Miqdadiyah, a city located northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province with a population of 100,000, has quietly made the news over the past month. Iraqi troops recently arrested Ayub Ali, “who is believed to be responsible for a two-year campaign of roadside bombs, political assassination and other attacks in the areas surrounding Muqdadiyah and nearby Baqouba.” Ayub Ali is described as a “gun-for-hire type of criminal” , and it is being reported that he is coopering with the Coalition. Two insurgents were killed while planting a roadside bomb on election night. The Iraqi Army also paid a price as two of its own were killed and four wounded on the day after the constitution referendum in roadside bomb attacks. Iraqi troops handled the security arrangements for the referendum. On October 19, Coalition forces destroyed a slaughterhouse being used as a base of operations for insurgent IED attacks.
The 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division is paired up with the Iraqi 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division to patrol the region around Miqdadiyah. Knight Ridder‘s Tom Lasseter reports on the despair of a U.S. sniper team from the 3rd Infantry Division. According to Mr. Lasseter, the Iraqi troops are incompetent criminals incapable of providing for local security, and the country is headed for civil war.
The New York Time‘s Juliet Macur reports on the close relationship between the U.S. and Iraqi battalions stationed at Camp Normandy (on the sports page, no less ), and states the Iraqi unit is an effective fighting force; “the Iraqis at Normandy have become so efficient that they took the lead in military operations in their 1,200-square-mile area.” Mr. Lasseter and Ms. Macur’s reports are polar opposites on the state of the Iraqi forces and security in Miqdadiyah. Time will tell if the description of the state of affairs is closer to Mr. Lasseter or Ms. Macur’s perceptions, or if, as is likely, the truth lay somewhere in between.
The 3rd Infantry Division will soon be rotating out of Iraq, and the 101st Airborne will be assuming responsibility for the Miqdadiyah region. Miqdadiyah bears closing watching as the city sits close to the Iranian border and may be along an eastern ratline to Iran.
Britain has recently accused Iran of funneling bomb making and land mine expertise into Iraq via Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and that actual devices have been shipped into Iraq as well. The radical Shiite fighters of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Madhi Army are not the only recipients of this aide; Sunni terrorists are also benefiting from Iran’s largess.
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