May 30 2006

Zarqawi’s Last Stand?

Published by at 9:50 am under All General Discussions,Iraq

*** Update: Possibly three more rounded up (H/T reader Crosspatch ***

*** Update: More lashing out by Zarqawi and Al Qaeda could be a sign of desperation by the insurgents:

A parked car bomb hit a popular market in a Shiite area north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 65, the Interior Ministry said. Another car bomb went off at a dealership in southern Iraq, killing at least 12 people and wounding 32.

Meanwhile, a key terror suspect who allegedly confessed to hundreds of beheadings has been captured, Iraqi officials said.


The government identified the suspected terrorist captured Monday as Ahmed Hussein Dabash Samir al-Batawi and said he had confessed to hundreds of beheadings. He was arrested by a terrorist combat unit, which also seized documents, cell phones and computers that contained information on other wanted terrorists and Islamic extremist groups, the prime minister’s office said.

Massive killings of innocent Iraqis is not going to win converts to fight the US and the Iraqi government. The wheels seem to be falling off Al Qaeda’s plans. They should have simply retreated. Killing Muslims will just make it harder for Al Qaeda to secure sanctuary elsewhere ***

*** Update: Reader Crosspatch notes another big catch today in Iraq along with documents and other potential leads. ***

If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, things may be coming to a head in Iraq regarding the Al Qaeda insurgents. Note that over the last month Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, has lost numerous top aides as they have been killed and captured.

In parallel, Zarqawi’s bloodthirst drove him to attempt to intimidate the Sunni’s by killing leaders (tribal leaders I assume) who were working within the new government. Dumb move on his part. Under Saddam the Sunni’s were experts in intimidation. Al Qaeda probably created numerous blood fueds with every major Sunni tribe by now.

So I am not surprised that the Sunni response would be one of purging Zarqawi from their midst. And my guess is they have no problem calling in the coalition forces to assist in the cleansing, and thus news today that the US is bringing in reserve forces to the Anbar province:

The U.S. military said Monday it was deploying the main reserve fighting force for Iraq, a full 3,500-member armored brigade, as emergency reinforcements for the embattled western province of Anbar, where a surge of violence linked to the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has severely damaged efforts to turn Sunni Arab tribal leaders against the insurgency.

The insurgents have assassinated 11 tribal leaders in the Ramadi area since the end of last year, when Sunni sheiks in the city began open cooperation with the U.S. military. That alliance was heralded by U.S. commanders as a sign of a major split between Sunni insurgents and the larger Sunni community of western Iraq.


“We hope to get rid of al-Qaeda, which is a huge burden on the city. Unfortunately, Zarqawi’s fist is stronger than the Americans’,” said one Sunni sheik, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of insurgent retaliation.


Another sheik, Bashir Abdul Qadir al-Kubaisi of the Kubaisat tribe in Ramadi, expressed similar views. “Today, there is no tribal sheik or a citizen who dares to go to the city hall or the U.S. base, because Zarqawi issued a statement ordering his men to kill anyone seen leaving the base or city hall,” he said.

We are very upset. But being upset is better than mourning the death of a sheik or tribal leader,” Kubaisi said. “Zarqawi has imposed himself on us. We started thinking of appeasing Zarqawi and his group, because rejecting them means death.”

Emphasis mine. Reading through this I see a Sunni population ready to get rid of Zarqawi. And while Zarqawi can issue death threats, his existence requires hiding among the population. My guess is we are bringing in the reserves because we have an opportunity to shatter the back of Al Qaeda in Iraq. I think this is a fairly safe prediction given this little tidbit:

Although Anbar province is heavily Sunni, many local residents have grown weary of the presence of the foreign fighters who joined the Sunni insurgents. They have tired of the violent control the fighter groups wield over cities and towns, and of the U.S. attacks the insurgents draw.

Let’s hope this opportunity is for real and will finally break the last remnants of Al Qaeda.

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Zarqawi’s Last Stand?”

  1. crosspatch says:

    Looks like the Iraqis nabbed another one today. This one looks like a pretty big fish but possibly unrelated to Zarqawi. What interested me most in the story was:

    The unit also seized documents, cell phones and computers that contained the names and addresses of other wanted terrorists and information on Islamic extremist groups, the government said in a statement.

  2. edray1 says:

    From what I am hearing, the real problem may be in Basra,
    where IRAN is gaining significant influence!

  3. AJStrata says:

    Testing a new feature – Crosspatch, thanks for the lead


  4. crosspatch says:

    Looks like three more! (found that one over at Rantburg).

  5. Rob says:

    The battle for Ramadi seems to be taking longer than I thought.
    It would be good to have deeper insight and a better feel for the way things are going. I remember a similar slugfest in Mosul, where eventually the Striker Brigade was able to prevale.
    Losing Ramadi may be the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq, so a real crunch may be coming.
    I would like to see a good comparison of our approach and tactics
    in Al Ramadi and Falujia. I suspect that these 2 battles will be much compared in the history books.
    Remember the leaders in Ramadi came to our military and requested help. With the movement of the reserves toward Anbar, maybe the military has decided to wrap this thing up. Could the timing have something to do with the democratic Iraqi government finally getting its act together. I hope so.

  6. MerlinOS2 says:

    Another one bites the dust, well at least is in custody

  7. Terrye says:

    Today has been a bloody day, but sometimes I wonder if that means the coalition is putting on more pressure.

    I doubt if it is random. It could well be that the terrorists are feeling the squeeze and terrorizing the locals and blowing up troops, reporters and civilians is the only way they know to maintain any power. This has to be self defeating the long run however.

  8. dgf says:

    Terrye —

    This has to be self defeating the long run however.

    You’d certainly think so. But truth be told, the run’s been pretty long for quite some time now.

    One would have thought that this terrific amount of terrorist activity would have alienated the population so that they would strongly co-operate with the US/Coalition (and Iraqi Gov’t resources) so as to quash at least the more Al-Qaeda-y elements in the insurgency.

    Unfortunately, a large part of the reason that the insurgency in general (including terrorist elements in it) has not been able to have been effectively dealt with is because of a number of fundamental errors the US made at the outset — the three most prominent (I think) being (1) our coming in with many too few troops for a proper occupation of the country, and then (2) disbanding the Iraqi army, (3) not being effective at reconstruction (which, inter alia, should have focused much more on getting ordinary Iraqis employed), and (4) not adjusting and changing course with respect to (1) – (3), quickly enough, after it became relatively clear that mistakes had been made.

    An awful lot of lives and an awful lot of money has been mis-spent.

    God willing, it’ll all get pretty rosey pretty quick, but I’ve got my doubts. It may not be salvageable.

    — Regards

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