Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is Al-Qaeda's point man on Iraq. Before March 2003 it was his job to negotiate an alliance between Al-Qaeda and Saddam. Despite some co-operation against the Kurds in northern Iraq, he was never wholly successful. While the precise relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden is unknown, and may always remain so, it seems to have been no stronger than a wary co-operation at best.
Since March 2003 he has had a different job. It is one with two major tasks: to drive Coalition troops out of Iraq and to destroy any prospect for democratic governance there. There are three rules governing this conflict which Zarqawi needs to bear in mind:
Rule One: you can't win. You tried to stop the first election. You tried to stop the constitutional referendum. You tried to stop the second election. You tried to ignite inter-ethnic and sectarian violence to kick off a civil war. You failed on all four counts. Democratic governance and increased security are becoming embedded in Iraq.
Rule Two: you can't draw. The oil price remains high, so there is a flow of cash to restore the shattered infrastructure. When this is achieved, and security is restored, the end of the sanctions that were in place for more than a decade will ensure a cascade of wealth to Iraq's people. Iraq has a longer history even than Egypt, and is sure to benefit from a tourist boom. It will become a model for the whole of the Arab world.
Rule Three: you can't quit the game. The spread of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and the Internet will show Arabs right across the Middle East the success of democratic governance and economic development. A free Iraq is a permanent threat to other Arab tyrannies: a new shining city on a hill. Freedom is on the march, and it will not be thwarted.