More al Qaeda brass have been biting the dust in Iraq. Since February 24, one senior aide, Abu Asma, was killed during a raid while he was preparing to launch a murder-suicide attack in Iraq, and now, a senior aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bin Laden's choice to lead al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been captured with five associates by Iraqi forces. This is a sign that the Iraqi terror groups are rapidly running out of any local acquiescence whatsoever (never mind support).
The terrorists have certainly earned the hostility of average Iraqis of all stripes. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is one of those commanders who needed a good staff - because Zarqawi has not exactly shown to be a good operational or strategic thinker. His target selection for the first campaign of terrorism pushed the Sunnis into the political process due to their indiscriminate use of suicide bombing. Going after the Golden Mosque has turned out to be a bad decision, because the Shiites now hate him even more - and it nearly got the Sunnis into a lot of trouble. The Americans have earned a reputation for respecting mosques and endeavoring not to hit them. In one video that circulated on the Internet, an AC-130 crew is told of the location of a mosque and told not to fire on it. The terrorists have a reputation for using mosques as arms caches. A number of these were discovered in the effort to clear out Fallujah in 2004.
While the American media was discussing the likelihood of a sectarian civil war in Iraq, and at least one major commentator declared that Iraq was a lost cause, the Iraqi people took a much different course and appear to be on the way to proving them wrong. In some areas, local Shiites guarded Sunni mosques from retaliatory attacks. A Sunni group teamed up with the national government to donate $2.8 million to restore the mosque. These events were not reported in the MSM, but did get coverage from Kuwaiti media, and were reported in the blogosphere.
Short version - what was supposed to cause a civil war has instead pretty much pushed the Iraqis together. In essence, the bombing of the mosque has turned into a major self-inflicted defeat for Zarqawi. As a result, Zarqawi's days are numbered, since he is now losing staff while in increasingly hostile territory. - Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)