Al Qaeda in Iraq and Zarqawi now appears to recognize the futility of conducting military operations alone to achieve victory in Iraq. The SITE Institute reports the recently released publication of Zarqawi’s magazine, Thurwat al-Sinam, discusses grand strategy, which extends beyond pure combat operations.
This issue is the first edition of the publication to explicitly reference military strategy, delineating five sectors or “fields” of jihad: military, security and intelligence, medical, information, and economic. Throughout the issue, the authors reiterate that if the mujahideen focus only on military operations, regardless of their successes in battle, they will lose the jihad on other fronts. They provide examples such as Afghanistan and Bosnia wherein an alleged military victory by the mujahideen was overturned in the eyes of the international community because the mujahideen neglected other sectors of warfare. Of particular interest as a non-military based threat to the mujahideen is the creation of a “peaceful Islam” which has “nothing to do with the original religion” and is spread by “information media all over the earth” in the hopes that “the infidels will succeed in this which they could not do militarily”.
The dilemma for al Qaeda is that it is an overwhelmingly military organization, whose finances are specifically set up to support military operations, weapons acquisitions, training, recruitment and infrastructure. There is very little energy devote to the softer aspects of grand strategy – wining the hearts and minds in the areas of economics [jobs, business, education, etc.] and humanitarian care. Al Qaeda cannot match the West’s superiority in these areas. And even if they tried, their ideological makeup makes the prospects success unlikely. The rejection of al Qaeda by local Iraqis sympathetic to their cause makes this clear.
The only advantage al Qaeda has in the fight is the skepticism of the media towards the American application of power. Yet Zarqawi has expressed his displeasure towards ‘friendly’ media in the past, and in a recent communiqu
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