March 25, 2012: Al Qaeda, despite over a decade of major defeats and sharply declining popularity among Moslems, is still around. What keeps al Qaeda going is the continued popularity of Islamic conservatism and triumphalism. Islamic majority nations, especially Arab ones, still suffer from cultural problems that produced lots of poverty, illiteracy and corruption. The result has been lots of monarchies and dictatorships and unhappy Moslems. In response, Islamic clerics preach that this can best be fixed by renouncing modern ideas, like socialism and democracy, and adopting Islamic rule. In effect, a religious dictatorship, presided over by clerics and Islamic law, which would restore the Moslem world to the superpower status it possessed a thousand years ago. Once achieved, the Moslem world could continue their effort to convert the entire world to Islam. This dream has caused much violence and grief over the past millennia. In the last century, Moslems began to look for other solutions. After World War II, socialism and communism were popular in Moslem countries, but neither of these Western philosophies worked, so the Islamic world remained stagnant and ruled by despots.
The Arab Spring was a big disappointment to al Qaeda, which saw itself as the most qualified to liberate the Moslem world from all its problems. Worse, many of the Arab Spring leaders were calling for democracy. Al Qaeda considers democracy un-Islamic and just another bad influence from the West. But al Qaeda also noticed that Islamic political parties did well in elections that followed the overthrow of several Arab despots. But these Islamic parties were wary of al Qaeda, even though al Qaeda had blamed the terrorist slaughter in Iraq on others. This did not deceive anyone. As a result, in the last few years, al Qaeda has tried real hard to reduce the civilian body count, and concentrate on killing soldiers, police and politicians instead. So as al Qaeda showed up in the new Arab democracies, they were warned that any rough stuff would be met with rougher stuff. Since al Qaeda members believe they are on a Mission From God, it's uncertain if these warnings will have the desired effect. If al Qaeda does try to mix it up with these new Arab democracies, it could finally be the end of the organization. The death of their founder, Osama bin Laden, last year, made the organization seem mortal and many Arabs are very hostile to terrorism, whether it's Islamic or via the secret police working for some Arab dictator. What Moslems want is change for the better, not a world war.