Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi Media Week: I was on the road today so I was exposed to US media coverage of Zarqawi’s killing. Some of the “experts” they have on speak about a region—the Middle East—that I can’t even recognize from their analysis and generalization—and I am supposed to be a student of the region’s politics and society. The media out of ignorance and political subservience are so eager to hand deliver a political victory to Bush. You hear them talking about Zarqawi and you think that they are talking about Nasser. They talk about him as if he moved millions, or commanded thousands. This was a head of a gang, after all. The only book that really gives the real and accurate portrayal of him is the Arabic biography by Fu’ad Husayn although the latter is at times either scared or impressed by him. But he was never an ideologue of any sort, not even for the fanatical groups. Only Mary Anne Weaver in the Atlantic talks about the exaggeration of his role, even in Iraq. And Megan Stacks talks about him being more of a symbol than sweeping leader. And for years his gang did not even “qualify” to join Al-Qa`idah, so let us not be swept away with this frenzied coverage as much as the Bush administration is encouraging it with the leaks—there are good leaks and bad leaks, you know. In fact, I argued yesterday that the Iraqi insurgency will likely benefit from the death of Zarqawi. I should add that Al-Qa`idah may also very well benefit from the death of Zarqawi too. This man (especially with his graphic videoed butchery and his blatant calls for the murder of Shi`ites) was an embarrassment even to Al-Qa`idah’s image and propaganda, and to its operational capabilities. He clearly fell in love with the cameras and may have taken risks in that regard. His clowning-with-guns video may have helped in bringing about his demise. He was too showy and too publicity seeking—especially recently—for an organization that cultivates utmost secrecy. In fact, I shall raise this question: did Al-Qa`idah bring about his end? Did they deliberately betray him to put their own man in his place? And the letter yesterday by Abu `Abdur-Rahman Al-`Iraqi—his deputy—was notable for its rhetorical restraint. The statement—brief by the standards of the long-winded world of those groups—only spoke of his “good trace” in forming the Council (of “shura al-mujahidin). That was it. And Al-Qa`idah, while blatantly anti-Shi`ite, keeps its anti-Shi`ite bigotry out of its public rhetoric. And the speeches of Dhawahiri and Bin Laden steer away of it, for tactical purposes no doubt. An-Nahar’s Sahar B`asiri suggested that the killing of Zarqawi may be a result of Iranian help, but I doubt that personally. Less than 10% of attacks in Iraq are by the foreign groups, and Zarqawi does not control all of those groups. So it is some fraction of the 10%. From my visit in Lebanon last year, I came back with the firm belief that the Ba`th (or various sections of the Ba`th) is in charge of the insurgency in the country, and they are not in any way under the command of the Bin Ladenites who view them as infidels even if they may cooperate on some tactical or logistical matters. So the Ba`th may now feel free of this bloody stigma to pursue its own agenda. And who knows? Attacks on occupation troops without the car bombs may bring about more public support and sympathy especially that there are no signs that Bush is “making progress” in Iraq, except in the minds of those “experts” that Bush invited into the Oval Office. Is it not funny that Bush only invited “experts” who already agreed with him? I mean, what kind if new insights or advise can they bring when his advisors knew that those experts already support Bush and think that he is doing a great job? An American reporter was talking about the opinions of Iraqis today. But she was honest: she talked about “Iraqis I saw in the Green Zone.” I kid you not. She said that they seemed happy. She said that one Iraqi, in the Green Zone no less, told her: “Zarqawi. Boom. Boom.” That must have been insightful. She reported it after all. But then I was thinking: in every Middle East country were Western reporters report, they all operate out of a “Green Zone.” They all live and operate within a very small vicinity of the most Westernized section of the capital. I mean, how many of the Western reporters in Beirut know of the Southern Suburbs, or live there? It was amazing how you see different images on Arab TVs: even on Al-Arabiyya TV, the unofficial successor to Al-Hurra TV—Hurra what? On Arab TV, there were reports of support and sympathy among some elements of the population. But how could anybody see anything positive about Zarqawi, except those who only care about his anti-US message, although he has killed mostly Muslims, and mostly civilians. And is that Hamas statement mourning him accurate? I wanted to wait to see if this was an Israeli propaganda stunt. I also heard Sen. John (Mc)Wayne saying that Zarqawi wanted to “destroy America” and the West, no less. Was Zarqawi really planning to send his submarines and fighter jets against the US? That is scary. Jordanian Mukhabarat was bragging about “their role” although the Iraqi prime minister-under-foreign occupation denied that role yesterday. I