Iraqi Army & al Qaeda Offensives

The Iraqi Army conducts an independent another independent operation in Zarqawi’s former “Islamic Republic of Qaim”; AQIZ conducts multiple suicide operations

Iraqi Army soldiers patrol the streets of Ubaydi, Iraq, March 23, 2006, in western Al Anbar Province, while Army Staff Sgt. Ken E. Miller, Military Transition Team training officer observes the unit’s movements. Click to enlarge. Photo by: Cpl. Antonio Rosas.

As the political and military ramifications from the strike on Sadr’s Mahdi Army compound in Baghdad are sorted out, Iraqi, Coalition and insurgent forces have been active in the hinterlands.

The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army has conducted another independent counterinsurgency operation in the town of Ubaydi in the Qaim region. Ubaydi was the scene of violent fighting during Operation Steel Curtain. Over seventy al Qaeda were killed in a fierce battle in the New Ubaydi district. Iraqi troops also conducted their first logistical resupply mission in the Qaim region. While I was in the Qaim region, the Iraqi Army units were solely reliant on U.S. Marines for logistical resupply. Seven month ago al Qaeda declared Qaim an “Islamic Republic,” and today the Iraqi Army is beginning to take the lead in security operations and is beginning to sustain their own operations.

The independent Iraqi Army operation in Ubaydi was the fourth such operation in western Anbar in the past three months. Closer to Baghdad, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Army Division is moving to Ramadi. The 1/1 is one of the Iraqi Army’s most seasoned units (the 1st Battalion of the 1/1 fought in Fallujah, Mosul, Tal Afar and other hot spots) and boost the Iraqi Army presence in Ramadi to near division-strength. Near Fallujah, Marines are patrolling the farmlands and conducting counterinsurgency operations.

al Qaeda has not remained silent. A suicide bomber murdered forty and wounded thirty Iraqis waiting outside a recruiting center near Tal Afar. The attack is reminiscent of the bombing of the Ramadi police recruiting center, which ultimately backfired on al Qaeda and failed to deter recruiting in the largely Sunni city. The tribes in Anbar turned on al Qaeda and created the Anbar Revenge Brigades to hunt down the terrorists.

al Qaeda also attacked another police station, but failed. A suicide bomber was killed by Iraqi police as he attempted to drive an explosive-packed bus into a police station in Haswa. “Subsequent examination of the bus revealed that the driver’s hands had been chained to the wheel,” according to the Middle East Times, and “Shortly after the blast, three mortar rounds fell on the station, but no one was hurt.” Note there was no infantry assault. al Qaeda’s front organization, the Mujahideen Shura Council, has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, and claims it was a highly successful operation.

This is the third al Qaeda attack on a police station in the past week, with the attack in Miqdadniyah being the only successful operation. al Qaeda continues to target the Iraqi Security Forces, as the establishment of a competent and popular security organization is Zarqawi’s greatest fear.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • This, from WSJ, doesn’t sound too good:
    “President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said an Iraqi-U.S. committee had been formed to investigate. “I will personally supervise, and we will learn who was responsible. Those who are behind this attack must be brought to the justice and punished,” Mr. Talabani said.
    “The Baghdad governor said he cut ties with U.S. forces and diplomats. And all 37 members of the Baghdad provincial council suspended cooperation with the U.S. in reconstruction projects planned for the remainder of the year, as well as political and security coordination, said council chairman Moeen al-Khadimi.”
    I don’t get what Talabani is talking about and the rest seems like a huge overreaction. These people should be focused on getting the government together.

  • Shawn
    “I don’t get what Talabani is talking about”
    All skilled politicians “Appoint a committee” to investigate anything controversial. It says “The problem is being looked at, and buys time for ‘cooler heads to prevail’.

  • mark t says:

    Iraq is a shame/honor culture. The West once was, too, but we’ve slowly changed to a more “guilt/lawfullness” model of social control.

    In a shame/honor culture, appearances count for everything. You have to be very careful how you treat people, including how you treat what they say. You can’t just haul off and call somebody a liar in public, merely because you *suspect* they are lying. Instead, when they feed you some cockamamie story, you say “Is that so! Why that’s *terrible!* We shall get to the bottom of this at once!” Then (if you’re wise) you let someone else disclose the facts in such a way that they are hard to deny. The liar is exposed, but you haven’t smacked him down. Just his bad luck, or the bad advice given him by some minor (disposable) player. Just an honest mistake — cold have happened to anyone. Etc.

