THE ROVING EYE Iran-bashing from al-Qaeda's corner
By Pepe Escobar
WASHINGTON - Seven years after bringing down steel buildings with jet fuel -
using planes as missiles - and outwitting the most high-tech air force and the
most protected airspace in the world for nearly two hours, the historic
al-Qaeda leadership is "celebrating" 9/11 with an hour-and-a-half video special
titled "Seven Years of Crusades".
Washington, meanwhile, is stepping up the revamped "war on terror" deep inside
Pakistani territory, with special forces commandos targeting the tribal areas.
While US corporate media are absolutely transfixed by Republican vice
presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a new war in the shadows seems destined
to acquire its own irreversible momentum. Investigative military historian
Gareth Porter (US
warned over raids in Pakistan Asia Times Online, September 10, 2008)
has already examined the deep disconnect between the George W Bush
administration and the US intelligence community. On top of it, al-Qaeda in
2008 is a vastly different enemy from the al-Qaeda of 2001.
The new video, "hosted" by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two, is a sort
of who's who talk show on the state of jihad around the world - in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Algeria, Palestine.
Qatar-based al-Jazeera got the video, showed only some short takes, and has
been unusually quiet about it - as if it didn't want to shock US sensibilities.
Same with Western corporate media. A version with German subtitles simply
disappeared from YouTube. It's as if this whole business - Osama bin Laden and
Zawahiri still at large, holed up in their mythical cave (with broadband and
video equipment) - was a recurrent bad dream.
The key point in the video is that Zawahiri accuses Iran and the US of being
partners in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Zawahiri also blasts Iraqi
Shi'ites for not launching a jihad in Iraq against the "Crusader occupier". In
his recent messages this is a recurrent theme: the "Persians" are the enemy of
the Arabs and they're part of the occupation of Iraq.
The enemy of my enemy is my enemy.
Seven years after 9/11, for all practical purposes, al-Qaeda remains the golden
motive that justifies the Bush administration threatening, invading, bombing or
occupying Muslim countries. But, in fact, al-Qaeda's top strategic enemy
nowadays, in a battle to seduce Muslim hearts and minds, are Shi'ites - be it
Tehran or Hezbollah - and not the US.
Similarities are eerie. Iran is part of Bush's "axis of evil" as well as
al-Qaeda's "axis of evil". The US tries very hard to pit Sunnis against
Shi'ites all over the Middle East while al-Qaeda also incites a war between
Sunnis and Shi'ites.
What Zawahiri is basically saying is that al-Qaeda - fundamentalist Saudi
Wahhabis - want a "long war" as much as the Bush administration and its
extension, Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Al-Qaeda's
birth was midwifed by US intelligence in Peshawar in Pakistan in the early
1980s; by the mid-1980s, president Ronald Reagan was ecstatic with his
mujahideen "freedom fighters". Fundamentalist al-Qaeda is as much against an
independent, nationalist, Shi'ite Iranian regime as the fundamentalist Bush
As for the "surge" in Iraq, it has now morphed into the surge in Afghanistan.
Bush is withdrawing only 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009, while adding
more to Afghanistan. So much for the so-called "success" of the Iraq "surge".
Top US commander in Iraq General David Petraeus told the Washington Post in
Baghdad that Iraq remains the "central front" for al-Qaeda. Petraeus is the new
head of Central Command starting this month. He will oversee Afghanistan and
Pakistan - and also Iran. He believes al-Qaeda's historical leadership remains,
in his words, "somewhere in the western border region of Pakistan".
Thus the recent attack by US special forces in the Pakistani tribal areas -
killing women and children as well as alleged "terrorists", and alienating the
tribals beyond any redemption.
We should expect more of the Petraeus method in Pakistan: high tech
counter-insurgency plus widespread bribes in cash. That was his methodology
during the "surge" in Iraq. The high-tech special ops - which killed a lot of
Sunni guerrilla leaders - revolved around a program called Tagging, Tracking
and Locating: in sum, a sophisticated assassination campaign. Robert Parry,
writing at consortiumnews.com, was one of the very few in US media to pinpoint
That's essentially what Petraeus is already implementing in Pakistan, against
the better judgement of the US intelligence community, with potentially
devastating consequences. Westerners never learn: any war against the fierce
Pashtun nation is essentially unwinnable.
The national security sweepstakes
Anyway, the Pentagon's "long War" - the remixed denomination of the "war on
terror" - lives on. With a new chapter in Pakistan, the pressing possibility of
an attack on Iran, a war for control of Eurasia, and a new cold war with
Russia. Not to mention the militarization of American life, and smashing any
form of dissent - as seen in the streets of St Paul, Minnesota, during the
Both the Barack Obama-Joe Biden and the McCain-Sarah Palin tickets avidly pose
to see who is tougher on terror. Both pay lip-service to national security.
Palin has been drafted by McCain with a key destination: to mobilize the rural
and suburban so-called "national security moms", terrified of slimy, dangerous
Muslims threatening their way of life.
But what if a Predator drone, under Petraeus orders, incinerated Zawahiri and
bin Laden - seven years too late? Absolutely nothing would change. Dozens of
new bin Ladens would rise from the ashes. Washington has done nothing to help
the desperate Afghan population or suggest an alternative for the neo-Taliban -
just as the billions of dollars showered on the Pakistani military have done
noting to help dire living conditions in Pakistan.
The only "winners" in this "long war" are, and will continue to be, selected
players in the gargantuan US military-industrial complex. That's the sorry
legacy of 9/11, seven years on.