Why Has al-Qaeda Succeeded In North Africa And Failed In Arabian Peninsula?

That’s the question posed by a member of the Shumukh forum.  Below are a range of answers:

Abu Hajir (failure in Saudi):

  • Clerics of beggary [i.e. they have their hand out for state money]
  • The proximity of a theater like Iraq
  • No suitable environment to move about or hide from the state
  • The above only applies to Saudi Arabia; the brothers in Yemen are doing well

Abu Hajir (success in N. Africa):

  • The rulers are manifestly not Muslims in the eyes of ordinary Muslims
  • Rulers who impoverish their countries for the sake of warlords and the French
  • Total war on the religion of God
  • The experience of the militant groups in Algeria
  • The desert that connects the Islamic countries of N. Africa with the Horn of Africa.  It is unprotected.

safyahh (success in N. Africa):

  • The long experience of the Salvation Front fighting the French
  • Difficult terrain
  • Diffusion of weapons
  • Islamists have greater legitimacy because power was snatched from them by the military

Zanki2010 (failure in Saudi):

  • Historical background of the Saudi state
  • Saudi successfully duped all of the clerics in the ’60s and ’70s.
  • The existence of sects in Saudi Arabia, particularly the Shia, that the Saudi state uses to scare the Sunnis, particularly Sunni clerics
  • Major differences between traditional Salafi clerics and the Sahwa Salafi clerics who entered Saudi from other countries
  • The jihads in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya drained the enthusiasm of the youth.
  • The Saudi state fought the clerics with prison, buying them off, and heavy surveillance.  It also duped them by implementing some of the more showy Islamic laws.
  • The topography of Saudi Arabia makes guerrilla wars or wars of attrition difficult.
  • Logistical and intelligence support from America and the Gulf States against the jihad
  • Breaking Saudi society into factions by cultivating tribalism and buying the loyalty of tribal chiefs
  • Passing laws that limit an individual’s activities
Zanki2010 (success in N. Africa):
  • N. Africa was exposed to several colonial conquests.
  • The mountainous terrain is good for guerrilla warfare.
  • The explicit unbelief of the regimes in N. Africa
  • The depressing situation of the societies there
  • The unity of the Islamist movement and Islamist discourse from ’88 to ’92
  • The wide response of society to the Islamist discourse
Al-Hizbar al-Ansari (failure in Saudi):
  • The state clerics have duped the people.
  • Most of the people of the peninsula revere the clerics and prefer their opinions to those of the Qur’an and the Messenger.
  • Al-Qaeda has been thoroughly infiltrated by the state security apparatus. 

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