Bin Laden's latest message

Tapes attributed to Osama bin Laden rarely cause much of a stir these days, and the latest one is being interpreted (perhaps correctly) as evidence of al-Qaeda's current weakness.

However, Marc Lynch on the Foreign Policy blog suggests "it deserves attention in ways which many recent al-Qaeda communications have not". He concludes:

Overall, this tape struck me as something significant. Al-Qaeda has been on the retreat for some time. Its response thus far to the Obama administration has been confused and distorted. Ayman al-Zawahiri has floundered with several clumsy efforts to challenge Obama's credibility or to mock his outreach. 

But bin Laden's intervention here seems far more skilful and likely to resonate with mainstream Arab publics. It suggests that he at least has learned from the organization's recent struggles and is getting back to the basics in AQ Central's "mainstream Muslim" strategy of highlighting political grievances rather than ideological purity and putting the spotlight back on unpopular American policies. Several recent commentaries by leading Arab analysts ... suggest that this may be paying off. American strategic communications efforts will need to up their game too.