Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is Al-Qaeda taking a page out of the Hezbollah state-within-a-state playbook?

Tehran Times (Reuters):
Al-Qaeda wants to build a political operation in Iraq to broaden its campaign against the U.S.-backed government, a top U.S. general said on Wednesday.

Citing intelligence mostly gathered since the death of al Qaeda's former leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June, Major General William Caldwell said the militant group appeared to be refining its approach beyond bombings and beheadings.

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq wants to present itself as a legitimate organization and is striving to increase its operational power by building a political base with a military wing," Caldwell told a news briefing.
. . .
He said the militant group was producing propaganda to exploit Iraqi anger over high unemployment, poor security and unreliable supplies of electricity and fuel, and turn it against the government and its U.S. backers.

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq, through the media and other grassroots propaganda, will promote a theme that portrays the Sunnis as under attack by coalition forces, and the government of Iraq as being corrupt," he said.
. . .
"Al-Qaeda in Iraq realizes killing of innocent Iraqi civilians has damaged their public support and is working to reverse that perception.

By no means does it mean they intend to stop creating sectarian violence, but rather change the perception," he said.

Hezbollah's two wing strategy:
NABATIYEH, Lebanon — Two days after agreeing to a cease-fire to end 34 days of fighting with Israeli forces, Hezbollah deployed its army of social workers and engineers throughout this southern Lebanese city.

They visited wrecked homes and businesses, surveyed damage, gave compensation estimates and coordinated relief efforts with city officials. "Hezbollah workers were here even before the bombing stopped," said Mustafa Badreddine, 50, the mayor. "They have offices here. They have municipal resources. And the people trust them."

The Shiite Muslim militia's network of social workers serving its mostly Shiite following rivals the group's military component. The assistance is a cornerstone of Hezbollah's strategy to gain popular support.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the group's leader, has pledged to help rebuild the homes lost during the month-long war. He didn't specify the source of the funding. Hezbollah also is helping residents coordinate reconstruction efforts with assessments and contractors, Badreddine said.
. . .
On Tuesday, the second day of the cease-fire, Nahle said Hezbollah workers visited his ruined home, surveyed the damage and promised to call soon to tell him how to receive money for repairs.

As a backhoe chewed through the remains of his home, Nahle said the destruction he suffered was worthwhile. "Sayyed Hassan gave us a victory," he said, referring to Nasrallah's honorary title. "We beat the strongest army in the Middle East. Even if they kill our women and children and parents, we will still support him."

Like its military wing, which relies on secrecy to prevent infiltration by outside agents, Hezbollah engineers avoid contact with strangers. They were not seen when reporters toured the city.

Badreddine explained how they work. He said a team of up to five workers is assigned to a city district. They coordinate efforts with a local contractor and city officials. Workers at the contracting firm declined an interview request. They said only designated Hezbollah leaders are authorized to speak to the press.

After visiting sites and making assessments, the workers connect residents with contractors, who begin rebuilding, Badreddine said. He said the Hezbollah teams out-hustle and out-finance government officials working on the same task. "The government is waiting for Hezbollah to give them the information," the mayor said. "If you let the government do it, half the money will go into their pockets."

Are Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah prepared to allow a state of normalcy where people are not dependent upon them, can take care of themselves, and have a central government strong enough to maintain order, protect people and property, and provide basic public services?

And where is the money coming from? If you don't create wealth you must be getting from someone.



Blogger Insipid Chagrin said...

Money's obviously being handed out by Iran. But their discipline is quite, quite astounding. All things aside, they're taking on more and more hues of the capitalist modern networked organization - decentralized command and control, nominated spokespeople, key messages, a coherent PR strategy and CSR programmes. Isn't globalization wonderful??

5:10 PM  
Blogger Ros said...

What are the chances that the money being handed out isn't coming from Iran, rather from the counterfeiting equipment that Iran supplied Hezbollah with in the past?

If it is, whose economy does it hurt, the US or Lebanon?

8:18 AM  

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