Tiny minority of extremists on the move. An interesting assessment from Major General Douglas Lute, who thinks the jihadists will ultimately be driven from Iraq. On what he bases this, I do not know, but it can’t be on the current headlines. From the Guardian, :
A senior US military officer yesterday predicted that al-Qaida fighters in Iraq will move to the “vast ungoverned spaces” of the Horn of Africa once conditions in the country get too tough for them.
The warning came from Major General Douglas Lute, director of operations at the US’ central command. “There will come a time when Zarqawi will face too much resistance in Iraq and will move on,” he predicted, referring to the head of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born Islamist who has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, kidnappings and beheadings.
Looking ahead to a time when he said Iraq would be “stabilised”, Gen Lute predicted that Zarqawi would take the “path of least resistance” and leave for such countries as Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
But before that, he suggested, Zarqawi would make a show of force in the run-up to the Iraqi constitutional referendum and subsequent elections. “He has to go down fighting,” he said.
Gen Lute said 90% of what he called the “enemy” in Iraq was domestic. There was only a “slither” of foreign fighters “sponsored from outside”.
He declined to put a figure on his estimate. Earlier this year, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said there were between 12,000 and 20,000 hardcore insurgents in Iraq.