Editor's note: Peter Bergen is the director of the national security studies program at the New America Foundation in Washington, a fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security and CNN's national security analyst. He is the author of the new book, "The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda."
By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst
In late February I posted a piece on CNN.com titled "Al Qaeda the loser in Arab revolutions" making the point that Osama bin Laden must be watching the events in the Middle East unfold with a mixture of glee and despair.
Glee, because overthrowing the dictatorships and monarchies of the Middle East has long been his central goal. Despair, because none of the Arab revolutions has anything to do with him….
The assertion that al Qaeda is a marginal player in the current events in the Middle East has provoked a furious response from the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is playing a leadership role in "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
In an essay titled "The Tsunami of Change," Awlaki makes the uncontroversial point that the regimes based on fear are ending in the Arab world because of the revolutions and protests from Egypt to Bahrain. But he goes on to assert that, contrary to commentators such as CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who has said "the Arab revolts of 2011 represent a total repudiation of al Qaeda's founding ideology," rather the world should "know very well that the opposite is the case."
Awlaki then turns to this author, writing, "for a so-called 'terrorism expert' such as Peter Bergen, it is interesting to see how even he doesn't get it right this time. For him to think that because a Taliban-style regime is not going to take over following the revolutions, is a too short-term way of viewing the unfolding events." In other words: Just you wait. Taliban-type theocracies will be coming to the Middle East as the revolutions there unfold further....
I'm not a betting man, but if I were I'd place very long odds on al Qaeda or allied groups having a significant role in any of these countries' futures.
Read the rest of Peter's article over at CNN Opinions.