The indispensable Bill Roggio reports on the State of Jihad for 2008.
Iraq smells like roses. The counterinsurgency doctrine written by Petraeus and implemented by Odierno succeeded in turning around a situation that seemed hopeless two years ago. Green Zone control was turned over to Iraq this week. Al Qaeda has been crushed. Muqtada al Sadr is still going to Ayatollah school in Iran, while the Sadrist forces have been restrained by Iraq government forces. The peace is fragile, but should be in the capabilities of Iraq to maintain.
Pakistan smells like a chemical fire. Musharraf left office to be replaced by an elected president. Almost all the Pashtun tribal areas in the FATA and NWFP are under Taliban and al Qaeda control, and the Taliban insurgency is spreading to neighboring provinces. The Taliban insurgency has had ties to Pakistani intelligence forces (especially the ISI, or Inter-Service Intelligence agency) since it was founded, and this shows no sign of abating. With ISI complicity, an al Qaeda affiliated group conducted the Mumbai massacre. This has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war and will likely lead to India attacking terror camps in Pakistani controlled parts of Kashmir, while NATO and US forces attack al Qaeda redoubts in the Taliban controlled parts of Pakistan. This will not stabilize Pakistan, which is quickly deteriorating toward failed state status, in which a state is no longer able to enforce its laws within its borders. Jihad attacks against other countries are very popular with the people of Pakistan. When prosperous older men marry up to four wives, who is left to marry the young men and what will those unmoored young men do to regain their sense of honor and belonging? Even if it doesn’t turn into a failed state the large number of unmarried, militant young men who buy into the ideology of Jihad promises danger from Pakistan.
Afghanistan has the heavy smell of an imminent storm. The main supply line goes through the Taliban controlled parts of Pakistan and convoys are regularly attacked. Al Qaeda and Taliban killers have safe bases and camps across the border in Pakistan and Iran, run the heroin smuggling gangs in Afghanistan, and are gaining political control in some provinces. The Taliban and al Qaeda continue to kill Afghan citizens, though their attacks on NATO forces have been mostly ineffective. This is not to say they are pussycats. They are still ruthless killers. It is not for nothing that Pashtun tribesmen have long been known as the world’s finest light infantrymen. Suicide bombing, once unthinkable, has come to Afghanistan. The counterinsurgency doctrine that was so successful with Iraq’s tribes will have to be adapted to the Afghan tribes, and then the Karzai’s government may expand its authority outside of Kabul.
India woke up and smelled the coffee this year. The Mumbai attacks shut down a major city for almost three days and made obvious the virulent hatred that powers the Jihad, as well as the incompetence of the Indian security forces. India and Pakistan have been brought to the brink of war by this attack, which was at the hands of Lashkar e Taiba with the assistance of Pakistan’s ISI.
Somalia smells like a flaming lake of human excrement from Dante’s Inferno. A few years ago it had become a full-on terrorist state, until Ethiopian troops rolled in and drove the al Qaeda allied As Shabaab out of Mogadishu. Now As Shabaab has requested full AQ affiliate status, Somalia has become a destination for the preachers and recruiters of Jihad. As pirates operate freely from its ports, Somalia is poised for another descent into total chaos.
Iran continues to smell like gunpowder. The state sponsor of global terror nears the finish line in its nuclear weapon development program. The rest of the world has no plan to do anything about it, and will do nothing. Iran continues to threaten to destroy Israel and the US. Iran lost in Iraq when the Sadrist forces were defeated. Iran’s Shiite proxy Hezbollah gained a place in the government of Lebanon, while its Sunni proxy in Israel, Hamas, took control of Gaza.
Yemen smells like Pakistan, or worse. As Roggio reports, “After Pakistan, Yemen is considered to be one of the largest havens for al Qaeda. Many powerful elements within Yemen’s government support al Qaeda’s presence. Thousands of Yemeni fighters returned from Iraq since mid-2007. Many have served in militias sponsored by the government to fight opposition groups. Yemen routinely frees jailed al Qaeda members.” The country where the USS Cole was bombed elected in August a bin Laden loyalist as its president.
Syrian terrorists and terror sites have been susceptible to counter-terror raids this year. It smells like napalm in the morning, small victories. The US raided an Al Qaeda camp in Syria this year. Someone blew up Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mugniyah. And an Israel bomber run destroyed a nuclear laboratory site that Syria had built in secret with assistance from North Korea.
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Where US forces are able to work with a mostly friendly government and keep a low media profile, for example Phillipines, Indonesia and Algeria, the tide of Jihad can be turned back. Where the US cannot operate, such as Yemen and the Pakistani tribal regions, the Jihad threat grows very dangerous. Where the media throngs to cover military actions in the most sensationalist way possible, Jihad gains its greatest victories. al Qaeda’s global Jihad cannot win militarily against military opposition but only against those who cannot or will not fight it, such as in Pakistan and Yemen. AQ does not plan to win militarily against the “Crusaders” and “Byzantines,” as they call us, but in the media, by spreading anti-American and anti-Jewish propaganda via the useful fools of the multi-culturalist, morale massacring world media, who giddily believe the worst of any major country and romanticize the most savage behavior as long as the story is served with a side of Edward Said and Frantz Fanon.
US Civilian military leadership needs to keep its head in the fight, for political distractions are part of the enemy’s strategy. The pattern for military victory has been demonstrated in Iraq, and the long term strategy is to reinvigorate our moral strength by going back to our roots as a people. The Obama administration shows signs of keeping the winning military strategy, but it is the left’s programs of the last 100 years that have separated us from our roots, and it is the conservative, classical liberal tradition in America that will restore us to them.