Zarqawi's end is not a famous victory, nor will it bring Iraq
any nearer to peace
By Robert Fisk
-- -- So, it's another "mission
accomplished". The man immortalised by the Americans as the most
dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is
killed - by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not
even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force
- and Messrs Bush and Blair see fit to boast of his demise. To
this have our leaders descended. And how short are our memories.
"They seek him here, they seek him there.
"Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
"Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?
"That demned elusive Pimpernel?"
Sir Percy Blakeney, of course, eluded the revolutionary French.
But the Baroness Orczy - unlike Mr Bush - would scarcely have
bothered with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian thug whose
dubious allegiance to al-Qa'ida turned him in to another "Enemy
Number One" for those who believe they are fighting the eternal
"war on terror". For so short is our attention span - and Messrs
Bush and Blair, of course, rely on this - we have already
forgotten that our leaders' only interest in Zarqawi before the
illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was to propagate
the lie that Osama bin Laden was in cahoots with Saddam Hussein.
Because Zarqawi met Bin Laden in 2002 and then took up residence
in a squalid valley in northern Iraq - inside Kurdistan but well
outside the control of both the Kurds and Saddam - Messrs Bush
and Blair concocted the fable that this "proved" the essential
link between the Beast of Baghdad and the international crimes
against humanity of 11 September 2001. The date on which this
fictitious alliance was proclaimed - since it is far more
important, politically and historically, than the date of
Zarqawi's death - was 5 February 2003. The location of the lie
was the United Nations Security Council and the man who uttered
it was the then Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
What a sigh of relief there must have been in Washington that
Zarqawi was dead and not captured. He might have told the truth.
Yesterday, with an inevitability born of the utterly false
promise that the bloodbath in Iraq is yielding dividends, we
were supposed to believe that the death of Zarqawi was a famous
victory. The American press dusted off their favourite phrase:
"terrorist mastermind". No one, I suspect, will be able to claim
the $25m on his head - unless he was betrayed by his own hooded
gunmen - but the American military, stained by the blood of
Haditha, received a ritual pat on the back from the
Commander-in-Chief. They had got their man, the instigator of
civil war, the flame of sectarian hatred, the head chopper who
supposedly murdered Nicholas Berg. Maybe he was all these
things. Or maybe not. But it will bring the war no nearer to its
end, not because of the inevitable Islamist rhetoric about the
"thousand Zarqawis" who will take his place, but because
individuals no longer control - if they ever did - the inferno
of Iraq. Bin Laden's death would not damage al-Qa'ida now that
he - like a nuclear scientist who has built an atom bomb - has
created it. Zarqawi's demise - and only al-Qa'ida's killers
would have listened to him, not the ex-Iraqi army officers who
run the real Iraqi insurgency - will not make an iota of
difference to the slaughter in Mesopotamia.
Messrs Bush and Blair slyly admitted as much yesterday when they
warned that the insurgency would continue. But this raised
another question. Will the eventual departure of Bush and Blair
provide an opportunity to end this hell/ disaster? Or have the
results of their folly also taken on a life of their own,
unstoppable by any political change in Washington or London?
Already we forget the way in which the same American forces
credited with Zarqawi's death had proved only a few weeks ago
that he was a bumbling incompetent. The Beast of Ramadi - or
Fallujah or Baquba or wherever - had produced a videotape in
which he fired a light machine gun while promising victory to
Islam. Days later, the Americans showed the rough cuts of the
same video - in which Zarqawi could be seen pleading for help
from his comrades after a bullet jammed in the breech of the
In prison in Jordan, back in the days when he was a mafiosi
rather than a mahdi, Zarqawi would drape blankets around his
bed, curtains that would conceal him from his fellow prisoners,
a cave - a Bin Laden cave - from which he would emerge to stroke
or strike the men in his cell. Possessive of his wife, he left
her with so little money that she had to go out to work in his
native Zarqa. When his mother died, Zarqawi sent no condolences.
Like Bin Laden - the man of whom he was both beholden and
intensely jealous - he had already transmogrified, undergone
that essential transubstantiation of all violent men, from the
personal to the immaterial, from the uncertainty of life to the
certainty of death. Zarqawi's videotape was an act of extreme
vanity that may have led to his death and he may have made it,
subconsciously, to be his last message.
That the intelligence services of King Abdullah of Jordan -
descendant of the monarch whom Sir Winston Churchill plopped off
to the Hashemite throne - might have located Zarqawi's "safe
house" in Baquba was a suitably ironic historical act. The man
who believed in caliphates had struck at the kingdom - killing
60 innocents in three hotels - and the old colonial world had
struck back. A king's anger will embrace a duke or two. Even an
ex-jailbird. Which, in the end, is probably all that Zarqawi
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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