Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 8:08 am

The operation to get control of the streets in Iraq’s capitol is apparently underway according to both AFP and Omar of Iraq the Model.

AFP is reporting that one of the initial operations is mainly made up of Americans:

Iraqi and US forces have pushed deep into one of Baghdad’s most notorious Sunni bastions, making arrests and seizing weapons as part of a new plan to overrun insurgent strongholds in the capital.

The US military, meanwhile, said Wednesday it was probing reports of another helicopter crash near Baghdad.

A US military official said a crackdown on Sunni insurgents in the northeastern Adhamiyah district of the Iraqi capital began Tuesday in an operation involving some 2,000 US troops and hundreds of Iraqi soldiers.

According to an AFP photographer embedded with the US military more than a dozen people were detained overnight and large numbers of weapons seized.

Major Robie Parke of 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team said the security sweep in the Shaab and Ur areas of Adhamiyah marked the start of the much-vaunted crackdown by US and Iraqi forces against Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents in Baghdad.

“Iraqi and US forces conducted clearing operations in Adhamiyah today, which is the beginning of the new security plan,” Parke told AFP late Tuesday.

“Operation Arrowhead Strike Six” is apparently only one of the thrusts planned to clear the capitol of insurgents and blunt the activities of the death squads:

One US officer who asked not to be identified told AFP the operation would set the conditions for a “control and retain” force to move into Shaab and Ur and establish combat outposts in conjunction with Iraqi security forces.

The high-ranking US army official stressed that the Baghdad security plan was a process involving a broad range of troop and logistics movements as well as strategic planning.

“The process has already begun. The Baghdad security plan is a process, it’s a long operation, it’s not going to be a three day operation or a three week operation,” the officer said.

“You have to look at the whole process instead of just thinking in terms of a raid, or an operation in one of the districts, it’s much, much larger than that.”

As usual, the Iraqis are slow, disorganized, and have been hampered by sectarian squabbling over the command structure:

Pressure is increasing on the Maliki government to show signs of progress on the security plan that was announced more than a month ago, especially after three weeks of bloody violence that has killed 3,000 civilians.

Mr. Maliki made it clear to the commanders that they needed to show results soon. “I call on you to quickly finish the preparations so that we don’t disappoint people,” he said.

Mr. Maliki offered no reasons for the delay, but Iraqi military officials have expressed frustration over the slow pace and have cited several problems, including the failure of Iraqi troops from other parts of the country to arrive on schedule in Baghdad, the capital.

The choice of top commanders, drawn from the army and the police, has largely been settled, the officials said, but was slowed by sectarian disagreements, with Shiites objecting to Sunnis and Sunnis objecting to Shiites.

Integrating the Iraqi police force with the army, essential to the plan, remains a problem, officers say. Some Sunni neighborhoods remain off limits to the police, because they are thought to be deeply infiltrated by Shiite militias and are widely distrusted by Sunni residents.

This is actually the second Baghdad security plan signed off on by Maliki. The original plan back in July called for upwards of 10,000 Iraqi troops and policemen to set up check points and patrol neighborhoods while American forces (augmented by around 5,000 in early July) carried out “sweep, clear, and hold” operations, handing over control of pacified areas to Iraqi police and army units.

Of course, Maliki couldn’t get 10,000 troops to come to Baghdad. Kurdish units in the north balked at the idea of patrolling the streets of Baghdad and mutinied, according to US Army sources. And Sunnis were reluctant to go after their co-religionists who were part of the insurgency. In the end, Maliki was able to scrape together less than 4,000 troops which, by the middle of September, it became apparent that the forces he had were inadequate to meet the security challenge.

This is where the second security plan came in. It envisioned up to an additional 17,000 American troops for Baghdad - the “surge” announced by the President - but also another 20,000 Iraqi troops divided between east and west Baghdad with an Iraqi commander in overall control. No word yet on whether Maliki has been able to achieve the troop levels he called for.

But we do know that he has enough to begin operations. This includes moving joint American and Iraqi forces into Baghdad neighborhoods to establish a permanent presence:

American officers said the new plan, under which an additional 17,000 American forces are to be deployed in Baghdad, would not necessarily have an official start. They said it would be more accurate to describe the effort as a broader strategy shift that would put American troops in Baghdad neighborhoods in more aggressive ways, living and working with Iraqi troops.

