The war rages in Iraq. On the military front, Coalition troops continue the hunt for al Qaeda and local terrorists and insurgents. A combined US and Iraqi task force conducted a complex raid north of Baqubah to arrest a suspected leader of the insurgency:
About 1,000 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment and 500 members of the 32nd Iraqi Army Brigade participated in the attack. The U.S. Air Force also provided close air support, which included AC-130 gunships and F-16 fighter aircrafts, Warren said. No casualties were reported, he said. “There were so many moving parts,” he said. “It came together almost perfectly.”
Fifty suspected insurgents were captured and detained as a result of the operation, he said. However, the brigade did not capture the high-ranking insurgent. His name was not given because of security concerns, Warren said.
Iraqi troops have taken over another dangerous neighborhood of Baghdad; “Today, I officially take over the area,” said Col. Ali al-Obeidi of the Iraqi Army’s 6th Division. “It is time … for Dora to be settled just like Haifa Street.” Haifa Street, once one of the most dangerous sections of Baghdad, if not Iraq, was taken over by Iraqi troops in March.
Another member of the insurgency, Fadhil Ibrahim Mahmud Al-Mashadani, was captured by the Iraqi military. Al-Mashadani is “personally responsible for coordinating and funding attacks against the Iraqi people” , and was one of “the main facilitators” of the insurgency. He also was a member of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government and was the leader of the Baghdad military division.
On the political front, the transitional government continues to negotiate the formation of the cabinet, and it is believed the cabinet positions will be selected this weekend. Sunni insurgents continue to try to find ways to lay down their arms and enter the political process:
“Groups that participated in the insurgency are now coming forward and saying they want to participate in the politics,” Steven Casteel, the senior U.S. consultant to Iraq’s Interior Ministry, said Wednesday. “Normally, it’s a cell leader coming forward through an intermediary.”
Coalition forces are taking care to demand results and not blindly grant amnesty. As Colonel Gurganus reports about a cell leader who is looking to turn himself in; “He’s got to bring more to the table than his skin. He will have to show us he’s going to dismantle his piece of the pie.”
Sheikh Hareth al-Dhari, the president of the insurgency friendly Muslim Scholars Association has issued a fatwa condemning all forms of terrorism in Iraq, driving yet another wedge between the local insurgents and al Qaeda (to be fair, he considers the US occupation as terrorism, however he also includes the actions of the insurgents as well. Hat tip to Chrenkoff):
“the terrorism of the forces that claim resistance, and the honorable resistance renounces them We peacefully reject the occupation and object to terrorism in all forms, whether by an enemy of a friend, especially when this terrorism is aiming at the innocent, institutions, security and cultural establishments and the leaders of thought.”
Al Qaeda continues the senseless fight, however, and is consolidating its ties with radical Islamists forces in Iraq. The Al-Rijjal Brigade has pledged fealty to al Qaeda in Iraq. Ansar al-Sunnah cooperated with al Qaeda in a recent attack in Kirkuk, which killed 12 police officers and several bystanders.
As the local elements of the insurgency continues to sue for peace with the Iraqi government, al Qaeda will reach out to more of the radical Islamists groups operating in Iraq, as they will need to increase their network to offset the losses of local insurgency. Al Qaeda will not likely conduct many more mass assaults such as the ones on Abu Ghraib and Camp Gannon, unless, as a recent commenter noted, Zarqawi is receiving false reports from his lieutenants who are “making inflated claims to avoid losing face is a behavior” . If this is the case, Zarqawi has a serious problem within his command, and he is sacrificing his resources based on falsified information.
As al Qaeda’s ability to influence the course of events in Iraq, their options diminish. Head on assaults on American forces have proven pointless. Indirect attacks on convoys have not dislodged America from Iraq. Attacks on Iraqi Security Forces have not broken them, and has only strengthened their resolve; the Iraqi army and police forces are growing in both numbers and effectiveness. Attempts to create a civil war between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds have also failed. The only options remaining are to withdraw from Iraq and admit defeat (unlikely) or escalate the violence against “soft” targets – the Iraqi people themselves – as the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria did in their brutal and failed insurgency. As we have already seen, the Iraqi people will not be cowed by the violence.
Jeff Norris of GeoPolitical Review investigates the possibility of the UN falsifying intelligence data to justify a larger role in the Congo.
Instapundit looks at the historical revisionism of the “democracy was never part of the Iraq war” crowd and rounds up links to smash the myth.
Arthur Chrenkoff shares his thoughts about the global redeployment of American forces on the heels of the reallocation from Germany.
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