Friday, June 27, 2003

When we step back, the broader picture of the U.S.-al Qaeda war becomes clearer. It appears to us that both sides are gearing up for a summer offensive. Each, for its own reasons, is going to try to engage in operations in a series of theaters, including in the United States. This does not mean the offensives will be successful. It does mean we can expect complex action from both sides on a broad geographic scale. These need not be individual large-scale operations, but collectively they will constitute significant attempts to get an advantage in the war.


The conquest of Iraq has created an interesting dynamic in the war. Both sides are now under pressure to launch summer offensives. Al Qaeda must demonstrate its continued viability.

The United States must exploit the victory in Iraq and disrupt al Qaeda operations globally. This indicates to us that both sides will carry out intense operations over the next few months.

If we look at the world through al Qaeda's eyes, the period since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has consisted of a series of significant reversals. First, a U.S. offensive dislodged the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Second, the hoped-for insurrection among the Islamic masses did not materialize. The primary goal of the Sept. 11 assault -- to prompt a rising in the Muslim world designed to create an Islamic regime in at least one country, to serve as al Qaeda's anchor -- did not take place. Finally, Iraq was occupied. The Baathist regime was no friend of al Qaeda, except in the sense that the two shared an enemy. Nevertheless, it appears in the Islamic world that al Qaeda has cost Iraq its freedom.

In short, al Qaeda has little to show for Sept. 11 except significant losses and failure. If this trend continues, as we argued in our second-quarter forecast, al Qaeda will begin an irreversible disintegration process, with support personnel concluding that the organization has ceased to be operational and therefore beginning to fall away. It is insufficient for al Qaeda's network to assert operational capability; it must demonstrate this capability...

It also means that if the United States makes headway, al Qaeda will have to come to life. First, if the United States is effective, it will have to protect itself. Second, if the United States is effective, al Qaeda will face a use-it-or-lose-it situation. If its assets are being rolled up, there is little incentive for the network to continue to patiently preserve those assets. It is paradoxical, but in the short run, the more effective the U.S. operation is, the greater the danger from al Qaeda becomes...

Read the whole thing here.

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