Donald Sensing weighs in on the threats against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by what amounts to a group of Iraqi vigilantes.
Quite apart from whether Salvation Group can bump off or scare off Zarqawi and his foreign cohort, their declaration itself may denote an emerging Iraqi national identity. Once the people of Iraq begin to think of themselves first of all as Iraqis, and secondarily as members of certain tribes or even as Sunni/Shia Muslims, then it is much more likely democracy will take root and flourish.
A commenter on my previous post about thiswrote
As a one-time thing to deal with a particularly nasty human being, I can see how this might be “refreshing”, but if this becomes the way of things over there, I think it’s a sign of some serious long-term instability.
We don’t want a lot of unknown “good guys” running around with guns, shooting the people they think are the “bad guys”.
And I responded (in part)
Even if these guys don’t do anything, or if we shut them down (as best we can) they send a statement to the Iraqi people to offset the posturing and rhetoric of Darth Sadr and the like.
I’ve got to think that word of those Iraqi snipers in Najaf, whether true or not, whether they killed anyone or not, pulled more Iraqis together than it split apart. And I’m not aware of any effort on our part to quell the rumors or put an end to their operations.
This whole thing might be nothing more than a publicity campaign by either the US or by the Iraqi government. Or it might be an attempt to get some more cover for US troops or CIA agents to work the problem. Or it might be simple grandstanding by some Iraqis trying to get a little of the spotlight. Of course, it might be some well-meaning Iraqis who simply want the terrorists out of their country.
During the action-packed days of early April, I wrote
Iraqis need to begin ponying up because it is their future on the line. They need to become more invested in what’s going on, and they need to get their own heroes. Sure, I want them to like our military, but there will never be any true love for American soldiers in Iraq, and if only foreigners die in battles and attacks, the average Iraqi doesn’t stand to lose too much. If the guys on the lines (such as they are) are their own people, they’ll have a personal investment in things and another reason to support pacification.
Iraq needs some heroes. When Iraqis look at each other and ask “Where do we find men like that?”, we’ll be on the way. Maybe these vigilantes are a chance to establish some of that. A two-edged sword, to be sure, but a sword swinging with a legitimate purpose.