Sunday, March 25, 2007


Evidence is mounting that Sunni insurgents are beginning to understand where the weak spots are in the surge strategy. Story from USA Today here.

This week they exploded a bomb at the moment PM Maliki and UN Sec.Gen. Moon were meeting. Moon (understandably) ducked, while Maliki didn't even move. As in bombs going off is normal and people are numb to it.

Also a Sunni VP's own security entourage was infiltrated and the VP (Salman al-Zubaie) was seriously wounded. He is in a US hospital under such tight security because of fears of killing that his relatives are not allowed in to visit. Even relatives are not trustworthy these days in Iraq it seems sadly.

The surge strategy is predicated on embedding US soldiers in areas outlying Baghdad where the real fighting is taking place now. The weapons manufacturing house plants are in these remote rural "suburbs" of Baghdad. Insurgents are showing this week they can attack these installations--police hq, bunkers--almost at will.
The fighting in Baghdad started about 1:30 p.m. when gunmen attacked Iraqi army positions in the Fadhil neighborhood, on the east side of the Tigris River, police said.
And this concerning a roadside bomb in Diyala that killed 4 American soldiers (my emphasis):
The military sealed off all roads leading to the area, causing traffic jams, according to witnesses and police. Stores closed their doors as the streets emptied of people fleeing the fighting. "The gunmen were shooting at every moving object. The streets were deserted and all shops closed," said Ghaith Jassim, the 37-year-old owner of a textile store in the area. "These frequent clashes have affected our work. We cannot earn our living. People and traders are afraid of coming to our area." Jassim said the arrival of U.S. troops in the area briefly stopped the clashes but the fighting resumed when the Americans left.
The COIN (counter-insurgency) strategy assumes a rural agrarian society in which all roads can be shut down in order to isolate insurgents. Iraq has rural parts no doubt, but the fighting is urban and it is not clear to me that this strategy can hold in an urban zone. Sealing off the roads kills jobs and economics as the story mentions. Which in turn feeds the insurgency.

Violence had been down somewhat since the surge. However:

The clashes broke out a day after at least 74 people were killed or found dead in Iraq — 47 in suicide bombings — one of the deadliest days since a U.S.-Iraqi security sweep began in Baghdad on Feb. 14.
The surge will continue in the next few months, so the violence levels may increase/decrease relative to all that. The real question is whether the COIN itself is under attack. The Shia are on the sidelines watching the US fight out the Sunni. They are figuring out how they will fight the Sunni as soon as the Americans begin the eventual drawdown.

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