Stratfor sums up last week’s events:
It strikes us as far more than a coincidence that within hours of the confirmation of al-Zarqawi’s death, the Iraqi Parliament put the finishing touches on the new Iraqi government. Baghdad now sports an internationally acceptable, domestically chosen government that includes participation from all of the major sectarian groups.
They argue that the use of F-16s indicates stronger pre-existing intelligence and lower fragmentation & fire; this implies, they believe, that “Al-Zarqawi was not found, he was sold out. A political deal was made, and the Sunnis have delivered on their end.”
Mary Anne Weaver’s article in the current Atlantic Monthly ( “The Making of America’s Deadliest Enemy in Iraq” in hard copy; web site has renamed what appears to be the same article with some twinking of tenses, “The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in current web version) discusses Zarqawi’s success in recruitment & training with the modest $5,000 seed money al Quaeda first gave him; she then describes a complicated relationshp with bin Laden. Although her argument (one I’d heard paraphrased in some reporting) is that to a large degree America has built up Zarkqawi’s reputation & personified in him the enemy, she demonstrates in several ways his importance – if not as Bin Laden, who is “an ideological thinker. He created the concept of al-Qaeda and all of its offshoots.” But clearly Zarqawi’s style – a border approach to battling & beheading as a leader in the midst of the fray – a style can rev up volunteers. And, frankly, the temptation to demonize someone who considers weddings an appropritae target for suicide bombers or wants to act out on video his own savage acts is pretty much uncontrollable.
Hitchens discusses the effect of Zarqawi’s death and analyzes Weaver’s argument. She describes his connections with Iran, ones Hitchens sees as important in understanding his fanaticism & also understanding why Iran is betraying its own people:
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.