Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Provoking and enabling

War has a way of making stupid and depraved atrocities look calculated and even strategic. So it was with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- diabolically brilliant, according to Condi Rice. And so it is with Zarqawi's successors, ISIS, who appear to have murdered Jordanian POW First. Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh by burning him alive. In all likelihood, on a day when Jordanians might have been asking why their King is paying massive hotel bills for Chris Christie, they'll instead rally around the government and perhaps support a punitive response. But even on those terms -- ISIS wants war, so they got it -- was it really their best move to kill their trump card in terms of splitting Jordan internally and from its allies in negotiations to get Moaz released?

UPDATE: Among the issues raised by the timeline of the pilot's murder is where the idea came from of swapping him for the Iraqi suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi. Days apart, the New York Times had one article reporting the general mystification about why ISIS would ask for a no-name prisoner in exchange, and another reporting that several weeks ago, it was the pilot's own tribe which suggested the idea.

FINAL UPDATE: Incidental detail in the Reuters story about the pilot's murder --

Islamic State grew out of the Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq and the civil war in Syria, in which an estimated 200,000 people have been killed since 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Tuesday that 51 civilians, including children, had been killed by Syrian air force strikes inside the country within the past day.