Al Qaeda's quagmire

NY Post Editorial:

For evidence of how quickly the tide of war can turn, look no further than Osama bin Laden's latest epistle to his al Qaeda underlings in Iraq.

The theme of the audiotape, broadcast on al-Jazeera TV last week, is purportedly the need to avoid "division" in the prosecution of jihad.

The not-so-subtle message: You guys are screwing up - big time.

From his bloody-handed perspective, he's right to be worried.

Both American and civilian casualties in Iraq are on track to drop drastically for the second straight month - a direct result of the sharp rise in Iraqi cooperation with U.S. forces that has resulted from Gen. David Petraeus' so-called surge strategy.

"Among the things which sadden the Muslims and delight the unbelievers," bin Laden admits, "is the hindering of some combat operations against the enemy" due to, among other things, "treachery."

What's spurring the "treachery?"

It seems that some jihadists haven't been pursuing "unity" or "righteousness" as well as they should.

That's putting it mildly: The rampant thuggery of al Qaeda and likeminded jihadists was a prime factor in flipping a growing number of Sunni sheiks and neighborhoods to the Coalition side - once U.S. troops could offer security.

Americans should be careful not to take too much comfort from bin Laden's sudden candor. His message, more than anything, is a renewed call to arms - and it just might work.

The current troop surge, after all, appears to be working precisely because American commanders learned from the mistakes of the first three years of the war.

There's no reason to believe that al Qaeda can't adapt just as well.

The Iranian-backed Shia militias, meanwhile, remain powerful and defiant (although there are signs that Iraq's Shias are becoming just as fed up with them as the Sunnis are of al Qaeda).

But bin Laden's admission that events in Iraq are not going as planned is nonetheless remarkable.

Until very recently, recall, the common refrain - at least in Democratic circles - was that America's invasion of Iraq played right into al Qaeda's hands.


Iraq has become a fly trap for al Qaeda's jihadis. It is where they go to die, not to train as some critics of the war have alleged. Now they are also running short of their inventory of human bomb ordinance. Al Qaeda was losing badly in 2005 when Iraqis went to the polls and voted against them al Qaeda in huge numbers.

Their response was the Samarra bombing of the golden dome mosque and an attempt to spur a sectarian civil war. We have shown that by protecting the Iraqis and targeting al Qaeda that the so called "sectarian civil war" was a product of al Qaeda strategy and not an inherent conflict.

If a Democrat had been president, we very likely would have lost the war at that point. Since President Bush gave Gen. Petraeus and his surge a chance, we are in a position to win. It would be a mistake to throw that away by electing Democrats.


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