There are never so many complications in Iraq that a new one can't be thrown into the mix.
The interim government of Iyad Allawi, backed by U.S. and multinational forces, is struggling to check the violence ordered by Jordanian militant and suspected al-Qaeda collaborator Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Mr. al-Zarqawi, who has called for the assassination of Prime Minister Allawi, has directed a series of murderous attacks on police stations and other targets, including the May 17 murder of Izzadine Saleem (then president of the since-replaced governing council), a June 14 attack on electrical contractors that killed 13 and injured 62, and the beheadings of U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il. In Fallujah, 50 kilometres west of Baghdad, U.S. planes have been dropping bombs on buildings believed to be safe houses for Mr. al-Zarqawi's insurgents. Mr. Allawi, in a bid to be seen in control of the country after the handover of power by the United States, announced that the latest U.S. strike was carried out at his behest, on military intelligence his government supplied to the Americans.
Now a group of men carrying rocket-propelled grenades, using scarves to mask their faces and speaking in true Iraqi accents have appeared in a videotape sent to al-Arabiya television, but theirs is not the message the world has grown weary of hearing from such tapes. They want the terrorists out. Calling themselves the Salvation Movement, they threaten to kill Mr. al-Zarqawi unless he leaves the country, and cite among his crimes the murder of innocent Iraqis and the defiling of Islam. "If you don't stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do."
The first question is who these masked men are. Are they acting independently of the government and the coalition, as it would appear? The second question is where this movement, if it is a movement, is headed. The last thing Iraq needs is more violence from a shadowy armed faction. If their message is genuine, there is cause here for optimism: that even as some Iraqis kill their countrymen and women in a fight to block Iraq's progress toward an elected government, others are unwilling to see such battles fought in their name. They believe, rightly, that the violence by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is against the interests of Iraq, of Iraqis and of Islam. Ultimately, however, it is the job of Iraq's authorities, with unmasked faces, to stand up against all lawlessness.