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Freedom's Fidelity

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Zarqawi Strategy

Last month the New York Times reported on a letter seized from a known Al-Qaeda safe house in Baghdad. It is charged that the letter was authored by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian the Bush administration previously named as the main link between Al-Qaeda and Hussein's Regime. (Zarqawi was also mention here by me last August.)

Among other things, the letter (full translated text here) describes the jihad as breaking under American pressure:

But America did not come to leave, and it will not leave no matter how numerous its wounds become and how much of its blood is spilled. It is looking to the near future....
Like Somalia and other attacks on Western targets throughout the 90's, terrorists believe that if enough casualties are inflicted, Americans will cut and run. That was the September 10th paradigm, they are learning different now.

"We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases. By God, this is suffocation!"
That's encouraging to hear. That the enemy is sufficiently concerned counts for at least as much as media reports and political posturing. Zarqawi goes on to lament the lack of mountains and forests in which to take refuge, as well as the difficulty in recruiting Iraqi civilians to start holy war in their own land. Even those that they do manage to recruit seem quite unsatisfactory, what with their aversion to death and all - in other words, they are in it for the money, not the ideology:
"Jihad here unfortunately [takes the form of] mines planted, rockets launched, and mortars shelling from afar. The Iraqi brothers still prefer safety and returning to the arms of their wives, where nothing frightens them. Sometimes the groups have boasted among themselves that not one of them has been killed or captured. We have told them in our many sessions with them that safety and victory are incompatible...."

As the Islamo-Fascists realize that America is in this for the long haul, the letter outlines a new strategy, one that involves attacks on the new Iraqi police force and the Shia majority that was so brutally oppressed under the Sunni Hussein Regime. Attacks on police stations were the trend last month, and have been somewhat effective (in their measures of body count and fear). They are however, attacking armed men who, when it comes to returning fire, do not have to be nearly as discriminating as coalition troops. In a country looking for security, not much sympathy is garnered by killing locals trying to provide it. So the real strategy is involves the Shia:
These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies...and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breast.
....The solution that we see, and God the Exalted knows better, is for us to drag the Shi'a into the battle because this is the only way to prolong the fighting between us and the infidels.
....We have said before that the Shi'a have put on the uniforms of the Iraqi army, police, and security [forces] and have raised the banner of preserving the homeland and the citizen. Under this banner, they have begun to liquidate the Sunnis under the pretext that they are saboteurs, remnants of the Ba'th, and terrorists spreading evil in the land. With strong media guidance from the Governing Council and the Americans, they have been able to come between the Sunni masses and the mujahidin. I give an example that brings the matter close to home in the area called the Sunni Triangle - if this is the right name for it. The army and police have begun to deploy in those areas and are growing stronger day by day. They have put chiefs [drawn] from among Sunni agents and the people of the land in charge. In other words, this army and police may be linked to the inhabitants of this area by kinship, blood, and honor.
....I come back and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military, and other cadres among the Shi'a with blow after blow until they bend to the Sunnis. Someone may say that, in this matter, we are being hasty and rash and leading the [Islamic] nation into a battle for which it is not ready, [a battle] that will be revolting and in which blood will be spilled. This is exactly what we want, since right and wrong no longer have any place in our current situation....

Whether or not Zarqawi is behind the attacks, this is clearly the strategy that is being carried out, attacking the Shia with blow after blow. Tuesday saw near simultaneous explosions rip through crowded Shiite holy sites in Karbala and Baghdad killing 150 or more (estimates vary). An hour later, attackers in Pakistan lobbed grenades and sprayed a religious procession of Shiites with gunfire killing at least 40 and wounding over 100. Expect this to get bloodier in the short term, Zarqawi knows the clock is ticking.
We hope that this matter, I mean the zero hour, will [come] four months or so before the promised government is formed. As you can see, we are racing against time.

Transfer of power to the Iraqis is scheduled for July 1st, these attacks were perpetrated on March 2nd. Now is the "zero hour" and the days coming will likely see further bloodshed. Now is not the time to waver. Nation building is certainly a tenuous thing, Haiti provides only the most recent example. Determined resolve is the key component. With resolve, it can be done. A stable, free Iraq must be achieved. The biggest threat to the Islamo-fascists is not the American war machine, but American democracy. Destabilization is the why behind the attacks. The Zarqawi strategy is to attack the Shiites in hopes of fomenting a sectarian war, and rallying the Sunni Arabs to their terror cause. On Tuesday, the terrorists killed, but they aren't winning any hearts and minds. In the aftermath, Sunni religious figures immediately issued fatwa condemning "any act of violence against Iraqi state government workers, police, and soldiers."

Terror attacks are not some political statement against Western Oppression, they are not a cry for a change in U.S. foreign policy. It is the attempted imposition of 12th century theocracy through death and destruction. Bin-Laden propagandizes this as a war of Islam vs. America, but it's revealing itself as Osama and Thugs vs. Civilization. Whether it's attacks in Turkey, Riyadh, Bali or Iraq every where Al-Qaeda rears it ugliness dead Muslims are left in its wake. Which begs the question, is this really what the "Arab Street" supports? If the answer is "no" then why does the anti-war left insist upon painting the Arab world as generally supportive of such butcherly atrocities? I mean just look at the results! (Pictures here - they are very graphic, but I linked to them for a reason, go look, you'll have to scroll down.) I tend to believe that much of the anti-U.S. feeling in the Middle East results from indoctrination combined with a political culture devoid of free expression. Acts and images described above should start to trump that. If I am wrong and, somehow, images like the above spark endearment to terror oganizations from the "Arab Street" it is only reason to further marginalize them, if "they" exists at all. But right now, the terrorists are losing, and the Arab Street remains as unarousable as ever. It's hard for me to believe that, in their hearts, the citizens of the Middle East don't have a longing for freedom. Quite a bit hangs in the balance here, that is why it won't be easy. The direction that Iraq travels over the next few months will have lasting implications for the political future of the region as a whole.

Update: Some Iraqi blogger reactions, here, here, here, and here. All present unique insight and are well worth the read.


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