America's so-called War On Terror, to the disinterested bystander, is a rather nebulous affair. Many disparate geopolitical problems, some related and others not, are seemingly plucked at random and woven together into the miasma that we find presently ourselves in. Because of the vagueness of this crusade many situations are conflated together to produce even more confusion. One perennial misconception is to lump Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism/insurgency with the problem the US is having with Iran (here are two articles, from the Washington Post and Daily Telegraph, that do just that), the general line of reasoning being: "they're both Muslims and they both hate us ergo they're the same." Nothing could be further from the truth as was demonstrated by a news article last week which, if it weren't for the subject matter, would have been rather funny. Iran's president Ahmadinejad, running off at the mouth as per usual, accused a secret Zionist-American conspiracy for the 9/11 attacks (the rumour was supposedly started by Hezbollah). A popular move amongst the Islamic extremist audience one might think, but not so. Al Qaeda's no. 2 immediately made a statement denouncing the Iranians for wanting to discredit al Qaeda and their successes in attacking America. He then went on to claim that Iran was in league with America in the latter's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. (It reminds me of when I was a kid and I saw a news report where the IRA claimed responsibility for a bombing. To my naive and innocent mind I couldn't understand why anyone would want to claim responsibility for doing such a bad thing.) In fact the Shi'ite theocracy in Iran gives the USA a good run for its money for the top of al Qaeda's hate list. It just goes to show that the political dynamics in the region are far more complex than "with us or against us" soundbites.