The Americans are arriving in staggered intervals over months, and troops on the ground are beginning to carry out the new strategy, the officers said. In western Baghdad, American forces are living with Iraqi soldiers at new Joint Security Stations in two neighborhoods. More stations are under construction.

From the beginning, American officers have cautioned that the new plan would take time, because any chance of success rests on building trust with a population whose faith has been severely tested by nearly a year of vicious sectarian violence. But they know that time is not on their side.

Time - something the President does not have. That, and the luxury of the surge plan being given a fair chance to succeed in reducing the violence in Baghdad.

There is no way that war critics will allow this plan even the perception of success. Any progress made will be minimized. Every car bombing, sectarian massacre, and terrorist attack will be lovingly dwelt on - proof that the plan is a “failure.”

We will have the interviews with Baghdad residents in a few months who will complain that they see no difference in their daily lives - that things are still dangerous. Every miscue by the Iraqi army will be headline news. And God help us if Americans were to kill an innocent civilian. Or at least a civilian that the AP tells us was innocent.

The sad fact is that no matter what progress is made in securing Baghdad, the only thing that can turn perception on its ear and actually start changing some minds is progress in the political arena by the Iraqis. If this surge had been accompanied by an announcement by al-Maliki of some political overtures to the Sunnis, of concessions on oil rights, amnesty for insurgents, and other necessary political steps that would start the process of giving the Sunnis a reason to stop fighting, then I think the surge would have had a vastly better chance of exceeding expectations and thus being pegged a success.

But Maliki and the Shia nationalists who hold sway over the government are not interested in sharing power and, in fact, are desirous of seeing Iraq “Sunni free.” This from StrategyPage:

The Sunni terrorist organizations are now attracting some truly fanatical recruits. It appears that a small percentage of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs are willing to fight to the death. Of the four million or so Sunni Arabs in Iraq in 2003, about half have already fled their homes, and either left the country, or moved to areas where the population is entirely Sunni. But even if only three percent of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs fight to the death, that’s over 100,000 people who would rather die than live in a democracy with the majority Shia Arabs. These diehards are getting financial and emotional support other Sunni Arabs in the region, who see an Iraq run by its Shia Arab majority, as a danger to all Sunni Moslems. That’s because of the ancient feud between Sunni and Shia (who disagree on who should be the supreme authority in the Islamic world, and on several other religious issues.)

While the United States would like to have the Iraqi government take care of these diehards, that would be a messy process. Many of the Shia and Kurd troops that predominate in the security forces are willing to kill all Sunni Arabs they encounter in a hostile area. The American troops can go in and just pop the bad guys, leaving most of the innocents unhurt. But to the majority of Iraqis, there’s no such thing as an innocent Sunni Arab, and would prefer to see them all dead, or gone to some other country.

As long as there are Shia militias, rogue Interior Ministry units, and killers-for-hire who are seeking to eliminate the Sunni presence in Iraq, the insurgents will continue to fight no matter how many of them we kill. Many of these insurgents belong to tribal based militias whose numbers are constantly being replenished. While it is true that we have made some progress with the tribes in Anbar at getting their help and cooperation, we are less successful in other Sunni provinces at bringing the tribes to our side. This is partly because al-Qaeda in Iraq has been most active among the tribes in Anbar, building resentment with their heavy handed administration and fierce religious conservatism.

For the tribes, they feel their own survival is at stake. With more than a million and a half Sunnis already having fled Iraq in the last 3 years and an estimated 350,000 displaced inside the country, the burden for proving that there is a place for the Sunnis at the table in Baghdad rests with the Shia majority. And al-Maliki - for a variety of reasons - has proved unable and unwilling to take the necessary steps to take the fire out of the hearts of both Shias and Sunnis and attempt a reconciliation that would lead to a more peaceful and just society.

I hope and believe the surge will do everything it is supposed to do - make Baghdad a safer place and give Maliki a political boost among the Iraqi people. What he does with this breathing room will determine whether or not the blood and treasure we are expending in this final effort to turn the situation around in Iraq will have been in vain.


  1. Bomb and mortar attacks in Iraq kill 31

    Violence raked Baghdad Monday as an Iraqi general took charge of the security operation in the capit

    Trackback by Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator — 2/7/2007 @ 9:31 am

  2. Strong, coherent analysis.

    Comment by Jim — 2/7/2007 @ 5:49 pm

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