Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes that in his latest videotape urging Iraqi Muslims to boycott the January elections, Osama bin Laden may have alienated as many Iraqis as he persuaded.
"In declaring "infidels" all who vote under the "infidel" interim constitution negotiated by Iraqi politicians with US civil administrator Paul Bremer last winter, Bin Laden is seeking to counter the decree of grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani that Iraqis must vote in the upcoming elections or they will be consigned to hell. Bin Laden is arguing, according to the Aljazeera.net in Arabic, that the interim constitution that is the framework for elections is artificial and pagan ("jahili", pertaining to the Age of Ignorance before Islam) because it does not recognize Islam as the sole source of law.
"Bin Laden's intervention in Iraq was hamfisted and clumsy, and will benefit the United States and the Shiites enormously. Most Iraqi Muslims, Sunni or Shiite, dislike the Wahhabi branch of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia, and with which Bin Laden is associated. Nationalistic Iraqis will object to a foreigner interfering in their national affairs."
This could be the first good news to come out of Iraq since US forces went in 21 months ago.