A Not-so-grand Strategy

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

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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6 Comments

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “3.) The obvious media blackout over the operations from the last few days”
    Suicide bombings with zero injuries don’t get a lot of press
    Stryker soldiers fend off suicide attacks during border town fight

  • USMC_Vet says:

    This is interesting:

    “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”.”

    This plays directly into a discussion I am currently in the middle of with a commenter (Here) who, in her protestation over ‘torture’ at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, seemingly refuses to acknowledge that the kind gentlemen in detention at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere are Islamic militants who subscribe to the WIF’s 1998 declaration of Jihad against Crusaders and Jews.
    Apparently lost on her is that these kind gentlemen merely find her useful at the moment, as good students of Lesson 18 are apt to be. Hopefully she will see (and this quote above should serve to assist) that, were she ever truly successful in her appeasement towards them and her opposition to the War on Terror, her usefulness will have run its course.
    Thanks for pointing to Thurwat al-Sinam today, Bill. Might just come in handy.
    Insofar as the above quote is concerned, AQ/Zarqawi will find success (in the West) only to the degree to which the Western media and political circles further their claims in this regard. It seems at time that the same referenced media and political circles are in fact ahead of Zarqawi to that end.
    If you ask me, it seems we (the infidel West) are left to fight a battle for Islamic ideology that is more appropriately waged by moderate Muslims worldwide. But that is a much longer discussion than a comment section allows.

  • A reader says:

    Paraphrasing Zarkawi’s rantzine:

    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”.

    Ah-HA!!! NOW I get it! When Islamic supremacists seethe about a crusade to destroy Islam they don’t mean the troops and tanks and AC-130s. On the contrary! It’s those Bush speeches calling Islam a “religion of peace.” They think it’s all a disinfo plot to mislead people about the true nature of their beloved religion of totalitarian violence.

    What a hoot!

  • vucommodore says:

    Zarqawi’s magazine? LOL. So he has time for Jihad and writing a magazine at the same time? Must be a really talented guy.
    Seriosuly, how does anybody know for sure who actually wrote this?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “Point 3 is odd, as terrorist attacks are the main story from Iraq. Zarqawi doesn’t elaborate so it is difficult to discern his disappointment over the “media blackout”.”
    There is, at least in Al Queda’s eyes, a fairly substantial battle that has been raging in Rawa since saturday. As far as I can tell, no major news media outside of Army times is reporting it.
    It would appear that the Stryker Brigades have enlarged their AOR as far South as the Euphrates River.
    //www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-983444.php

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    My readers are always a step ahead of me. See today’s post….

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis