The Washington Post on the Iraqi reaction, interviews in a Shiite neighborhood.
Debka talks more about succession.
Note the conflicting reports: Ha’aretz suggests Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi and notes he was there when al-Zarqawi died, but Debka says al Qaeda has already named Abdallah bin Rashid al-Baghdadi. Meanwhile the most senior al-Qaeda figure in Iraqi is Wariya Arbili, and al-Qaeda also named Abdulhadi al-Iraqi as head of worldwide ops. Most of these people are largely unknown; note how many Iraqis are on this list, though, suggesting just how central Iraq has become to al-Qaeda in the post-Saddam era.
It’s possible that all of these reports are true: if so, there’s the opening for a really “interesting” succession battle. But that fight may be brief if one of the groups acts fast.
On a separate note, the Swiss government confirmed the breakup of a plot to shoot down an El Al airliner. This, the London cell, and the Toronto operation… there have been a lot of major terror operations broken up in the recent past.
Also the director of the Shin Bet (Israel’s rough equivalent of the FBI) warned the parliament that al Qaeda is setting up operations in Jerusalem and Nablus, which is probably a sign that things are about to heat up a lot.
Don’t forget the recent riots in Egypt, and the fact that Mubarak and Olmert recently had a summit which went fairly well; the conditions are ripe for a possible uprising in Egypt. If Mubarak can’t put it down, this likely means an Islamist regime there, which could lead to a domino effect heading east quickly – through Saudi, Kuwait and Jordan, and charging straight into Iraq, with Iran sitting on the opposite border.
Trouble ahead, but thwartable trouble. The best way to avoid it may be if Mubarak can be as ruthlessly efficient as Hafez al-Assad was at putting down popular insurrection.
(Yes, I just suggested thwarting a nascent popular uprising against a dictatorship as being a good thing. There are worse things than dictatorships, and these guys would be just the people to demonstrate that.)