American soldiers joined forces in Anbar Province , Iraq with locals who were tired of foreign fighters – al Qaeda-linked soldiers – who had come to run roughshod over the area Sunnis. It was a real alliance and it worked, for a while, until U.S. forces began to pull out, and the heavily Shiite-loaded government took over the mission of policing the country. The Sunni minority, once the rulers of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, were now the repressed minority under majority Shiite rule. But they surely didn’t want al Qaeda’s arrogant foreigners in their midst.
If there weren’t Americans and NATO allies roaming about in Afghanistan , the main “foreigners” – al Qeada fighters recruited from throughout the Islamic world –would be equally unwelcome. But NATO forces are just entirely too visible – religiously and culturally polar opposites to the indigenous populations – such that al Qaeda fighters can be a “necessary evil” in ousting the real aliens from deep under the Afghan skin. After all, Afghanistan is a land of tribal territories and local warlords; al Qaeda doesn’t fit particularly well into this paradigm. But Americans stick out even worse!
So as Americans continue to afford al Qaeda its Web-material and recruitment materials, as drones take out another village of innocents in the border region of Pakistan and trounce small villages in Afghan highlands, imposing “collateral damage” on civilians in search of high-ranking Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, al Qaeda clings to its anti-Western raison d’être. We were supposed to build roads, schools, hospitals and power grids. Oh well.
So what happens to countries when there are no NATO forces or ugly Americans to oust? What do local Islamic militants think about al Qaeda’s techniques where there aren’t any pink-skinned enemies to evict? CNN has been asking that exact question in “a two-year CNN investigative report into peace talks held between the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the Libyan Government which recently culminated in the LIFG, a militant jihadist group once close to Osama bin Laden, repudiating al Qaeda. ‘The Jihadi Code.’” November 10th, CNN.com
Technology has been America ’s “ace in the hole” when dealing with our enemies, and whatever plans may be put forward in the next few weeks, it appears that high tech weapons will be used even more. "‘We expect [close air support missions] to increase. As ground forces become more dispersed and separated from their supporting forces, air power is going to be that capability that allows them to have that kinetic or non-kinetic effect as required,'’ said Air Force Lt. Col. John Edwards, deputy chief of plans for the command, known as AFCENT… ‘Kinetic’ is the military's polite term for ‘explosive.'” Sphere.com (Nov. 20)
Unfortunately, that reliance on high tech weapons, because we couldn’t possibly deploy a large enough ground force, is a profoundly effective recruiting tool for al Qaeda and the Taliban: “‘The blind bombardment on [sic] civilian targets, night raids on people's houses, murder, tortures, bombardments on funeral and wedding ceremonies are some of the crimes the invaders have perpetuated during the past eight years,' said a Nov. 5 Taliban communiqué, according to a translation by the NEFA Foundation, which monitors extremist Web sites. Sphere.com