There’s a lot to discuss in Zawahiri’s letter of 9th July.
Edited highlights for the really lazy:
1: There’s more to life than just murdering people (although, of course, that’s important as well). “Participation in governance” is also vital: if only as a way of achieving the “appeasement of Muslims“. Moreover, it is a necessity if the BinLadenists are not to be “surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them”.
2. The decapitation videos are extremely bad PR. Killing the Shia and attacking their mosques also plays very badly with the better part of the Muslim audience. Furthermore, it is a distraction from fighting the Americans. And in any case, given that the Iranians have many leading BinLadenists in custody, there’s a need to face up to the uncomfortable fact that they’ve got the BinLadenists by the balls. Therefore the final reckoning with the Shia must be put off until happier times. Until then, if Zarqawi really has to kill Shi’ites, can he at least stop telling everybody about it?
The real question, of course, is whether the BinLadenists will prosper, or wither, in system in which at least one source of legitimacy is the ballot box. The answer depends, as it always has, upon the extent to which a politically pluralist civil society develops and prospers in Iraq.
In short, the need for solidarity with Iraqi democrats and progressives remains urgent.