Zarqawi’s death

It is good news for US, and even better news for Iraq, that the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was finally killed last Wednesday by an American airstrike. The group that Zarqawi led, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, organised and carried out some of the most beastly bombings and beheadings of recent years. But as Americans discovered earlier, after Saddam Hussein’s two sons were killed and the dictator himself arrested, it will take far more than the elimination of a handful of iconic leaders to stem the tide of the Iraqi insurgency.

It will take, most of all, the consolidation of an effective Iraqi government of unity that can win the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs by respecting their religious and ethnic diversity, protecting their personal security and assuring them the essentials of modern life. These include, at a minimum, reliable electricity, decent hospitals and schools, and a functioning economy that generates adequate employment.

Zarqawi’s relationships with home-grown and with Qaeda leaders were often troubled. The circumstances of his death, however, could well erase all recollection of those differences in order to enshrine him as a useful martyr. In that new role, his memory could continue to haunt Iraq for some time to come. — The New York Times