Conservative Thinktank declares that the occupation of Iraq has been a major bonus for Al-Queda
You know it's bad when even the conservatives are bagging on Bush. Not only Richard Lugar and John McCain, but now the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is adding its voice to the chorus of conservatives who think Bush has strengthened America's enemies more than he has hurt them.
The earlier invasion of Afghanistan forced al-Qaida to change its tactics, said the IISS. "While al-Qaida lost a recruiting magnet and a training, command and operations base, it was compelled to disperse and become even more decentralised, 'virtual', and invisible".
It delegated more responsibility to "local talent," with recruits becoming "less religiously absolute in mindset [and] closer to their enemies in background". This could make them more open to penetration by western security and intelligence agencies, the thinktank suggested.
Any security offensive against al-Qaida must be accompanied by political developments, such as the democratisation of Iraq and the resolution of conflict in Israel, it said.
In a report uncharacteristically critical of America, the IISS warned that Iraq is facing a "security vacuum".
Middle-ranking members of the Saddam regime have been able to deploy their weapons, "gain ideological purchase and resonance with a new brand of Islamic nationalism, and to mobilise Sunni fears of Shi'ite and Kurdish domination and a growing resentment at foreign occupation. It is unlikely that there has been a 'hidden hand' centrally coordinating and funding the insurgency".