Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Be careful what you ask for

Those who are comparing the Iraq War to Vietnam and are calling for the immediate return of our troops will be comforted to know they have an important ally -- al Qaeda's number two man Ayman al-Zawahri:

WASHINGTON --In a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader said the United States "ran and left their agents" in Vietnam and the jihadists must have a plan ready to fill the void if the Americans suddenly leave Iraq.

"Things may develop faster than we imagine," Ayman al-Zawahri wrote in a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy. ... We must be ready starting now."

Senior U.S. military commanders have said that Iraqi security forces are improving significantly and some U.S. forces could return home early next year. Yet skeptics have raised concerns about whether such statements simply let the insurgency know how long they must wait for the U.S. to leave.

In a letter taking up 13 typed pages in its English translation, al-Zawahri also recommended a four-stage expansion of the war that would take the fighting to neighboring Muslim countries.

"It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established ... in the heart of the Islamic world," al-Zawahri wrote.

The letter laid out his long-term plan: expel the Americans from Iraq, establish an Islamic authority and take the war to Iraq's secular neighbors, including Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The final stage, al-Zawahri wrote, would be a clash with Israel, which he said was established to challenge "any new Islamic entity."

Whether a fragmented al Qaeda still has the means to carry out these lofty goals is unknown. But this letter underscores the importance of our mission in Iraq and how crucial it is for us to stay the course. We can't afford to cut and run and if we do the whole world will face the repercussions.

Al-Qaida No. 2: U.S. 'ran' from Vietnam

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