The Hesbah forum’s reaction to two recent rumors is instructive. First, the claim by a Hamas official that Obama’s advisers met with members of the organization during the U.S. election is being met with derision. The derision is directed not at Obama but at Hamas for selling out and walking down the trail blazed by Fatah. Interestingly, the credibility of the story is not doubted.
In contrast, many Hesbah members are skeptical of a recent report that the U.S. is trying to cut a deal with Taliban ally Hekmatyar (a seriously bad dude). Respondents doubt that someone of his stature, ideology, and ties to Bin Laden would cut a deal.
Three thoughts: First, Hesbah members believe the news about Obama’s advisers because it makes Hamas look bad; they don’t believe the news about Hekmatyar because it makes the Taliban look bad. The Taliban is one of the Jihadis’ last, best hopes for establishing an Islamic state, whereas Hamas has long been viewed as a sell out by most Jihadis.
Second, Jihadis are splitting or becoming demoralized on the mere rumor of talks, either with Hamas or with the Taliban. What will happen when serious deals are made? In the case of Hamas, deals will only disturb the minority of Jihadis who have been sticking up for the organization; everyone else views it as a lost cause. But in the case of the Taliban, it will be an earthquake and cause serious cognitive dissonance among the Jihadis outside of Af-Pak (those inside already know how fractious the Taliban is).
Finally, to state the obvious, the Jihadosphere is having trouble coping with the shades of grey that color the current U.S. approach to counterterrorism and COIN.
Document (Arabic): 11-11-08-hesbah-reaction-to-news-of-obama-advisers-meeting-with-hamas