I have a short piece up at IVN:
Ideology is being replaced by realpolitik in the world political arena, with competition and cooperation between frenemies perhaps becoming the norm. The war on terror began on September 11, 2001 in New York City and Washington DC, where teams of terrorists professing a militant brand of Sunni Islamism killed thousands of Americans using commercial airliners, brought down the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and caused roughly $100 billion in direct and indirect economic damage and possibly $2 trillion in subsequent expenditures on military operations and security.
….By 2012, the global picture has drastically changed. Osama bin Laden is dead and his fanatical followers are able to operate freely only in the poorest, most remote or desolate regions of the earth – northern deserts of Mali, the lawless hinterlands of Yemen, Pakistan’s wild tribal belt and ruined villages in war-torn Syria. Instead of a laser-like focus on al Qaida, the next President will have to worry more about economic collapse in Europe, China bullying it’s neighbors over the South China Sea, civil wars in Mexico and Syria and Iran’s quest for the nuclear bomb.
Read the rest here.
This is a quick synopsis of an idea I am playing with lately.
It is of course, contingent. If Egypt takes a nasty turn and a post-Assad Syria falls to Salafi-Takfiri extremists ( creating a religious variant of the old Nasserite UAR alliance) we might be talking about a “Sunni Axis” with a radicalized Pakistan giving new life to transnational, revolutionary jihadism.
Without that , the prospects for al Qaida’s vision of political Islam look increasingly grim. As the the AQ strategist al-Suri noted, the loss of Afghanistan in 2001 as a secure base of operations, training ground and state sponsor was a heavy blow to the forces of radical Islamism. A lack of replacement after ten years is an embarrassing state of affairs for a militant movement whose political center of gravity in the Islamic world is the claim of doing God’s will against the infidel.