Iraqis Hopeful After Zarqawi's Death

The news of the death of top terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi set off cheering in the streets of Baghdad, but CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Iraq that it also brought more violence.

On the streets of Baghdad there was jubilation.

"I think all people are happy about this news," said one Iraqi man.

Members of Iraq's security forces — some of Zarqawi's favorite targets — were among the most relieved.

"Now, God willing, things will settle down," an Iraqi man said.

But they haven't yet. At least five separate bombings killed another 40 people in Baghdad on Thursday. In the longer term, though, Iraq's national security adviser is optimistic.

"I expect a palpable, noticeable reduction in the number of attacks," said Mowafaq al-Rubaie.

But Americans have heard this before. Saddam Hussein's capture in December 2003 was also supposed to be a turning point in reducing violence. Instead, as it turned out, the insurgency was just warming up.

Zarqawi's elimination is different, insists the Iraqi government.

"Zarqawi is unique in a sense that he used … these spectacular attacks to create maximum casualties among civilians, indiscriminate killings of civilians, especially targeting Shia trying to incite civil war between the Shia and Sunnis," says al-Rubaie.

Zarqawi was responsible for many of Iraq's bloodiest and boldest attacks — including the bombing of the holy Shiite shrine in Samara, which touched off violence that killed more than 100 people.

Now that he's dead, the new Iraqi government hopes his foreign fighters will be left in disarray and that they can use the lull to persuade Iraqi Sunni insurgents to lay down their weapons.

That may be easier thanks to a compromise announced Thursday that shares the responsibility for Iraq's security forces between Sunnis and Shiites in the cabinet.

The new interior minister, Jawad al Boolani, a Shiite, told CBS News that he would be reaching out to Iraq's Sunnis.

"My message to all Iraqis," he said, "is that we will serve them in an unbiased and professional way."

At about the same time, there was a very different message on the Web site of al Qaeda from Iraq, where the group vowed to continue their jihad.

  • Joel Roberts

Comments

Follow Us