You might ask what the downside to any of this is. And it’s not readily apparent at first. AQI turned Iraq into hell back when we were there, but we’re no longer there, and its current plans for killing Shiites in Lebanon and even Iran, are not exactly cause for urgent action on our part.
A fight between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda ought to be welcomed and Al Qaeda’s swing into Takfirism is a great thing. It means Muslim terrorists killing each other as their first priority.
But on the other hand, the situation not only highlights the flaws of Obama’s Iraq policy, they pose a greater threat. For the moment AQI is happy to kill Shiites, but it’s gathering numbers and polishing skills that will be put to use against us.
The AQI chem weapons lab in Iraq that apparently panicked the Iraqi Shiite government into ordering a billion dollars worth of chem weapons gear from the US was first aimed at the Shiites and then at us.
In a game of terrorist vs terrorist, the losing side may have its capabilities degraded, but the winning side will emerge bigger and stronger and more dangerous than ever.
Today, Zarqawi’s successor, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (a nom de guerre), aspires to outdo his mentor. He orchestrated the massive attacks on two prisons in July that freed hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists. Baghdadi, also called Abu D’ua, has announced al Qaeda’s front group in Iraq had been expanded to be the Islamic State of Iraq and al Shams. Al Shams means greater Syria—that is all of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
The Syrian Mohammad al Golani, who is the leader of al-Nusra Front, worked with Zarqawi in Iraq a decade ago. His group initially tried to play down its sectarian nature in Syria somewhat but now it uses all the symbols of Zarqawi, including his flag and much of his rhetoric about Iran and Hezbollah.
The State Department this weekend said Baghdadi has now transferred his base into Syria, probably to make it harder for the Maliki government to find him.
The analogy here is to Pakistan and Afghanistan. We may be in the early stages of something that can truly shake up the Middle East in ways that make the naive wordvomit over the Arab Spring seem that much more laughable.
The region is tribal. It’s divided by ethnicity, religion and family. Now imagine all those constructed governments coming apart as those forces tear through them.
That may be the near future.