American Proscenium

After Zarqawi: The New Thirty Years’ War

When the U.S. government toppled Sad-dam Hussein in 2003, it thought regime change would help bring democracy to Iraq, and then to the rest of the region.  President Bush and his aides based their expectations on the premise that politics in the Middle East revolves around the relationship between individuals and the state, as it does in the West, and failed to recognize that, in that part of the world, people see politics as the balance of power among communities, as Vali Nasr, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs.

Indeed, rather than viewing the fall of Saddam as an occasion to create a liberal democracy, most Iraqis saw it as an opportunity to redress injustices in the distribution of power among the country’s major ethnic and religious groups.

Hence, while Bush-administration officials were celebrating the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and spinning it as another “turning point” in the “War on Terror,” the elimination of Zarqawi was seen in Iraq as another victory for the Shiites and their current Kurdish allies as they try to contain an insurgency led by various Sunni groups, such as former members of the Ba’ath regime and Islamist guerrillas, including foreign recruits such as the Jordanian Zarqawi (and, apparently, his Egyptian successor).  In fact, some analysts have speculated...

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