Identity, my controversial bit
Some writers seem to be wondering about the Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi. Is it a fake or not. Some are even suggesting Zarqawi is no more then an arrangement of letters himself. And some people seem very very keen to vet opinion about it.
Who knows, what I do know is this: constructing identity is a collaborative affair. Does Osama Bin Laden care that a clandestine international terrorist ring is attributed to him or that he is accused of what might be other independent bombings? No, he doesn't seem to mind at all. In fact, just like the IRA and it's variant branches he colludes with his "opponents" by accepting "the credit" for missions accomplished. Do Pentagon senior officials mind that Osama might be dead already? No, they seem happy to claim he is still large as life and threatening as ever. Similarly, do Pentagon senior officials mind if rumours spread that Zarqawi is dead? Apparently not, it means their president can pretend to have knocked out a "key card". And does Zarqawi mind if people think he is dead? It appears he doesn't, perhaps it gives him cover.
And so while these two apparently antagonistic forces collaborate by agreeing to oust each other, ordinary people suffer. Very ordinary people who cannot be bothered playing the pomp and ceremony game or donning an outfit or taking "a side" or even a stand.
Very ordinary people who notice very odd things. Like how this seems to be at least the second "resistance" letter that has mysteriously made it's way into Pentagon hands. Like the one last year that the cpa published. The one from Zarqawi himself, apparently. And how Jim Lobe's article about last year's letter is disguised as a go at "the neocons" but all the same proposes the letter is authentic and that it's all about the Sunnis getting the Shia's. Teeheehee. I don't think anybody buys that line anymore:
We must repeat what we mentioned previously, that the majority of Muslims don't comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia. The sharpness of this questioning increases when the attacks are on one of their mosques, and it increases more when the attacks are on the mausoleum of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God honor him. My opinion is that this matter won't be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.
(excerpt this years letter)
Or like how Lobes article strangely mentions last years letter was on disc while another apparently knowledgeable piece published by the Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor about the same letter implies the whole thing was hand written, with a pen. And hand written by an educated Sunni-Baathist no less. Ahem. All the Sunnis fault the Jamestown Foundation tries to advise. And apparently among others the fault of the omg, hilarious, "immigrant mujahideen". What a stab in the dark that was from the Jamestown Foundation, infer the migrant population.
Or other things, like how the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi doesn't seem to be to Zarqawi at all but to someone else who is being asked to send Zarqawi greetings.
Or how, almost halfway through on page 6 the author seems to be proposing a democratic solution:
We don't want to repeat the mistake of the Taliban, who restricted participation in governance to the students and the people of Qandahar alone. They did not have any representation for the Afghan people in their ruling regime, so the result was that the Afghan people disengaged themselves from them. Even devout ones took the stance of the spectator and, when the invasion came, the amirate collapsed in days, because the people were either passive or hostile.
My goodness, doesn't that sound like disengaged populations all over the world.
Yeah, I think it's a big fat ill-spun fake. There ya go, that's what I think of the handiwork. Still it is a very well written letter. Very florid style. I rather like it, as a fiction piece.
Update: ok, I was just kidding around with my prognosis, either way it makes little difference. War is still wrong and the constitution and referendum are still riddled with loopholes and allegations of misconduct (ie if everything else is a fraud, why should one letter lift eyebrows). I actually find it more interesting that someone was going around approaching others for "opinion" re the letter. Particularly when bloggers were probably gearing up to focus on the referendum instead. If the letters faked, well funny haha. If it's real... well heh Zawahiri sounds like an interesting and astute bloke.