    Over time, being caught in repeated lies can harm a person’s reputation, but failure destroys it faster than anything else. It’s the raw power behind the shame/honor facade that counts the very most. Just ask the old Scottish chieftains (Walter Scott et al notwithstanding).

    There is no sense in treading on toes, unless and until you mean to carry the conflict to the ultimate. The Kurds have no reason to pick a fight with the whole of the Shia, nor even with any very large segment of the Shia. They should go gently now (in public), just as they are doing. This makes any future revelations more palatable and therefore more credible. And therefore (to finish the thought) ultimately more damaging to the liars.

    Note, however that the primary damage will not be in “having been discovered in a lie,” but rather in “having failed.”

    To us, it seems hopelessly old-fashioned and more than a little insane. But it does have its logic. If we hope to lead them somewhere, we have to start where they are, not where we are.

  • Fish Fear Me says:

    Questions for the Big Media

    Today is March 28, 2006. Yesterday, a USMC website posted a story about the Iraq Army making progress and starting to execute one of the most critical functions of any viable army; logistics. An operation occurred on March 23rd in

  • JAF says:

    Mark, very interesting comments. I never thought of it that way.

  • The press briefing by Rumsfeld and Pace was interesting. The transcript is up at the DoD site, along with the three slides.
    I think it is possible that a militia-confrontation hasn’t yet been initiated. Rather, it might be possible that we are just looking for bad guys and in this case it happened to be militia people. This was bound to happen, if we are ID’ing the bad guys by their actions rather than particular association first.

  • hamidreza says:

    Interesting psychosocial analysis, Mark. I can attest that “saving face” is paramount in M.E. society. To convincingly and factually show someone wrong in front of a crowd or his family members, makes him the victim, and you the aggressor and the wrongdoer, irrespective of the merits of the case. If you snatch an illegally held weapon from a man, and give him a verbal berating, you are out of form, not the idiot scofflaw.
    Part of the reason is that in M.E. society, it is impossibly hard to arrive at facts – and ideology or religion serves a huge part at arriving at knowledge. All knowledge pushed as fact, is automatically suspect, no matter what the evidence – as evidence is readily doctored, hard to collect, and in short supply.
    I was once presented with an online petition against O’Reilly by a pro-Islam organization and signed by hundreds of middle easterners. The petitioners had actually slightly doctored one of O’Reilly’s remarks, and significantly altering its meaning. Few people bothered to check. And the organization probably thought it was doing a service to its “cause” by making the change.
    When it comes to ME politics, this is triply more true. That is why factual reasoning does not always work, especially when it will result in the at-fault side losing face and looking stupid.
    In fact this clashes with western cultural norms, where if somebody who is clearly at-fault does not admit to it, accept it or show remorse, or if the crowd does not admit to being at-fault, then that is taken as a sign of further offense.
    As Mark says, having been exposed as a liar, is not an existential issue for many. Lying is sort of expected, especially if tied to politics and certainly religion. Lying does not sully the honor of the perpetrator. But to be clearly shown as a failure, is surely the most damning to one’s honor.
    Some of the charges of US “arrogance” is based on such cultural differences. The Brits are much more sensitive about this, having more experience in that part of the world. It is easy to dismiss such irrational behaviour as anachronistic and cultural Edsels. But unfortunately they remain as on-the-ground realities, and can dicate the difference between a win or a loss in the high stakes game of the middle east.
    The US should have proactively prepared solid evidence in the Hayy Ur attack, and told the Shiite parties to back off. Then assuming it had the means for mass communication in Iraq, the US would have released the evidence, over some time, as propaganda to discredit these parties.
    In the western world, propaganda is viewed as offensive and summarily dismissed. In the ME world, propaganda is not only acceptable and admissible and expected, but on the contrary, hard damning evidence that clearly indicts the viewer’s side is considered bad taste and offensive!

  • Michael says:

    Hamidreza, I’m very curious, if you have time. Can you elucidate a little more the subject you addressed with Mark?
    For example how do we show Sadr is a failure? Or, how do fight the propaganda from a Muslim’s point of view? Is the individual so tied to an Imam’s viewpoint that they will not seek difference resources for clarification?
    “In the ME world, propaganda is not only acceptable and admissible and expected, but on the contrary, hard damning evidence that clearly indicts the viewer’s side is considered bad taste and offensive!”
    This truly confuses me. When I think of propaganda, I think of misleading and outright lies. Is this what you’re saying is acceptable in the M.E.? Is it acceptable due to ignorance of subject or ‘faith in religious figures’?
    So when Sadr’s group lies about men being killed in a Mosque – are we not to respond? Curious to know your recommendations on how to actually handle the situation in a newly free M.E. Media.
    Curious to know Bill. Are we building up Iraqi Military with Media training as well? If an Iraqi General would’ve immediately came on television giving facts and stated opposite claims – what would Iraqi’s think?

