Fighting in Doura district of Baghdad seems to be locus of fighting; QRFs established to address hot spots
It is quite difficult at this point in time to sort out the ‘day to day’ insurgency related violence from the violence related to the destruction of the dome of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. Reuters provides an update on the major security incidents in Iraq forthe 26th of February. While it is pure speculation, the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Basra (three of the bombers were wounded during premature detonation), a drive by shooting on youths playing soccer in Baqubah nd the fighting in Baghdad’s Doura district likely are directly related to destruction of mosque.
The fighting in Baghdad’s Doura district is the heaviest, with 15 killed and 45 wounded during mortar exchanges. Journalists/blogger Christopher Albritton, who is living in Baghdad, was extremely negative about the prospects on February 25th , (“We have reached a point where the facade of the “political process” has been shredded.”) and was predicting an all out collapse of the government and full blown civil war. According to Mr. Allbritton, the government (or “government” as the “objective” reporter Chris Allbritton refers to it) was not entering the fray on the streets of Baghdad. Today, Mr. Allbritton backtracks (“Well, maybe I spoke too soon.”) and reports the Iraqi Security Forces along with Coalition air support are engaging in Doura.
As I type, the mixed neighborhood of Doura, to the south of me, is reeling under a mortar barrage. The refinery there is on fire, it looks like. Fifteen people have been killed and 45 wounded as of last count. I have no idea how many mortars have landed, they’ve been so numerous. The sky is abuzz with Coalition choppers and Iraqi Army units have been seen crossing the Two-Story Bridge from Karradah to Doura.
Doura itself is a mixed neighborhood, with both Sunni and Shi’a residents. For months now, it’s been a very nasty place and it’s the current HQ for Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters in Baghdad. You don’t go to Doura unless you’re looking for trouble.
There is no word if the Iraqi Army mechanized division or the Interior Ministry’s mechanized brigade are engaging in Doura, but it is highly likely as this appears to be the Iraqi Quick Reaction Force. The Washington Times’ Rowan Scarborough reports the U.S. military has set up quick reaction forces and are monitoring the Iraqi Security Forces actions via Unmanned aerial Vehicles and embedded Military Training Teams, and are prepared to provide assistance if needed. The Iraqis are being given the lead in this fight.
While much of the focus is on the divisions between various Sunni and Shiite groups, Gateway Pundit rounds up the news of the unity demonstrations being held throughout Iraq, in cities such as Basra, Mosul, Hillah, Al Kut, and Karbala.
The Jordan Times looks at how the “Wolf Brigade” is transitioning to an effective elite unit that is gaining the respect of the Iraqi people in Ramadi. All hope is not lost for the Iraqi police, and it should be remembered that 2006 is considered to be “the year of the police” – where police units are to be trained up to improve their effectiveness.
Again, it appears the Iraqi government is beginning to assert itself and push security units into the fray. As Mr. Allbritton notes, Doura is no place for the meek. It should also be noted that the oversimplification of Shiite and Sunni relations is a big source of misinformation in the press. Mr. Allbritton, in his February 25th posting, questions Shiite military and police units would turn on their “brethren” in the Madhi or Badr militias. Or would Sunni police forces “confiscate the AK-47s of their mujahideen brothers off to fight the Shi’ite members of the 1st Division down the road?”
Mr. Allbritton forgets the 2004 assault on the Shrine of Imam Ali, where Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces were routed by U.S. forces accompanied by Shiite militiamen of the Thulfiqar Army and the Ansar Sistani, which Mr. Allbritton witnessed first hand (and, incidentally, he also predicted the government would collapse and Sadr was extremely popular and would be victorious). Sadr is very unpopular in many Shiite circles, just as the “mujahideen” are very unpopular in many Sunni circles. That’s why there has been so much Red-on-Red fighting between insurgents, tribes and al Qaeda. The sectarian devides exist, and have existed for hundreds of years, and should not be oversimplified or confused with a civil war.
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