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Thursday, June 08, 2006

What I learned about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by reading the Independent:

1.) Zarqawi was a common criminal from Jordan before the war.
2.) His main target was Iraqi Shias. Few U.S. troops were actually killed or injured by Zarqawi's attacks.
3.) The U.S. created his popularity, and he used it to great personal benefit. His newfound popularity also benefited the U.S. Colin Powell's mention of Zarqawi in February of 2003 (during his speech to the U.N.) as the link between Iraq and al-Qa'ida made him an anti-American symbol around the Arab world. This in turn led to his founding of a Sunni resistance movement after the U.S. invaded Iraq and made it easy for him to get assistance. By raising his profile, the U.S. attempted to give the impression that the "resistance" to the invasion came mostly from outside of Iraq when the opposite was (and is) true.
4.) At the time of Powell's mention of Zarqawi he was not a member of al-Qa'ida. He had ties to the organization (he went to Afghanistan to train with al-Qa'ida in 1999) but did not link his resistance movement with al-Qa'ida until after the start of the war.
5.) After Hussein's capture in 2003, Zarqawi garnered all of the blame for what was happening in Iraq. This empasis on Zarqawi's role was part of a deliberate psyops campaign by the U.S. military to raise his profile and further link al-Qa'ida and Iraq in the minds of Americans.

We are glad al-Zarqawi is dead. He was a potent force in the anti-Shia movement and did much to ratchet up tensions between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq. However, the U.S. provided much assistance to him by making him the boogeyman after the death of Hussein. And from the standpoint of U.S. policymakers, Zarqawi played an important role in selling the war to American citizens.

We suspect there will be more boogeymen, more faces for decks of cards as the amorphous "al-Qa'ida" presence morphs into something else. 9/11 is far enough behind us that the Administration can no longer rely on it to provide political cover for the Iraq war. The new boogeyman will probably not be chosen for his or her ties to al-Qa'ida. Rather, the new boogeyman will be born of some other politically useful threat. It will be interesting to see the latest addition to the long and winding line of American nemises. We began with Osama Bin Laden, which morphed to the Taliban, which morphed to Saddam Hussein, which morphed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I'll make a prediction and say that next one will have "significant" links to Iran and provide a convenient political platform for promoting the invasion of Iran. If there are any al-Qa'ida links at all, they will only be trumpeted for sake of continuity. But we shall see, perhaps domestic political concerns will produce a nemesis that's located closer to home.

Andrew 8:33 PM : |


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