrased his message in the terms of Iraqi nationalism. By siding with the narrowest sliver of Sunni extremists, he denied himself any real impact....It appears that Bin Laden is so weak now that he is forced to play to his own base, of Saudi and Salafi jihadists, some of whom are volunteer guerrillas in Iraq. They are the only ones in Iraq who would be happy to see this particular videotape.

I hope he's right.

Kevin Drum 11:51 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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