heard that today and thought that the current king is far less intelligent than his father. His father kept those things in secret. He would not have bragged: this one is even leaking to the press the news of Fursan Al-Haqq (a special force that is managed by Jordanian Mukhabarat to track enemies of the US in Iraq). That was dumb too, but I want all Arab leaders to be dumb. Maybe that would undermine the longevity of their rule. Zarqawi’s fans and supporters in Lebanon are also funded by Hariri Inc (and by Najib Miqati). I heard that they are in mourning. Zarqawi has been killing innocent civilians in Iraq, but so has US troops and Shi`ite fanatical militias. I have been receiving information on the persecution and even murder of Palestinians in Iraq at the hands of the Badr militia. And was Israel the first country to use fighter jets as a weapon for assassination? It seems that this is now popular. I read that a woman and a child were also killed in the bombing. But don’t shed tears. I also read that the child was a “senior aide” to Zarqawi. Six other “senior aides” to Zarqawi were also killed. If I count the US news coverage of “senior aides” of Zarqwi, it would appear that Zarqawi’s army is equal in size to the Chinese Army. I read the column by `Abdul-Bari `Atawn today: and he is quite popular in the Arab world though his frequent media appearances on AlJazeera. But he could not get himself to say one negative word—not one—about Zarqawi. Why? He even spoke of his “courage.” But even the Islamist leader in Lebanon, Fathi Yakan (a fan of Bin Laden and founder of Al-Jama`ah Al-Islamiyyay) criticized Zarqawi in the piece in the Washington Post. I was watching the mourning tent of Zarqawi’s family in Jordan—it had the banner of a “wedding of martyrdom”. I am sure that half of the people in attendance were mukhabarat. We used to say that in every Abu Nidal’s cell: half were Jordanian mukhabarat and the other half were Mossad. And then, perhaps to provide me with materials for my blog, one US commander bragged about “a treasure trove” of information found on Zarqawi, or presumably in the rubble after the two bombs were dropped. But was this not the same “treasure trove” that was found in Saddam’s briefcase? See the archives for that magical briefcase. What kind of data was in it, and did help the US to end the insurgency then? And why do the media keep speaking about the “skill” and “effectiveness” of US military and intelligence when this capture, or bombing, was based—as it was in the case of Saddam’s capture—on a tip motivated by desire for the bounty. But if the tipster was a member of Zarqawi’s group, he would not get the money. Would US money go to Al-Qa`idah member? That would be illegal. On some Arabic channels the news from Iraq was not all about Zarqawi: it was also about bombings and killings and occupation of Iraq. All that is missing from US coverage. Bush scored a political victory, in their estimation. The news also covered the Israeli murder of Jamal Abu Samhadanah. I bet that the Dahlan gangs are providing the Israeli with “treasure trove” of intelligence on all Palestinian leaders and members. Is that not what they are for and why they are fully funded and equipped while the Palestinians are starving? And Al-Quds Al-`Arabi noted that the Iraqi prime minister-under-foreign occupation did not know of Zarqawi’s killing until 14 hours later, and this explains why he referred to the killing as “today” while it was really yesterday. Is it not hilarious or rather annoying when governments under foreign occupation like to act sovereign or independent? I mean, the driver of the secretary of the chef of the deputy US ambassador in Iraq has more power than the so-called prime minister. And my fears have been confirmed: Israel will increase its killing of Palestinians during the World Cup. The Arab masses now enter the “sleep of the cave people”, as we say in Arabic. The Arab masses don’t even seem to notice the daily murder of Palestinians anymore, and don’t even notice the starvation of the Palestinians people at the hands of Israel, US, EU, Arab governments, and UN. And US Special Forces had the house in which Zarqawi was located surrounded. So why did they not do the job of capturing him or even killing him? Why did they need fighter jets, I wonder? Are they not supposed to be the best of the US armed forces? And this blow up posters of pictures of dead people: do they not violate the Geneva Convention? But do the Geneva Convention apply to the only super power? In fact, in the case of Saddam’s sons, `Uday and Qusay—oh, sorry, according to common US pronunciation it should be spelled as Quuuuuuuuusaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy—their faces were so brunt and actually destroyed that US troops brought in plastic surgeons and make up artists to reconstitute their faces for the public pictures. In fact, I read that the plastic surgeons did such good jobs that the one we see as `Udayy was in fact Quuuusaaaaaaaaayyy, and vice versa. It is nice to be a power that adheres to no international rules, norms, or laws, and I am not talking about Israel here, although Israel is also in that special status. I bet that since I started writing this a “senior aide” to Zarqawi has been captured or killed.