“Al Qaeda has been decimated…Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat…” — Barack Obama, November 2012
“Al Qaeda controls more territory than ever in Middle East,” by Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland for CNN, January 7 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
(CNN) — From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.
Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.
The focus of al Qaeda’s leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri acknowledged as much in his 2001 autobiography, “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” when he explained that the most important strategic goal of al Qaeda was to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world, explaining that, “without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.”
Now al-Zawahiri is closer to his goal than he has ever been. On Friday al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq seized control of parts of the city of Falluja and parts of the city of Ramadi, both of which are located in Iraq’s restive Anbar Province.
Anbar is home to predominantly Sunni Muslims, who feel that that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki treats the Sunnis as second-class citizens.
Sectarian tensions in Anbar recently burst into several all-out revolts against the government, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as the al-Qaeda affiliate there is known, quickly seized the opportunity to notch some battlefield victories….