The Significance of Zarqawi’s Death

Richard A. Falkenrath
Richard A. Falkenrath Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution

June 8, 2006

Follows Donald Rumsfeld, Barbara Starr, Carol Costello, and Ed Henry

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SOLEDAD O’BRIAN: Let’s get right to CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath. He’s in Washington this morning. Also a former advisor to President Bush.

Nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. Everyone continues to say, and has said throughout the morning, it’s not going to end the insurgency. This clearly is not going to end the insurgency. So what will it do?

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I think that’s right, it won’t end the insurgency. I think, though, it will help a lot with Iraq’s problem with foreign fighters. And you have basically three different conflicts going on in Iraq at the same time.

You have an insurgency that’s indigenous. It’s Iraqis fighting against the coalition. You have a sectarian conflict that’s very complex and multifaceted where Iraqis are killing Iraqis. And then on top of that you had a large number of foreign fighters that had gone into Iraq after the elimination of their sanctuary in Afghanistan and were adding flame to the fire, fuel to the fire, and attacking both Iraqi targets and coalition targets.

Zarqawi was their leader, the leader of these foreign fighters. And it is possible that the takedown of him and his — parts of his network will deal a very serious blow to the foreign fighters in Iraq, though probably not the domestic insurgency or the sectarian war.

S. O’BRIEN: What about this new successor that we heard about in one of these briefings, an Egyptian, apparently al-Masari, who, it is believed in Iraq, has experience with IEDs, et cetera? I mean isn’t this, as some have described it, you chop off the head and a new head grows back?

FALKENRATH: We’ll see. And I think Secretary Rumsfeld got this basically right that you know new figures will come up, but will they be as charismatic as Zarqawi, as effective operationally, as bold and courageous in their own warped framework as Zarqawi has been? I don’t know. We have to see if this person steps up.

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