Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I'd like to take this opportunity to correct certain factual errors in past posts. The worst offender was Zarqawi's Oath. Reader SN corrects on the relationship between Zaraqawi and the Ba'ath.

Your June 24 posting, to which there was a link in a forum I frequent, seems to imply that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is leading the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. I am unaware of any evidence to back this assertion. The Falluja insurgents, who are mostly Iraqi but have a strong Syrian contingent, mostly profess loyalty to the Islamic Scholars' Front, an overt organization based in western Baghdad, although the ISF almost certainly has no operational control of their actions. There is also an element, mostly former Republican Guard officers, claiming to be loyal to a reconstituted Baath party. I have heard this from colleagues who regularly travel to Falluja, but you should also be able to find it in any number of reports from the town, of which there are now a fair number. Most observers of the insurgency believe its leadership to be fairly decentralized. Zarqawi's operation may be tolerated by the Iraqi insurgents, but most disavow its actions and certainly do not submit to its authority. Also, I am unaware of any connection between al-Qaeda and Hizbullah, the Shia militia normally credited with having "harried" the Israelis out of Lebanon. While it's certainly possible that they talked, I would be very surprised, given Zarqawi's professed views on the Shia, that they had much of a connection.

This paints a much more detailed picture, with more actors than my bumbling charcterization. I sincerely regret the error and will be more careful with my research next time.