Bloggers discuss rumors that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, as well as news that Ariel Sharon is leaving his Likud Party to forge a new, liberal party. At the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington mobilizes anti-Wal-Mart sentiment.
Searching for Zarqawi: The Jerusalem Post reports that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the senior al-Qaida leader in Iraq, might have died in a group suicide Sunday, when eight terrorists surrounded by coalition forces performing a raid purportedly blew themselves up in Mosul. U.S. officials downplayed the possibility, but the military is conducting DNA tests nonetheless.
"I'm not even religious," writes Andy O'Reilly at The World Wide Rant. "But I'm almost willing to pray this is true. … I generally don't wish death upon anyone, but I'll make an exception for al-Zarqawi. Here's hoping it's good riddance."
Conservative Kevin Aylward is also ready to believe. "One fact in support of the theory that al-Zarqawi's luck may have finally run out is the vow from Jordan's King Abdullah II to 'take the fight' to … the Jordanian born al-Zarqawi," he writes at Wizbang. "With active engagement from Jordan's security and intelligence forces it's not hard to believe that al-Zarqawi's location could have been pinpointed."
"It would be great if this rumor turned out to be true, but at this time it remains unconfirmed and it seems that rumors like this are rarely confirmed," cautions conservative homemaker PoliPundit Lorie Byrd. Others harbor more substantive doubts. At the Counterterrorism Blog, Evan Kohlman reports that an al-Qaida supporter, claiming to know the identities of those killed, denies that Zarqawi was among the dead. "Certainly, Al-Qaida doesn't seem to have been at all fazed by the reported Mosul raid," he observes.
Attorney John Hinderaker of conservative coterie Power Lineis also skeptical. "The larger point, however, is that this is one more in a long series of successes against the terrorists: eight more of them have bitten the dust, probably based on intelligence received from the local population"
Some on the American left caution against what they see as premature, and overly militaristic, triumphalism. "The death if Zarqawi would be a positive step in fighting terrorism and, one hopes, suppressing the violence in Iraq," suggests prominent contributor Armando at liberal war room Daily Kos. "What it will not be however, is a solution for our troubles in Iraq, whose roots are political in nature," he says. "Zarqawi is not and has not been the source of our troubles in Iraq. It is the intractable political problems of the sectarian power struggle between Shia, Sunni and Kurd."
At Informed Comment, Middle East academic Juan Cole agrees, describing Zarqawi as merely a functionary. "If al-Zarqawi died or were captured, there would be many increasinlgy experienced guerrilla fighters to take his place," he writes. "Guerrilla movements … are social movements, and do not typically depend on one man."
Many bloggers are cheering a related story. Dr. Rusty Shackleford of My Pet Jawa, libertarian Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit, and many more point to heartening news that, in half-page newspaper advertisements Sunday, Zarqawi's family publicly disowned him.
Read more about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Sharon's third way: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced today that he was leaving the ruling Likud Party to establish a new, liberal party dedicated to the pursuit of "peace and tranquility" in the region. Sharon asked Israeli President Moshe Katsov to dissolve Parliament so that new elections could be held.
"It's about time," approves Zionist watchdog J. of Justify This! At Talking Points Memo, discriminating liberal Joshua Micah Marshall calls the developments "tectonic plates moving in Israeli politics…ones that seem likely to have deep repercussions throughout the region and even in the world."
Sharon is apparently hoping to further jettison the settler base he alienated earlier this year with his decision to pull out of Gaza, suggests Patrick al-Kafir, waging war on jihad at Clarity & Resolve. "I think he may win this coming March, and I think this current maneuver is pretty shrewd—ingenious, actually. He's got a vision to settle this Arab/Islamic terror issue once and for all, I think, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him transform that vision into reality." Meryl Yourish, a conservative Jewish teacher and techie living in Richmond, Va., agrees. "It is rather strange to be thinking of Ariel Sharon as a centrist, but the man is an incredibly astute politician. I'm saying right now that he's going to come through this crisis as Prime Minister, again"
Head Heeb Jonathan Edelstein, a lawyer in New York, predicts increasing party clarity as various political interests shuffle themselves out. "Instead of being several parties in one, the Likud will once again be the party of the nationalist right. The next election will see a fairly clear choice between three parties, each representing a different approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he writes.
Arianna vs. Wal-Mart: Hoping to direct readers' attention to the muckraking Wal-Mart movie, The High Cost of Low Price, blogmonger Arianna Huffington has assembled a remarkable coalition of the willing to denounce the corporate giant at Huffington Post.
"Wal-Mart sells itself as the all-American company, but it violates American family values every single day," blogs iconic Sen. Ted Kennedy. Renaissance-man RJ Eskow seconds the charge of corporate hypocrisy. "A population deprived of once-promised opportunities - for income, job security, and benefits - can only afford the least expensive items to make ends meet," he writes. "Wal-Mart lowers your living standards, then sells you the cheap goods that are all you can afford." Byron York of the National Review points out some of the movie's inaccuracies.
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