What to Make of Zarqawi's Death
I've been rather silent on the big news that US forces aided by Jordanian intelligence were finally able to get their hands on Abu-Musaab Zarqawi. This usually happens to me when a political event this important occurs, especially when the media is all over it. I prefer to sit back and take it all in and then begin to rationalize and organize my thoughts, which are many.
My initial reaction was of course shock, followed by excitement and relief, and finally ended with a lot of skepticism and concern. I didn't doubt that he had really been killed or ponder any conspiracy theories, god forbid. The skepticism was related to the idea that bringing down this large terrorist figure would put an end to the violence and terror in Iraq.
It has been constantly drilled in our minds that Al-Qaeda is a unique network because it is not organized in a strict hierarchical way. It consists of cells, splinter groups, and different types of leaders who are immediately replaced if they are compromised. So then why should we even begin to believe that such an event will hurt the insurgency in Iraq?
Most observers have correctly noted that his death is more of a symbolic event, which might slow down Zarqawi's men, but they will be back with a vengeance soon. That's not to mention the hundreds of other similar groups and even more gangs and thugs who usually do not have much in common except their criminal acts. The "insurgency" is such an overused and nebulous term that its simply pointless to even use it. The diversity of the groups makes it that much harder for the Iraqi government to crack down on them, that is if they are even trying.
Many people have said that the US is the one who created Zarqawi. While I do not completely agree with this notion, it is obvious that the embarrassing planning for the post-war phase in Iraq by the "coalition" forces was and continues to be the main cause of the chaos and lawlessness that has overtaken the lives of Iraqis. The dismissal of the former army and the focus on the initial military aspects of the war overshadowed any consideration for what would happen once Baghdad fell.
The US is not solely responsible for Zarqawi, however. The fact that he has many supporters in the Arab world who might not support his attacks on civilians, but do agree that resistance against the occupation in Iraq is legitimate. Even when this "struggle" is taken outside of Iraq, to Jordanian wedding halls, the anger at such terrorist activity is short-lived and soon forgotten. The problem is that in the Arab world, if you are condemnig Zarqawi, most people presume that you are supporting the US. Even with members of my extended family, I have trouble convincing them that just because I condemn Zarqawi or Bin Laden that doesn't mean that I support Bush. Millions across the Middle East are simply sick and tired of the United States' policies in the region and subsequently refuse to blame any other party for the ills that plague their populations. I agree with fellow blogger Lina that education is one of the best ways to put an end to this kind of thinking and foster healthy dialogue and debate.
On a final note, I would've much rather seen Zarqawi caught like Saddam (like a rat) and would've liked to hear him attempt to defend himself. But then again that might've given him a platform to spew his radical thoughts and gain more popular support. Maybe his death is better.
[technorati tags: Iraq, war, Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda, US, terrorism]