15 February, 2007

A tough year for Bin Laden

Some interesting thoughts on Afghanistan and how it fits into the overall war. From Stratfor:

A new audiotape surfaced Tuesday from al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In this latest message, al-Zawahiri pledges allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who he calls the leader of the worldwide jihadist movement. Even more striking, there is no mention whatsoever of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. This suggests that al Qaeda has been weakened to the point that a major shift in the leadership of the wider jihadist movement is under way. There is no proof that bin Laden is dead, but he is certainly missing in action...

These circumstances have created a situation that has allowed Mullah Omar to reassert himself as the leader of the jihadists...

In fact, the Taliban resurgence to a great degree has been made possible by the renewed al Qaeda commitment to the Taliban insurgency. Now that bin Laden is no longer leading al Qaeda, and with the Taliban revived as a major force, al-Zawahiri has no choice but to acknowledge Mullah Omar as the supreme jihadist leader. Al Qaeda's dependency on the Taliban (as opposed to the other way around) will create a struggle over operational planning and allocation of resources -- directly impacting the network's global reach.

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