View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Good News from Iraq? 

The AP is reporting that a local, home-grown Iraqi group of indeterminite - well, everything - is taking on al-Zarqawi publicly, telling him to get out of Dodge, or face the consequences. This may or may not be a good thing.

A group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened Tuesday to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.

The threats revealed the deep anger many Iraqis, including insurgent groups, feel toward foreign fighters, whom many consider as illegitimate a presence here as the 160,000 U.S. and other coalition troops.

In a videotape sent to the al-Arabiya television station, a group calling itself the "Salvation Movement," questioned how al-Zarqawi could use Islam to justify the killing of innocent civilians, the targeting of government officials and the kidnapping and beheading of foreigners.

"He must leave Iraq immediately, he and his followers and everyone who gives shelter to him and his criminal actions," said a man on the video.

The video marked the first time that an Iraqi group made such a public threat against al-Zarqawi.

Now, on the surface this certainly looks hopeful. If it's the beginning of Iraqis themselves retaking possession of their country and their religion, it's hopeful. But I can think of a lot more ways this is bad than good.

In the first place, if the group has higher political aspirations, they may capitalize on any success to further those. It's probably unhealthy for a democracy to be encouraging political success through violence. This group doesn't seem to be under the control of the government, and doesn't seem to like us, much, either. They could turn out to be a gun aimed at us. Even if they are what they seem to be, an amateur political player is frequently prey for more professional organizations. If Saddam still has any friends, they could infiltrate or subvert the group to their own purposes.

Assuming everything is on the up-and-up, I'd still like to see some professions of loyalty to the new government from these guys, before we start rejoicing too heartily at Iraqi public-spiritedness.

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