Al Qaeda fooled us. Yes, they are a deadly menace. And they must be defeated. But they fooled us into believing they are something that they are not. And that was their first victory over us. And, taking the bait, falling for their ruse, we’ve been blowing it ever since.
Ethiopia’s recent rout of the Islamists in Somalia should clear things up for us.
Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said the port city of Kismayo fell after the government and its allies drove its rivals from the capital Mogadishu, where he ordered residents to turn in their weapons or face forced disarmament.
“Kismayo is already in the hands of the government. The Islamists have run away … the airport and the seaport are free. They are still some mopping up operations,” Gedi told AFP in Mogadishu on Monday.
He also urged the African Union (AU) to deploy peacekeepers, a move that was opposed by the Islamic Courts Union after its fighters took Mogadishu in June and extended a hold over the south and centre of the lawless country.
“The Islamists were so angry at people who were shouting ‘We don’t need you, we need the government’ … they opened fire and killed the two,” said Leileila Sheikh Adam, a resident of the town.
She added that Kismayo was very tense, since local clan militia looted the Islamists’ headquarters and took weapons.
“We now see government forces and the Ethiopians in Kismayo … they have taken control of the town and there are celebrations everywhere,” said Mohamed Bini, another resident. —Agence France Press, Jan. 1, 2007
Why are the Somalis celebrating in Kismayo and Mogadishu? They are celebrating in Somalia for the same reason they were celebrating in Afghanistan in late 2001.The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, like the American invasion in Afghanistan 5 years ago, liberated a country from an illegitimate government: A Sharia government of fanatical young men that rule through shot gun intimidation and weirdo moralism.
Taking out the Islamic Court Union, like taking out the Taliban, was a relatively easy military mission. Which unveils Bush’s lie that the war against Islamo-Fascism needs to be a long, long war. Unfortunately, his vague, ill-advised “war on terrorism” is an endless mission (complete with unconstitutional wire tapping). In contrast, a focused mission on the illegitimate buffoons who declare jihad (as the ICU did from Mogadishu against Ethiopia) and as Qaeda did from Taliban controlled Afghanistan—is clearly not much of a task. The Ethiopians proved this in their weeklong rout of the ICU. The U.S. proved the same thing in Afghanistan, and had we stayed focused on Afghanistan…
All the booming rhetoric of people like bin Laden and Zawahiri rings hollow when we see—as the Ethiopians have shown (and as we once showed in Afghanistan)—how flimsy these military cults really are.
The ICU, with the typical, hollow bluster of macho goon squads, have now retreated to the far-flung woods of southwest Somalia—in a nowhere land between Somalia and Kenya. The Taliban, similarly, retreated to the mountainous netherworld between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There’s something symbolic about these retreats to uninhabited places. Check it out: In contrast, the popular Viet Cong “retreated” to the cities in South! Vietnam. Certainly, legitimate guerrilla movements begin in the hills. They must build up and train—far from the purview of tyrannical, watchful governments. But once they begin their move into the towns and cities, where oppressed populations cheer them in secret—it’s there they are supposed to stay.
Last week’s public cheers at the ICU’s slinking exit doesn’t bode well for world jihadist revolution. And, my god, the public was welcoming back the warlords! (Hopefully, the African Union will heed Somalia’s call for back up.)
There would be similar celebrating in Khartoum, and a similar retreat, if former bin Laden ally, Sudanese President al-Bashir and his Janjaweed acolytes in Darfur, came under fire from liberators. Am I advocating invading Sudan? I wish I could. Too bad about that Iraq thing.
Iraq. Iraq is nothing like Somalia or Afghanistan. In Iraq, with the exception of some staged CIA celebrations and statue smashing, the country immediately degenerated into more war. Why? Well, I’m certainly not going to make the case that Saddam Hussein’s government was legitimate, but his government was a government—as opposed to the (obviously) fake bluster that props up the fakey-fake Islamo fascist movement.
If we were really serious about taking on al Qaeda, we would seek out, attack, and isolate their unpopular, “bases” of operation.
Bases of operation? Like all put ons—corporate slogans, TV commercials, Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act—you can simply look to the language and then safely conclude that the exact opposite is true. As in: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda means “the base.” The base my ass. Even funnier. When Al Qaeda began in August, 1988, they called themselves al-Qaeda al-Askariya, “the military base.” The movement has no legitimate base. Military base? These are little boys playing army.
The jihadists have a fantastical military strategy. It is this: Create jihadist military fronts and bog down the apostates in wars of liberation. The fantasy is based on bin Laden’s “experience” in Afghanistan “fighting the Soviets.” There are a few flaws in this “strategy,” which is precisely why it failed them in Afghanistan in 2001, and why al Qaeda was in complete disarray after the U.S. invasion there.
Flaw #1: Bin Laden’s jihadists played a miniscule, after-the-fact role in the nationalist, Afghan war against the Soviets. Bin Laden superimposed his jihadist agenda on the massive, nationalist Afghani fight against the Soviets, retroactively writing himself into its history. (At the time, in the mid-80s, Bin Laden’s jihadists were actually nicknamed the “Brigade of the Ridiculous” by the legit Afghan forces, under leaders like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.)
Flaw #2: They don’t have enough pull to get “jihadists” from all over the Middle East to show up and support them. If it was a legitimate movement—they would. The ICU —in the bin Laden model—called for expats to come join them. This is redolent of bin Laden’s original lie. He didn’t draw a significant number of non-Afghanis to the anti-Soviet war.
Flaw #3: (And this is a big one) The reason Afghanistan beat the Soviets? The U.S. military backed them. The only “jihadist” movement with state backing is Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria. But let’s be honest. Hezbollah does not share al Qaeda’s fantasy of world domination. Hezbollah is caught up in a provincial power struggle for Lebanon. And Hezbollah’s popular support comes more from its cultural Shiite identity politics and its ground war with Israel.
Bin Laden’s rap has always been that the U.S. is a paper tiger. That the U.S. does not have the stamina for a toe-to-toe war with the jihadists. Unfortunately, we’ve “proven” him right by instigating this mess in Iraq and losing control. But Iraq is not really a war with the jihadists. The U.S. is trying to manage a civil war. As in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the jihadists are peripheral.
The Ethiopians have shown us that we were stupid to take our eyes off the real war: A war against an ephemeral, illegitimate movement that collapses in a week.
Yes, the ICU will eventually attack from the woods, but with little legitimacy. Had we stayed focused in Afghanistan and helped Karzai, the Taliban’s attacks would have also proven illegitimate. And so would any Qaeda attacks on America. Unfortunately, our off the mark war in Iraq has lent future attacks on America an air of legitimacy.