DUBAI: Al Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said US decisions to cut its defence budget and engage with the Afghan Taliban were signals of a decline in Washington's power, in a message posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
Zawahiri, who took up the reins of al Qaeda after the killing
of Osama bin Laden last year, also said popular uprisings that
have convulsed the Arab world since last year were
overwhelmingly Islamist in motive.
"One of the latest signs of its shrinking (power) is the
reduction in the US Department of Defense's budget," said
Zawahiri in the 24-minute audio recording posted on Islamist
websites, adding "military arrogance" had brought it nothing but
US President Barack Obama in mid-February unveiled a
defence budget for 2013 that proposed cuts in Pentagon spending
for the first time since 1998, slashing military personnel costs
and weapons purchases.
"The biggest factor that forced America to reduce its
defence budget is Allah's help to the mujahideen to harm the
evil empire of our time," he said, referring to those who fight
Zawahiri said US overtures to the Afghan Taliban, with
which it has made "exploratory" contacts for possible
reconciliation, according to an Afghan diplomat, was further
evidence of its defeat.
"America ... is about to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and then not only accept, but insist upon requesting negotiations with the Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban), which it used to consider as a terrorist group that must be annihilated," Zawahiri said.
In the recording was the ninth in a series of messages which
have also dealt with political developments in Egypt.
Zawahiri said despite the overthrow of former President Hosni
Mubarak last year, his "corrupt regime" would remain in place
until the country imposed Islamic law, stopped answering to the
United States and cancelled its peace treaty with Israel.
"The popular Arab uprisings have proved they are mainly
Islamic in orientation and have sparked a revolution against the
mercenaries of America," said Zawahiri in the recording, entitled
"So Why Did We Revolt Against Him?".
Banned under Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood today holds
more than 43 percent of the seats in the Egyptian parliament,
having won more than any other party in the country's most
democratic election in six decades.
"Egypt is not a free trade zone, nor an agent for America
nor a middleman for Israel nor a tourist resort. It is the
citadel of Islam. The fortress of pan-Arabism; the land of
garrison, jihad, knowledge, and preaching" said Zawahiri, himself