Invasion leader killed in Iraq

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda's invasion force in Iraq, has been killed by the Iraqi nation's allies.

Iraqi people are celebrating this important victory.

It throws into question the whole status of both the Al-Qaeda invasion, and the linked terrorism by Iraqi baathists. After the violence level peaked in the summer and autumn of last year, there was a terrorist leadership crisis in the spring of 2006. The ability of the so called insurgency to attack Iraqi and allied targets had been greatly diminished, and Iraqi malcontents made an attempt to take over the leadership of the 'insurgency' from Zarqawi. They failed. Bin Laden and Zarqawi both put out video statements - a PR offensive to make up for their inability to deliver militarily.

The past two months have seen an uptick in violence, probably reflecting Zarqawi's attempt to prove himself as a leader, and hold onto control of both Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the 'insurgency'.

The immediate results of Zarqawi's death are difficult to predict. There will certainly be a battle for supremacy between Iraqi baathists and Al-Qaeda's operatives in Iraq. This may lead to greater levels of overall violence - though it is possible that much of it will be internally directed within the terrorist forces, rather than against the Iraqi government and its allies.

Whoever emerges as the new leader will try to increase the ferocity of the 'insurgency' - but the long term decline in violence levels over the past 12 months suggest that support is drying up and the ability of the Iraqi government to police the country is improving. The battle will certainly be joined for Zarqawi's job - but it is probably not a job worth having.

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