The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a coordinated assault reportedly involving U.S. and Iraqi forces and including help from Jordan’s intelligence services is a tremendous step forward in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. But his death will only point the way forward towards peace in Iraq if the United States redefines its strategic mission there and in Afghanistan, Somalia and other hotspots to take on the global threat of Islamic extremists.
No single terrorist leader in Iraq commands the chaotic swirl of terror cells and insurgents in the country. This means Zarqawi’s death is not the beginning of the end of violence in Iraq. Rather, it signals an opportunity to redefine America’s mission in the country to better fight global terrorist networks and give Iraq’s nascent government a chance to find its feet. The news today that Iraq’s new prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, at long last filled the critical defense, interior and national security minister positions is another step in the right direction.
But the two developments don’t mean our job is finished in Iraq. The attacks and killings will continue — including a major bombing in a Baghdad market that killed scores of Iraqis right after Prime Minister Maliki announced Zarqawi’s death. We need to intensify our diplomatic efforts to help Iraqis strike the power-sharing deals needed to stabilize their country and work to organize a peace and stability process for Iraq.
The Center for American Progress has proposed a major policy shift for America in the war against terrorism. In our “Strategic Redeployment 2.0,” by the Center’s Larry Korb and Brian Katulis, we offer a comprehensive plan for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2007 in order to tackle the rising threat of global terror networks elsewhere.
See our plan here: