2006 July 04 Tuesday
Zarqawi Death Did Not Slow Insurgency

US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had no impact on attacks.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC on US Independence Day, Mr Khalilzad said the death of Zarqawi - the then leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq - had encouraged "other insurgent groups to reach out, because some were intimidated by Zarqawi.

"But on the other hand, in terms of the level of violence, it has not had any impact at this point. As you know, the level of violence is still quite high," he said.

Let us all feign surprise and shock that the killing of Zarqawi by US forces had little or no impact on the death rate and the tempo of insurgent attacks. The spin masters around America's maximal leader proclaimed Zarqawi's death a great success. Surely the US effort "turned a corner" when Zarqawi died. The problem is we don't know what road we were on or what road we turned onto.

The BBC refers to Khalilzad as the "US ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad". Not to Iraq? Well, might have been a mistake on their part. Or maybe it is an accurate measure of his position. Certainly, whoever the US ambassador is in Kabul, Afghanistan represents the US to a "national" government which exercises sovereignty over a rather limited area. Similarly, in Iraq the "national" government doesn't have much sway over the Sunni Triangle, Kurdistan, or even Basra for that matter. When will the US appoint its first ambassador to Kurdistan?

Lest you think I ignore the good news from Iraq, oil exports are up.

BAGHDAD, Iraq Iraq is producing an average of 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, its highest level since the war began in 2003, an oil ministry spokesman said today.

Assem Jihad said 1.6 million barrels are being exported daily from the southern port of Basra, while 300,000 are being pumped from the northern city of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

An interesting article in the Boston Globe goes over the cessation of attacks on northern Iraq pipelines that allowed the big increase in Iraq oil exports through Turkey.

BEIJI, Iraq -- For more than two years the attacks came like clockwork. As soon as the military secured and workers repaired the pipelines from Iraq's northern oil fields insurgents would strike.

But roughly three weeks ago they suddenly stopped, letting crude oil flow freely from Iraq's vast reserves near Kirkuk.

Maybe the US military killed or captured some key figures who were coordinating pipeline attacks in order to boost profits from selling refined oil products brought to Turkey from Iraq by trucks.

The 3d Brigade, nicknamed the ``Rakkasans," has studied the intricate web of oil corruption near the refinery in Beiji as part of a renewed effort to restore the oil industry.

Working with other coalition and Iraqi soldiers, they targeted oil smugglers, who they believe are behind many of the attacks on the fuel export lines. The black market truckers buy gasoline or diesel at Iraq's government-subsidized prices and drive to Turkey to sell it for 10 times the amount, so official exports compete and cut into their profits.

Read that whole article. My guess: The insurgents/black marketeers who were profitting from the disruptions probably made a deal with a certain Baghdad insider (think former pal of Washington DC neoconservatives) to get a cut of the revenue that the "government" gets from the oil.

The secret to peace in Iraq: Figure out the identities of all the powerful insurgency leaders and bring them into the pay-off system. Can Ahmad the Thief figure out how to do this? Does he see it as in his best interest to do so?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 July 04 08:44 PM  Mideast Iraq Insurgency


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