Here's an article from Stratfor this morning. A new audio communiquÃ© surfaced on Tuesday from al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In this latest message, al-Zawahiri pledges allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, whom he calls the leader of the worldwide jihadist movement. Even more striking, there is no mention whatsoever of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. This suggests that al Qaeda has been weakened to the point that a major shift is under way in terms of the leadership of the wider jihadist movement. There is no proof that bin Laden is dead, but he is certainly missing in action. His last video message surfaced more than two years ago -- a few days before the U.S. presidential election in 2004. That said, bin Laden did issue an audio statement as recently as July 1, 2006. In comparison, there has been a robust flow of video and audio communiquÃ©s from al-Zawahiri since late 2004. This means that bin Laden is most likely incapacitated, or at least is unable to oversee operational matters personally. Al-Zawahiri has been left to lead the movement. While al-Zawahiri might be the network's theoretician and even bin Laden's ideological guru, he does not possess bin Laden's leadership qualities. And not only is al-Zawahiri trying to fill in for bin Laden, he is doing this pretty much by himself, given that the U.S.-jihadist war has resulted in the death or capture of many of the senior leaders of al Qaeda prime. Al-Zawahiri is also heavily dependent upon his Pashtun hosts in northwestern Pakistan -- not just for the ability to operate, but also for his own physical security and that of his surviving comrades who constitute al Qaeda's central leadership circles. Meanwhile, there has been a significant resurgence of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan's Pashtun regions. From al Qaeda's point of view, Afghanistan is starting to look more promising than Iraq -- where, with Sunnis in the minority, the movement's influence is fundamentally limited by demographics. These circumstances have created a situation that has allowed Mullah Omar to reassert himself as the leader of the jihadists. This is not the first time that al Qaeda has been forced to recognize Mullah Omar as its overall leader. After the U.S. cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan in retaliation for the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998, the question of authority became an issue between Mullah Omar and bin Laden. At the time, bin Laden agreed to respect the leadership of Mullah Omar and promised that al Qaeda would not behave as a state within a state. Instead, the jihadist network would coordinate its activities with the Taliban regime. In 2005, however, Mullah Omar met with the al Qaeda leadership and expressed his displeasure at their over-emphasis on Iraq and neglect for Afghanistan. Mullah Omar reminded bin Laden that the Taliban had sacrificed their own regime for the sake of al Qaeda. It was as a result of this important meeting that al Qaeda began reinvesting in Afghanistan, most significantly in the form of providing funds and suicide bombers, and training the Taliban in the art of suicide bombings. In fact, the Taliban resurgence to a great degree has been made possible by the renewed al Qaeda commitment to the Taliban insurgency. Now that bin Laden is no longer leading al Qaeda, and with the Taliban revived as a major force, al-Zawahiri has no choice but to acknowledge Mullah Omar as the supreme jihadist leader. Al Qaeda's dependency on the Taliban (as opposed to the other way around) will create a struggle over operational planning and allocation of resources -- directly impacting the network's global reach. Who will be the new global bogeyman? Mullah Omar, Bush, Blair or Olmert?