It’s a sad day for American politics when al-Jazeera sounds more intelligent, coherent, and fair than the campaign supporters of a major American presidential candidate. The Arab news agency presents four views on the meaning of Saddam’s capture:
Leading analysts and political commentators agree the capture of Saddam Hussein represents a coup for the US but questions remain about its repercussions. …
Toby Dodge, analyst at Warwick University and International Institute for Strategic Studies, UK: “His capture gives the United States a window of opportunity. If they redouble their efforts and increase their troop commitment, they could contain or even roll back the insurgency. But the temptation of Bush, facing a re-election campaign, will be to call this victory and cut and run. That would be a disaster for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the strategic interests of the United States in the region and beyond.”
Dodge makes a great point here — to paraphrase a bit from Winston Churchill, this is not the end, but it is the beginning of the end. Now is not the time to go squishy. Keep on the offensive and redouble our efforts to track down the leadership of the Fedayeen and other groups. Dodge obviously speaks from previous American action, and one can’t blame him for that. But I think the world understands that this President operates from a different philosophy, and I think that his tenacity will continue to surprise people.
Mustafa Alani, analyst at Royal United Services Institute in London: “”There will be a reduction in operations sponsored by former regime loyalists, but this is not the full story because they are not the only group involved. It won’t affect those by Iraqi or Arab mujahidin and might increase them because those who did not want to be branded as supporters of Saddam might now join a resistance with a more nationalist dimension.
For the Americans, after the failure to capture Usama bin Ladin after so many years, it is a propaganda coup, especially if he were captured alive. It’s an intelligence prize because they can get information from him about cells working now. And it’s a huge victory because he was the head of the regime and not like anyone else on the list of 55 most wanted.”
My hunch is that we will continue to see attacks for a few weeks while the Fedayeen shoot their magazines dry, but they will not be able to replace lost operatives and will have trouble hanging onto the following they have now. One or two more big captures and it’s probably all over. Iraqi enthusiasm for Saddam’s fall and the removal of that particular Sword of Damocles will exponentially increase their cooperation with Coalition forces to round up the rest of the Ba’ath remnants.
Read the rest; I find al-Jazeera’s open and fair approach refreshing.