Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq has been killed in a US airstrike near Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi was killed alongside with his spiritual advisor by two 500lbs bombs. Al-Qaeda websites have confirmed that the terrorist leader is dead.
This is an important moral victory for Iraq and the coalition, even if it won’t necessarily have much impact on the overall insurgency – al-Qaeda in Iraq had all but been smashed before, and this finally cements their fate.
The new Iraqi government is building a political process. Removing Zarqawi forwards that process. Maliki has also promised the Iraqi people he will improve the internal security situation. Maliki can use Zarqawiâ€™s death to help heal sectarian (Sunni-Shia) rifts in Iraq.
In related news, al-Maliki has filled the Interior Minister and Defense Minister slots of his cabinet, completing the new government. This is the best day for Iraq since the capture of Saddam Hussein over two years ago.
The people of Iraq really deserve this. After months of continuous bad news, uncertainty, and violence, it’s about time their chief enemy got the justice he so richly deserved. With al-Maliki having a complete cabinet, could this be the turning point for Iraq? It’s always premature to guess until that point is reached, but at least there is a new sense of hope this morning.