Monday, October 31, 2005

Zarqawi's Agenda

Stephen Ulph writing for the Jamestown Foundation has produced an analysis of Abu Musab az-Zarqawi's objectives as outlined Abu Abd Allah Ahmad al-Umran, one of his apparent associates. According to al-Umran, Zarqawi's targets are chosen with an eye toward isolating the American forces in Iraq by attacking Iraqis who form a bridge between them and the population, targeting foreign ambassadors so as to isolate the Iraqi government and cut it off, and finally attackin Shi'ites, for a list of reasons he lists.

What's striking about this, as Ulph notes, is it's defensive nature, as if he is trying to defend himself from the criticisms levelled in the Zawahiri letter. If we take the Zawahiri letter as genuine, this in turn could point toward a continuing rivalry between Zarqawi and Bin Laden, as Zarqawi stakes his claim to be more than just a creature of the Iraq conflict. Those calling for an immediate pull-out from Iraq, meanwhile, should note that it virtually promises a failed state in Iraq would become a haven for international terrorism. This does not mean we need to keep our current force posture, but we have an interest in seeing that the current government doesn't collapse. Juan Cole has previously produced some ideas on how this could be done.


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