November 22, 2005
Zarqawi's Bad Week
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the al Qaida chieftain in Iraq, has had
a bad week. If it turns out Zarqawi was among seven al Qaida leaders
killed in Mosul Saturday, it'll have been a really bad week. But
even if Zarqawi got away again, it's been a rotten week for him.
also been a bad week for antiwar Democrats, who had their bluff
called in the House of Representatives.
bad week is a product of the suicide bombings he orchestrated
November 9th against three hotels in Amman, Jordan. The bombings
resulted in 62 deaths, mostly of Arabs attending a wedding. Because
of its large Palestinian population, Jordan had been the country
most supportive of al Qaida.
Last Friday, more than 200,000 Jordanians took to the streets
to demonstrate against al Qaida. Zarqawi is Jordanian, but his
tribe has disowned him.
This is a
big deal, said Jim Robbins, who teaches at the National Defense
University: "One of the reasons I thought the report of Zarqawi's
death was credible at first was that his tribe had forsaken him,"
tribal ties among groups in al Anbar province in Iraq may be what
has kept him safe thus far." It could have been a tip from
a disgruntled relative that led U.S. and Iraqi troops to surround
the house in Mosul where seven men and a woman died, several by
blowing themselves up. More likely, they were ratted out by Iraqis
who had once been friendly to al Qaida, but are turning against
been a surge in tips from Iraqis over the last month, a U.S. intelligence
officer told the Washington Post. "These tend to
be traditional Iraqi leaders -- sheiks and imams -- upset with
the organization, especially its recent execution of Sunni Arabs
in Ramadi," the official said.
capital of al Anbar province, is a smuggling center that long
has been as lawless as Dodge City before Wyatt Earp became marshal.
There have been running gun battles betweenlocal insurgents tied
to the former regime of Saddam Hussein and al Qaida. There also
have been gun battles between al Qaida and U.S. troops in Ramadi,
which have gone badly for al Qaida.
"insurgents," most of them al Qaida members, have been
killed or captured in Operation Steel Curtain, now in its second
week, a joint Marine-Iraqi operation which has been cleaning out
hideouts along the Syrian border.
lost a number of key lieutenants in recent weeks, thanks to the
increasing number and timeliness of tips. The most recent were
Abu Ahmed, the "Emir" of Sadah, nabbed on day three
of Steel Curtain, and Abu Ibrahim, a technology expert who manufactured
triggering devices for roadside bombs, taken in Baghdad Oct. 31st.
More of Zarqawi's command network was lost in the house in Mosul,
even if he himself got away.
walls falling in on al Qaida in Iraq, it would seem a curious
time for congressional Democrats to go into preemptive surrender
mode. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., introduced a resolution last week
calling for "immediate redeployment" of U.S. troops
retired Marine reserve colonel and a decorated Vietnam veteran,
is a substantive man. The news media described his resolution
as a blow to the Bush administration. "When President Bush
decided to wage war on Saddam Hussein, perhaps no Democrat was
a firmer ally," wrote Maura Reynolds in the Los Angeles
was untrue. Murtha had expressed doubt about going to war in 2002,
and had declared Iraq "unwinnable" in May of last year.
backbone and more brains than they customarily do, House Republicans
called for a vote on immediate withdrawal from Iraq. It failed,
404-3. Democrats who'd applauded the introduction of Murtha's
resolution whined it was dirty pool for Republicans to make them
vote on his bottom line.
a trap," a Democratic strategist told Newsweek's Eleanor
Clift. "If the party comes out for a unilateral six month
withdrawal, that would become the issue for 06, and they (Republicans)
would kill us again." Democrats like to make antiwar noises
for their moonbat base, but were unwilling to cast a vote that
could hurt them with swing voters. They were too cowardly to be
Kelly is national security columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
and the Blade of Toledo, Ohio.