Jun 12, 2006
On June 8, George Bush announced the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man the U.S. had designated Public Enemy Number One in Iraq. But barely had Bush’s statement been read when questions arose about the details of the killing.
Zarqawi was supposedly killed in a “precision bombing” when two 500-pound bombs, dropped from an F-16, hit the house he was in. Photos show that the house was turned completely into a pile of rubble. But when the U.S. military displayed a large photo of Zarqawi to prove he was dead, his face seemed remarkably free of injuries.
So a new version of Zarqawi’s killing came out. He was not killed by the bombs immediately – badly wounded but still alive when troops arrived at the house. Then came another twist. It was said that Iraqi police, not U.S. troops, found the wounded Zarqawi first; that U.S. troops didn’t come until later. This, too, contradicted the initial story, namely that the bombing was ordered by the commander of the special U.S. commando unit that had surrounded the house.
And how did the commandos know where Zarqawi was? “An informer from within Zarqawi’s organization provided the information” was the answer – an informer that the U.S. military had been in touch with for quite a while. But then why did the U.S. wait so long to get him? Well, another unanswered question.
All this uncertainty, created by the U.S. military, opened the door for speculation – like the suggestion that Zarqawi was in reality eliminated by members of his own organization who wanted a change in policy. Along the same lines, a CIA official speculated that Zarqawi’s organization would now shift its strategy and attack Americans instead of Shiite Iraqis, as it had been doing lately. So, if anything, things would get worse for U.S. troops.
One thing is certain, though: the elimination of this supposedly important figure will not change anything about the situation in Iraq. Bush himself said it when, immediately after announcing Zarqawi’s death, he added: “We can expect the terrorists and insurgents to carry on without him. We can expect the sectarian violence to continue.”
What Bush didn’t say is why. Yes, everything indicates that the bloody chaos in Iraq will continue after Zarqawi’s death. And that’s because he was not the one who started it; nor was he a driving force behind it.
In fact, Bush himself is responsible for that – by sending the U.S. military to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq; by using ethnic militias against the population and thus starting a civil war; by condemning large parts of the Iraqi population to a life with unemployment and the constant threat of violence, crime, and in fact more terrorist attacks, with or without Zarqawi.