Articles and analysis

By George Friedman

This article reproduced with permission of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. ( discusses the connection between three apparently discrete events.

The al-Askariyah mosque -- a significant Shiite shrine in As Samarra, Iraq -- was bombed, triggering intensifying violence between Shiite and Sunni groups. A group linked to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for attacking a major oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. And a furor broke out in the United States over the proposed purchase, by a government-owned United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm, of a British company that operates a number of important American ports. Apart from the fact that all of these incidents involve Muslims, the stories don't appear to be linked. They are. All three stories are commentaries on three things. First, they are measures of the current state of the U.S.-jihadist war. Second, they are measures of the Bush administration's strategy of splitting the Islamic world against itself, along its natural fault lines, and using that split to contain and control the radical Islamist threat against the United States. And finally, they are the measure of U.S. President George W. Bush's ability to manage public perceptions of his plans and operations.