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Death of a Jailbird: Zarqawi's End is Not a Famous Victory
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 damned 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 February 5, 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 favorite 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.