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Al Zawahiri: Available Upon Request - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s second-in-command has recently made himself available to the media upon request.

Recently he has emerged commenting on the cartoon crisis and its insult to the Islamic religion, the latest developments of the Palestinian issue and the siege in Gaza, as well as Iraq. Al Zawahiri has also tackled the region’s inflation crisis.

However, the most dangerous thing that al Zawahiri said in his last internet conference, and what I consider to be adding fuel to the fire was his statement that Iran’s objectives being clear, and they are “the annexation of southern Iraq and the east of the Arabian Peninsula” as well as strengthening ties to its followers in southern Lebanon”.

The danger of al Zawahiri’s speech is that it coincides with a period of acute tensions within the region; one of the most important reasons behind it is the unprecedented Iranian extension, which has been taking place since the days of the Shah. Consequently, al Zawahiri wants to play the sectarian chord. This is an issue that must be realized, rejected and ignored.

Conflict with Iran and working against its subversive activities within Arab countries, while it tries to manipulate the social structure within these states with methods that have become obvious to all, cannot completely justify al Zawahiri’s words or his threat to Tehran.

Al Zawahiri is a terrorist and we must not forget that. However, what we have here is an important lesson, which is that those who play with the fires of terrorism, sectarianism and the exploitation of minorities in order to achieve their objectives will always end up getting burned themselves, which brings up the question of is Tehran learning from this lesson?

Many reports have revealed that some elements of the Al Qaeda organization including the offspring of Osama Bin Laden sought refuge in Tehran after the fall of the Taliban regime. Security information also revealed that the Al-Muhiya bombings in Riyadh were executed with instructions from leading al Qaeda figure Saif al-Adel from Iran.

And here is al Zawahiri today, al Qaeda’s second-in-command focusing on Iran and attacking it, in an effort for him and al Qaeda to find a ray of hope to recruit and polarize new terrorists in order to remain in the spotlight by playing the sectarian card. Here the lesson is not to promote or exasperate sectarianism, because the resulting fire will burn all in its way.

And this is what many have cautioned in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime to the targeting of Al Sahwah councils (Awakening councils) at present. The same holds true of Lebanon, where I have heard from some circles that the majority in Lebanon fear the most out of the current ongoing conflict is the agitation and emergence of Sunni extremism in response to some of the actions of Hezbollah.

Al Zawahiri’s latest speech is an indication that the region is still not detached from this filthy war, and God forbid it ever erupting, which is something we consistently warn of.

We reject Al Zawahiri’s latest speech bearing in mind that al Qaeda has done more harm to the Islamic religion and Muslims in general and the Sunnis in particular than any other party.

Besides the severity of al Zawahiri’s recent speech and the necessity to deny and condemn it, it is also important and compulsory for Tehran and its supporters to be aware of the dangers of using and exploiting extremism. The unleashing of the sectarian monster from its long-necked bottle will lead the whole region, from which Iran is a part, into a filthy war that has a beginning with no end.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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