  • Mark S says:

    I second Michael’s question regarding the best way to “expose” Al-Sadr as a failure.
    And right now in Baghdad nobody trusts any Iraqis in uniform, unless they’re accompanied by U.S. forces. With a problem like that, people are going to rely more on militias, thereby giving Moqtad more validity.

  • Lisa says:

    You said
    “In the western world, propaganda is viewed as offensive and summarily dismissed. In the ME world, propaganda is not only acceptable and admissible and expected, but on the contrary, hard damning evidence that clearly indicts the viewer’s side is considered bad taste and offensive!”
    This is a very bewildering statement to me.
    In our counrty the word propaganda means misinformation or half-truths. Are stating here that in the Middle East people accept, admiss and expect to be mislead or told half truths rather than be shown or told the truth of the matter as the truth would offend them??

  • Matthew says:

    Hi Bill and commenters,
    Excellent post and sorry this is a little off topic, but (rehortical question alert) can anyone tell me WHY the B-2 was upgraded? (Hint: Country begins with an “I”).

  • patriot says:

    Bad new. The leftist bloggers are trying to give this story legs again. They don’t understand that it doesn’t matter even if contains facts because Democrats are the ones who goof up. We need to start pointing out Clinton messed everything up in case the troublemakers get traction this time. Hopefully we can surpress awareness again, but it’s important to remember that giving the impression that this war was competently fought takes work.

  • Michael says:

    false patriot,
    “Hopefully we can surpress awareness again…,”
    Like Daily Kos, NYT, or Guardian, CNN?
    “but it’s important to remember that giving the impression that this war was competently fought takes work.”
    War is not pretty, its messy, mistakes are made, heroes rise, cowards run, people die – that is part of the overall picture of War. In comparison to all the wars previous in number of losses, routing the regime, our soldiers and military leaders did a great job. And they’ve taken corrective measures when required.
    Unlike Germany – where our military was allowed to bomb the whole country to hell into submission – these soldiers are fighting a largely “unrewarded”(by media) attempt at humane warfare where they try to keep innocents alive. This no doubt does not escape your fine eye.
    Your post smacks of Russian Pravda-esque half-truth and lies with false projections of guilt upon those who support the war.
    If the President makes wrong decisions, or if NSA or Defense, then they deserve criticism just as much as Clinton does for allowing Bosnia to become a safe haven for terrorist IED training camps that have been used against us. You are aware that the Muslims we protected in Bosnia have been recruiting grounds against us, Europe and Iraq, right?
    And yes, I will criticize Clinton(s). As his first task sharing Commander in Chief duties with Hilary, they proudly smiled while imasculating our military. Forcing social abnormalities(2%) as their top military priority while ignoring real problems internal and around the world. Clinton was a laughing-stock to Russian men and the Middle East. The former of which I know by personal experience in Russia, the latter of which is documented over and over again by statements by the actual terrorist. They saw Clinton and America as weak.
    So, lets do include all the facts – ‘patriot’.
    I do not shrink from criticizing the President. Nor has Bill or anyone here. We all know mistakes are made during wartime. WWII is full of them, yet Roosevelt stayed in office 4 terms.
    In the larger picture, our President is loved by the troops, he’s restored respect to the military after the Clintons fiasco. Truth is the majority involved prefer him overwhelmingly to Clinton. Once again – lets do talk facts. Thanks for bringing this to mind for comparison. Bush made the larger, tough decisions that needed to be made after 9/11 unlike his predecessor in 1993 who smoked another cigar and today takes home $450,000 in Arab countries while being critical of USA. Yes, again, lets do talk facts.
    Like Pravda from Russia, half truth surrounded by deceit and contempt renders your post meaningless.
    Finally, according to your post and the point in MSNBC’s writers logic, we should be bombing Iran right now based upon intel. We should be bombing Pakistan, Syria and half a dozen places around the world. So, patriot – shall we bomb them?
    Had we blown up the places you talk about prior to invasion – you, the Dems, the Euro’s, the UN would all be waving fingers and protesting in the streets calling for impeachment proceedings along with Feingold.
    By all means, please point out more articles. You do shed so much light on the topic.


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