Earlier this morning, Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, appeared on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. He had interesting comments on the aftermath of Zarqawi’s death and future coalition troop levels. On Zarqawi:
[T]he medium-term effect of the departure and the death of Zarqawi is going to be huge on this organization, and not only on this organization, but on other groups, insurgent groups if you like. Because those people were reluctant and afraid, from Zarqawi, to join the political process. Now, the road is easy to go and to come back to the political process and to join the Iraqi people, and I believe this is going to encourage a lot of people from the insurgents, the nationalists, the former regime elements, Baathists, (inaudible) and religious extremists, they’re going to start joining the political process and joining the new Iraq.
[W]e found a lot of material in that place. We found the diaries. We found telephone numbers. We found computers, and we found — there was a database in that computer. And there was a lot of information carrying — Zarqawi used to carry with him. So it was very, very useful, not only to capture Zarqawi and get him out of the way of the Iraqi people, because he’s the number one enemy of the Iraqi people, it was the value of the information we got with him.
And that’s what I was referring to when I said we have done a lot of raids immediately after we got Zarqawi.
On troop levels:
I believe by the end of the year, of this year, I believe that the number of the multinational forces will be probably less than 100,000 in this country. And by the end of next year, most of the multinational forces will have gone home. And by middle of 2008, we will not see a lot of visibility, neither in the cities or in the towns of the multinational forces.
I was pleased to see, too, that al-Rubaie refused to take the bait on Haditha.