"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Letters from Al Qaeda leaders show Iraqi effort is in disarray

From Billl Roggio at The Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda's senior leadership has lost confidence in its commander in Iraq and views the situation in the country as dire, according to a series of letters intercepted by Multinational Forces Iraq earlier this year.

The letters, which have been sent exclusively to The Long War Journal by Multinational Forces Iraq, are a series of communications between Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. These letters were intercepted by Coalition forces in Baghdad on April 24, 2008. One of the letters written by Zawahiri is dated March 6, 2008.

Just how bad is it for Al Qaeda in Iraq now vice in March.

An operative captured on Aug. 21 said the group has "lost the overall fight" and suffers from "extreme financial difficulties." Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq do "not presently have any long time plan and are only focused on short time fighting," the operative told US forces.

Another operative, also captured on Aug. 21, said "foreign fighters in Iraq are on the brink of extinction and the group's "biggest concern right now is where to sleep at night without being arrested."....

Throughout Iraq, recruiting is difficult if not impossible. "The main problem is that al Qaeda in Iraq has lost support of the people in Iraq," one captured operative said. [emphasis added]

The significance of these findings cannot be overstated. For an insurgency to exist and proliferate, it needs three main things:

First and foremost, an insurgency needs an unassailable base, that is, a place from which insurgents and leaders sleep, plan future activities, and provide logistical support to the network. From the above we get Al Qaeda no longer enjoys an unassailable base and are not only not planning future activities, but are just trying to find a place to sleep.

Secondly, an insurgency needs at least the tacit support of the population. Tacit support is either allowing the insurgents to operate in a region out of fear of indifference or actively supporting an insurgent. Due to Al Qaeda extreme form of Islam and cruel punishment of members who did not obey this extreme form of Islam, Al Qaeda in Iraq lost its popular support. The surge of American forces and later Iraqi forces gave those who were fearful the backbone to confront Al Qaeda. The successful Awakening movement in Al Anbar thus quickly spread to the rest of Iraq. Al Qaeda lost its popular and tacit support from the population. This fact feeds back into the first tenet which is an insurgency needs an unassailable base. Without popular support, Al Qaeda also lost its unassailable base.

Finally, all insurgencies need external support. Iran is not providing for Al Qaeda and from the sounds of it, neither is Al Qaeda's Zawahiri as he no longer trusts Al Qaeda's in Iraq's Commander. Letters have gone unanswered as have requests for information. Al Qaeda in Pakistan is also being pounded every few days by Predator strikes which limits the support this level of command can give to Al Qaeda in Iraq. They are now trying to stay alive themselves much less plan detailed future operations for the network.

Al Qaeda made Iraq its central front of its terror war. It lost this battle not only against the Shia dominated Iraqi government, but more importantly among the Sunni minority population because it could not provide victories against the Shia dominated government and began a cruel abuse of its perceived power in the region.

Now that Al Qaeda in Pakistan is being pursued more vigorously, Al Qaeda in general will lose more and more popular support in this region. We are already seeing this as tribal jirgas form to rid themselves of Taliban influence and fighters. The difference in Pakistan right now is the Taliban are able to strike back effectively against these jirgas. They lost this ability in Al Anbar, Iraq which resulted in Al Qaeda in Iraq's eventual collapse.

A surge of US forces into Afghanistan will yield similar results in Afghanistan. A push by Pakistani forces into the FATA/NWFP regions in Pakistan will limit Al Qaeda's last unassailable base.

The spring of 2009 is going to be an interesting time as the snow melts in this region and all forces are rested up to begin the next phase of the battle.

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