Thursday, May 05, 2005


Strategy Page has an excellent summary of the current situation in Iraq, and the problems facing the terrorists. As reported in several media outlets, U.S. intelligence recently obtained a letter written to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, complaining about a lack of leadership and direction in the insurgency. According to the letter writer, Zarqawi keeps demanding more suicide attacks, without any apparent underlying strategy.

Reports from Iraq indicate that the terrorists are focusing heavily on Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) as their primary weapon of choice. VBIED attacks in Iraq spiked dramatically in April, reaching their highest totals since last November. By comparison, the number of violent incidents remained relatively unchanged, running about 400 a week across the country. That's a 5o% reduction from last November, suggesting that the level of violence has not increased, but rather, the terrorists are concentrating on VBIED attacks.

But to what end? As Zarqawi's lieutenant indicated, the wave of vehicle bombings is having little impact on the resolve of coalition forces and the Iraqi public. That, in turn, seems to be producing a schism within the ranks of Iraqi-born insurgents, with some suggesting that it may be time to end the uprising and cooperate with the new government in Baghdad.

Reports of a division in the terrorist camp are nothing new; more than two months ago, there were reports of overtures between some insurgent elements and the coalition. And, even if some sort of deal can be reached, it won't mean an end to the violence in Iraq. There are still enough fanatics, dead-enders and foreign-born terrorists to sustain a lower level of violence for months--perhaps years--to come.

But the insurgent camp is far from unified, and it appears that our security efforts are having an effect on their strategy and tactics. Nabbing Zarqawi would put a major dent in the terrorist network, and it looks like his days are now numbered.

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