Iraq and Palestine and Islam, oh my. Desperate to find a news angle in this dreary dish of rhetorical gruel, the AP points to his attempt to tie AQ’s jihad to the Palestinian cause — an endeavor in which Osama’s been engaged for fully 10 years and for which he earned a rebuke from no less a leftist light than Arafat himself (for his own cynical political reasons, natch).

In the audio excerpts broadcast by the Doha, Qatar-based television, bin Laden said that “Palestine cannot be retaken by negotiations and dialogue, but with fire and iron.”

Bin Laden also called on Palestinians who are unable to fight in the “land of Al-Quds” — a Muslim reference to Jerusalem — to join the Al Qaeda fight and the holy war, or jihad, in Iraq.

“The nearest field of jihad today to support our people in Palestine is the Iraqi field,” bin Laden said.

“We tell our brothers in Palestine who could not join the jihad in the land of Al-Quds, to get rid of illusions of political parties and groups which are mired in trickery of the blasphemous democracy and to take their positions among the ranks of the mujahideen in Iraq,” he said.

Rusty e-mails to say the release of this tape was even odder than yesterday’s: No announcement at all on AQ’s websites, no banner, no graphic, nada, despite the fact that the message comes from number one himself. Bin Laden mentions the Annapolis conference in November and the IDF’s operations in Gaza so it was obviously recorded within the last few months, but why then no mention of the Iraq anniversary? I wonder if he had planned to tape something for the occasion but then couldn’t for whatever reason, forcing AQ to mark its passing by releasing whatever they had from him in the vault. A “desperate bid for relevance,” in other words, made more desperate but some as yet unknown contingency. Exit question: What happened?

Update: Maybe the anniversary tape’s coming soon? “A militant Web site that frequently carries al-Qaida postings, said later Thursday that it expected bin Laden’s new audio on ‘The Way to Salvage Palestine’ soon.”

Update: An explicit reminder that, rhetorically at least, Iraq is very, very important to Al Qaeda.