After Zarqawi

Patrick Cockburn

The history of the American and British intervention in Iraq has been littered with spurious turning points over the last three years. The latest is the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the best publicised of the insurgent leaders, by US laser-guided bombs on 7 June in a house in Diyala province, north-east of Baghdad. The career of Zarqawi in Iraq was very strange. He was an obscure figure until Colin Powell made him famous by denouncing him before the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003. Powell claimed that Zarqawi was not only a member of al-Qaida but linked to Saddam Hussein’s regime. Neither allegation was true, but together they met the political need to pretend that the invasion of Iraq was part of the war on terror.

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[*] Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation (Constable, 280 pp., £7.99, October 2005, 1 84529 254 5).