Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Conflicting Reports In The War On Terror

Carlotta Gall, the New York Times' excellent correspondent in Afghanistan, has a headline report this morning that the Taliban threat is growing in Afghanistan, as NATO forces that may not be as willing to fight as the Americans take over in the southern part of the country, next to Pakistan, which the Taliban use as a privileged sanctuary.

But the New York Times has also in recent days reported on possible strains among the terrorist leaders, with the Iraqi-based Al-Zarqawi emerging as a kind of rival to Osama bin Laden.

Also, it is reported that some Iraq1 insurgent groups are getting tired of the foreign Arab fighters in Iraq and there has been pressure on Zarqawi from that direction.

The hope, obviously, is that the terrorist front may be weakened and while an end to the insurgency is not in sight, we might be able to say, as Churchill once did when the Allies landed in North Africa in World War II. that "we have seen the end of the beginning" in the fight against our enemies.

It may be too early to be hopeful, but certainly there has been growing controversy in the Arab world over some of the policies of Zarqawi in Iraq, particularly the beheadings of hostages and the sectarian attacks against Shiites. These barbaric tactics are beginning to turn people off. And there are signs of a general reaction that is less extreme. Just this week, for instance, the Hamas government in the Palestinian territories took official exception to a fatwa issued by a cleric calling for YMCAs to be shut down, and last week the Hamas government criticized the latest bombing in Egypt. This is a welcome divergence from Hamas' recent support of the recent suicide bombing in Israel.

The naming of a new prime minister in Iraq has also inspired some hopes of progress in that country, although no one would say the problems there are close to being resolved.

At the same time, the Libyan leader, Al-Qaddafi, has gone off the deep end again after a period of relative moderation, saying in an interview in recent days that everything will be resolved when Europe and the U.S. adopt Islam as their religions.

When elephants fly, would be a sound response to such a ridiculous suggestion.

Nevertheless, we are perhaps in a more fluid period than in the past. The West has some opportunities if al-Zarqawi has indeed gone too far for the mass Arab population, and is coming under pressure even from the murderous Osama to moderate some of his practices.

It is still, needless to say, extremely important to kill or imprison the terrorist leaders, and more terror attacks will certainly occur. But such attacks as the one last fall on the wedding party in Amman, Jordan, seem in retrospect to have been an error by the terrorists.

Perhaps, if we hang in there, there may be a little light at the end of the tunnel.
But, of course, we have to be continually vigilant against any possibility that someone might try to use an atomic weapon or launch a chemical or biological attack against the U.S.


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