Abdel Bari Atwan is the editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. I’ve debated him on TV and radio shows a number of times. Let’s just say we don’t often see eye to eye.
But we do today. He is now acknowledging that Americans have been winning “the trust of certain tribal leaders” in Iraq and that “for the Iraqis the enemy has become al-Qaeda and not the occupying [American] forces.”
In his most recent audio tape, Osama bin Laden implies the same thing. Atwan calls that tape “possibly the most important message” in al-Qaeda’s history. “It is the first time that bin Laden recognizes the error committed by the members of his organization and in particular the excesses committed in Iraq,” he wrote. “For this he asks the Iraqi groups to turn over a new page and to re-start their collaboration with al-Qaeda.”
Atwan also acknowledges that in recent months the routing of al-Qaeda in Iraq has restored relative calm and stability to such areas of Iraq as the Sunni region once know as the Triangle of Death. This has won the Americans popularity with many Iraqis, Atwan noted.
“The latest mistake [made by al-Qaeda in Iraq] has been to try and confuse Jihad with the seizure of political power.” Al-Qaeda should not have announced the birth of the Islamic state of Iraq as they have done because in imposing its authority, it has completely alienated the Iraqis,” he said.
He added that this is the same mistake that Hamas has made in Gaza when it took power and then created an “Islamic Emirate of Gaza.”
“Right now Hamas, instead of fighting the Israelis, has had to think about guaranteeing electricity, water, jobs and security and in this way it has lost the trust of its citizens.”
There’s more here. Not much about any of this, of course, in the MSM.