Two weeks ago there were strong rumours that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was to step aside or had been pushed aside and that Iraqis were to take a lead role in the 'insurgency' in Iraq. The 'insurgency' is, in fact, a jihadist invasion by foreign fighters, which has some support among disaffected baathists. Now Zarqawi has sent out a video to reassert his control. This is his first video message, and the first time he has allowed himself to be photographed without a mask.
His messages were familiar. America will be defeated by God. He has to hope. It is clear that the Iraqi government and its allies will not be defeated by force of arms or by popular support. He claims that America wants to establish a zionist state in Iraq. No, what the coalition has already done, is to establish an IRAQI state in Iraq, replacing a family dictatorship.
It is clear that both of the disaffected groups - baathists and jihadist - in Iraq are on the retreat. Their ability to hit Iraq and its allies has been much reduced. The violence peaked 6-9 months ago. And now they are fighting among themselves.