Killing of top al-Qaida leaders to improve current security situation in Iraq?

08:32, April 20, 2010      

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Two top al-Qaida leaders in Iraq have recently been killed in a joint operation in north of Baghdad by U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces, but questions remain on whether this will greatly improve Iraq's fragile security.

"A cell from our intelligence killed Abu Omer al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Musri during operation in Tharthar area in north of Baghdad," incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told reporters in a televised news conference Monday.

Baghdadi is the head of the self-style Islamic State of Iraq, which is an al-Qaida-led umbrella organization of extremist Sunni militants groups. Musri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, is the top leader of al-Qaida in Iraq network, who replaced the former Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike on June 7, 2006.


Considering a string of deadly bombing attacks against government buildings and foreign embassies from last year by the two men, some local analysts believe it was a big victory for the country's security forces, who was blamed for failing to protect civilians against terrorists.

"I believe the killing of Abu Omer al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al- Musri is a big victory for the Iraqi security forces, which will positively improve the security situation and stability throughout the country," said Sabah al-Sheikh, a political professor in Baghdad University.

"The strike is painful for the al-Qaida group, which will negatively affect the morale of al-Qaida elements. Some will escape and others will no longer work for them," Sheikh told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, he said the operation will also greatly encourage the Iraqi security forces, "people will cooperate more with security forces to get rid of the violence from which they have suffered a lot in the past years," he added.


Shortly after the declaration of Maliki, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and top U.S. military commander in Iraq Raymond Odierno said "the death of these two terrorists is a potentially devastating blow to al-Qaida in Iraq" since the beginning of the insurgency.

However, a media man who refused to be named, told Xinhua he did not believe it will fundamentally improve the current situation.

"The elimination of one or two terrorist leaders means few for the whole security situation. Let's recall the case of Zarqawi, the U.S. and Iraqi government thought the killing of him was a great victory, however, has the security got better after 2006?" he said.

"The real and most crucial tension in Iraq is caused by the sectarian issue, which is the key problem. if the new government cannot be formed smoothly and fail to include all major elements in Iraq, trust me, the situation is going to be worse," said the media man.

"Compare to the possible sectarian conflicts, al-Qaida means much less, they can just add some troubles," he said, adding "al- Qaida will have no place to survive in Iraq if this country makes a national reconciliation in the near future."

Analysts also warned the surviving elements of al-Qaida may seek revenge after their leaders were killed.

"The Iraqi security forces should not relax after the killings of Baghdadi and Musri, because some of their followers who are still free, will plan to take revenge anyhow, so the Iraqi forces should strengthen their security measures and activate the intelligence activities to eliminate remains of these groups to get rid of evils," said Sheikh.


Maliki's political bloc State of Law is currently busy haggling with others to form a new government after the controversial parliamentary elections, especially with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqia bloc.

Under Maliki's request and pressure, the electoral commission on Monday said it would recount the ballots in Baghdad. Since there's only slim gap between Maliki and Allawi, the move could easily change the election results and lead the country into a more complex situation.

Some analysts said the killings of Baghdadi and Musri will strongly help Maliki to seek a coalition with other blocs and form a new cabinet.

"Even the killing has few impact on the whole security in the future, Maliki could still gain some advantages through this incident, since Iraqi people were used to blaming him for failing to protect them from being harmed by terrorist attacks," said the local media man on condition of anonymity.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the operation targeting the two leaders showed the growing capability of Iraqi security forces.

"Anyway, Iraqi forces did a good job this time, somehow it has boosted Maliki's standing and popularity at this crucial time," said the media man.



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