Saturday, June 10, 2006

Babylon and al-Zarqawi - Jun 10

As you all well know by now, the very notorious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead. While the MSM debates the who's and why's, I think the better question is what. As in what's next? Everybody is saying the right things, "This is not the end of violence in Iraq", "There's still a lot of work to be done" etcetera. From a Biblical perspective, I think this is a big step forward in creating a literal 'Babylon' in today's war-torn Iraq. A 'Triumph of the Will' if you will. The belief of Man's rationalism over a 'superstitious' belief in God got started with Nimrod in the book of Genesis in Iraq. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden occurred in Iraq. The Bible specifically mentions the Tigris and Euphrates as Eden's boundaries. In the Book of the Revelation (of Jesus Christ), the Euphrates river is mentioned as it literally dries up to make way for the Kings of the East at Armageddon. Here's a link from Rapture Ready on Iraq and it's end-time significance:

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

The Man in Black

Stratfor -- Predictive, Insightful, Global Intelligence


Geopolitical Diary: Al-Zarqawi and the Tipping Point
Jun 09, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed June 7 near the Iraqi town of Hibhib, northwest of Baqubah.

According to most reports -- and reports on exactly what happened have been sketchy and changing -- the house he and his staff were in was under the surveillance of U.S. special operations teams, and an airstrike by F-16s destroyed the house. The Americans received highly reliable intelligence about his location and were certain he was in the house.

Within minutes of announcing al-Zarqawi's death, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the resolution of the political crisis that had paralyzed Iraq's new government. Shia were named as the ministers of national security and the interior, and a Sunni was given the defense portfolio. Obviously the deal was in place prior to al-Zarqawi's death. It was made official and announced as soon as his death was confirmed. This may have been coincidence, but we tend to doubt it.

As we have been arguing for the past few weeks, we are now at the break point in Iraq. The Sunnis and Shia have reached a political settlement regarding the new government. The critical question has been whether the political settlement would translate into a shift in military operations. There could be no settlement without the Sunnis dealing with al-Zarqawi. The Shia hated al-Zarqawi with a passion -- he had been focusing on killing Shia more than Americans. Once al-Zarqawi was dealt with, the political settlement could proceed and immediately did.

Immediately after al-Zarqawi's death, the United States carried out 17 additional raids against his network. Clearly, somebody painted that network with exquisite care for the Americans. Whoever it was had to have superb intelligence about a highly compartmentalized operation. It is possible that a single person provided all this, but we find it more likely that it was compiled from a number of sources. To be more precise, our guess would be that the Sunni political leadership orchestrated the intelligence in order to allow the Americans to deal with al-Zarqawi while giving themselves plausible deniability in the Sunni community. There could be another explanation, but all this broke too neatly to be coincidence -- and, moreover, it flowed logically from the political situation. As we have been arguing, something like this ought to happen about now. It has.

The important question now is what happens going forward. If the Sunni political leadership did finger al-Zarqawi, then they should also be having their own insurgents, the ones they control directly, reduce operations. This is a bit simplistic, but roughly, the jihadists did suicide bombings while the Baathists and nationalists focused on improvised explosive devices and small unit actions. There should be a decline in these last two types of activity. Even if the al-Zarqawi network is shattered, there will be some outlying units that might carry out further bombings -- and, in fact, we do not know at this moment whether the network is shattered.

Either way, there should be a falloff of insurgent activities if the Sunnis are serious about going the political route. Friday is the Muslim Sabbath and weekly sermons are going to be given throughout Iraq. This will be the first glimpse of whether the Sunni leadership will call for some sort of cease-fire, or for vengeance for al-Zarqawi's death. It also will be the first time we will know what the Shiite clerics are saying about stopping operations against the Sunnis, now that al-Zarqawi is gone.

If this is in fact part of a political process, rather than an isolated intelligence coup, then we should see the falloff in insurgent and militia activity fairly quickly. Given the thread of our analysis, we have to see this as part of the political process. Certainly it is hard to explain the speed with which the Cabinet appointments were made -- without prior announcement -- except in the context of al-Zarqawi's death.

If we are right and this is the tipping point, then things just tipped toward a political settlement. This will become clearer over the next few days. Violence will certainly not disappear, but it should reduce itself rather rapidly if the Sunni and Shiite leadership have put out the word. We thought this was the week for something to happen, and something has. Now to find out if it was what we were waiting for, and to find out if it will work.

Copyright 2006 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.

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