Sunday, November 20, 2005

Day late, dinar short: In re blowback 

Apparently proudly decapitating innocent people wasn't enough for Abu Masab al-Zarqawi's family to denounce him. For that, he had to attack Jordan. A day late and a dinar short, Zarqawi is persona non grata in his own home:
The family of al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, reiterated their strong allegiance to Jordan's King Abdullah II in half-page advertisements in the kingdom's three main newspapers. Al-Zarqawi threatened to kill the king in an audiotape released Friday.

"A Jordanian doesn't stab himself with his own spear," said the statement by 57 members of the al-Khalayleh family, including al-Zarqawi's brother and cousin. "We sever links with him until doomsday."

The A.P.'s reporter, one Jamal Halaby (who bizarrely shares the same last name as the last Queen of Jordan, Princeton's own Lisa Halaby), suggests that "[t]he statement is a serious blow to al-Zarqawi, who no longer will enjoy the protection of his tribe and whose family members may seek to kill him." This is plausible, because Zarqawi was released from prison in Jordan in the first place through the good offices of his tribe:
The al-Khalayleh tribe is a branch of the Bani Hassan, one of the area's largest and most prominent Bedouin tribes, which help form the bedrock of support for the royal family's Hashemite dynasty.

Relatives hold senior posts in the army and other government departments.

Al-Zarqawi often boasted of his family's influence when he was jailed in his native Jordan, said Yousef al-Rababaah, an ex-convict who shared al-Zarqawi's cellblock for four years until both were freed under a royal amnesty in 1999.

"Prison wardens and other prisoners feared him because of his family connections and influence," he told The Associated Press recently.

Now, the tribe not only has renounced Zarqawi, it has assumed the burden of hunting him down:
"If my son was a terrorist, I wouldn't hesitate to kill him," family member Mousa al-Khalayleh said during Friday's rally, claiming he spoke on behalf of the tribe. "This is the slogan raised by the tribe as of this moment."

Such are the wages of shitting in one's own nest.

There are three fairly obvious points that flow from this, all of which are familiar to our regular readers, perhaps to the point of tedium. First, Zarqawi's tribe bears no small responsibility for failing to renounce him and his war until now. Where were these people for the last thirty months, other than being a "bedrock of support" for the Hashemite dynasty? Yet more evidence that however "friendly" the kings of the Middle East may be to the United States or "moderate" in their politics, they sleep with our mortal enemies.

Second, "blowback" is as much a problem for al Qaeda as it is for the United States. Indeed, all war generates blowback. Our objective must not be to avoid our own blowback, but to shape the blowback against al Qaeda into a strategic victory for the United States.

Third, the shaping of that blowback against al Qaeda -- and strategic victory -- requires that we create more enemies of al Qaeda within the Arab world. We create some of these enemies by moral suasion -- getting people to agree with our view of the world instead of their's. We create other enemies of al Qaeda by coercion -- have you noticed that every time the government of Pakistan seems to waiver in favor of the Islamists, the United States Air Force conducts war games with India? We create some of these enemies by evidencing our own commitment -- have you noticed that Saudi Arabia did not go to war against al Qaeda until the United States had put boots into Iraq and thereby reassured the House of Saud that it would not shrink from its engagement in the Arab world? We create enemies of al Qaeda by giving them something to fight for -- hence the realist case for the democratization strategy. Finally, we create enemies of al Qaeda by forcing them to fight the war on our terms, in a time and place of our choosing. This we have done in Iraq. When you ambush your enemy, when you throw them off balance, they do stupid things. We are forcing al Qaeda to flail around, attacking apostates and infidels willy-nilly, at enormous cost to their own credibility.

If we are to win this war, we have to get over the idea that the key to victory is creating "friends." The key to victory is in creating enemies of our enemy. Yes, in so doing we may plant the seeds of future conflict, just as we did when we rescued the Soviet Union from Germany and Afghanistan from the Soviet Union. But we did the right thing in supporting the Soviets to win the war against Hitler, and we did the right thing in supporting the mujahadeen to win the war against the Soviets. Now we are winning the war against al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism, which is more important than worrying about enemies not yet born.

Stay the course.

UPDATE: Cat 5 blowback? Let's hope so.


By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Nov 20, 06:58:00 PM:

Perhaps my tin-foil hat is showing but I think you may have things the wrong way around, Tigerhawk. Another possible explanation is that Zarqawi's clan and family are already aware of his death and they're seizing the opportunity to denounce him now in the strongest possible terms (without any real repercussions since he's already dead) and avoid the blowback that's coming their way.

I seem to recall that their was a lot of clan vengeance after the Black September stuff went down in Jordan quite some little while ago.  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sun Nov 20, 07:38:00 PM:

Meh, a gift horse with rotten teeth is still a gift horse ;->  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 21, 08:59:00 AM:

Some strong arguments here. But he bizarre Halaby Halaby comment is um a bit bizarre. I can only imagine what you might say if CBS reporter John Roberts were to bizarrely report on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Oy.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Nov 21, 11:45:00 PM:

Heretik - Fair enough. I have no clue how common a name Halaby is. Looked at your way, it is a silly point.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 17, 11:05:00 AM:

Re: Halaby - I think TigerHawk wanted to brag about a Princeton connection, however tenuous. :-)

- '91 Tiger  

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