Behind the headlines, the Bush administration is seeking to strengthen its influence in Iraq in the face of a weak and corrupt government that is ready to complete numerous contracts with oil companies. At the heart of United States strategy in Iraq remains the aim of securing ultimate control of what to it is Iraq’s most precious resource.
This assessment reinforces the argument made repeatedly in these columns since the launch of war in Iraq in 2003: that the United States will be in Iraq for decades. From Washington’s perspective, this is how it should be. From al-Qaida’s perspective too, the prospect is as welcome as can be. The devastating Algiers bombs – perpetrated by a group which chose to serve under the al-Qaida banner – is another reminder of the value of Iraq as a combat-training zone for the al-Qaida movement. That movement still sees a few months’ difficulty in Iraq as but a brief moment in a decades-long ambition.