Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi Recap

Slate magazine has an interesting article on the importance of Zaeqawi's death. The article is essentially a commentary of another article published in The Atlantic Monthly

"death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is excellent news in its own right and even more excellent if, as U.S. sources in Iraq are claiming, it resulted from information that derived from people who were or had been close to him. (And, if that claim is black propaganda, then it is clever black propaganda, which is also excellent news.)"

"Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He was able to help ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one single day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad (and murdering the heroic envoy Sérgio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shiite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Najaf. His decision to declare a jihad against the Shiite population in general, in a document of which Weaver (on no evidence) doubts the authenticity, has been the key innovation of the insurgency: applying lethal pressure to the most vulnerable aspect of Iraqi society. And it has had the intended effect, by undermining Grand Ayatollah Sistani and helping empower Iranian-backed Shiite death squads."

"Zarqawi's relations with Bin Laden are a little more tortuous. Mary Anne Weaver shows fairly convincingly that the two men did not get along and were in some sense rivals for the leadership. That's natural enough: Religious fanatics are schismatic by definition. Zarqawi's visceral hatred of the Shiite heresy was unsettling even to some more mainstream Wahhabi types, as was his undue relish in making snuff videos. (How nice to know that these people do have their standards.) However, when Zarqawi sought the franchise to call his group "al-Qaida in Mesopotamia," he was granted it with only a few admonitions."

"Most fascinating of all is the suggestion that Zarqawi was all along receiving help from the mullahs in Iran. He certainly seems to have been able to transit their territory (Herat is on the Iranian border with Afghanistan) and to replenish his forces by the same route. If this suggestive connection is proved, as Weaver suggests it will be, then we have the Shiite fundamentalists in Iran directly sponsoring the murderer of their co-religionists in Iraq. This in turn would mean that the Iranian mullahs stood convicted of the most brutish and cynical irresponsibility, in front of their own people, even as they try to distract attention from their covert nuclear ambitions. That would be worth knowing. And it would become rather difficult to argue that Bush had made them do it, though no doubt the attempt will be made."

"If we had withdrawn from Iraq already, as the "peace" movement has been demanding, then one of the most revolting criminals of all time would have been able to claim that he forced us to do it. That would have catapulted Iraq into Stone Age collapse and instated a psychopathic killer as the greatest Muslim soldier since Saladin. As it is, the man is ignominiously dead and his dirty connections a lot closer to being fully exposed. This seems like a good day's work to me."

Full article

With Zarqawi gone its is very possible that Al Qaeda in Iraq may shift from bombing mosques and civilian targets solely for the purpose of trying to create a civil war. That plan was was Zarqawi's alone and apparently not heavilly favored by other Al Qaeda leaders. That suggests that we may be seeing more attacks on infrastructure, military targets, members of the new Iraqi government (and their families), and the Iraqi police in the future. I'm sure Iraq's Shiite population is breathing a little easier today. Score one for the good guys.