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Archive for the ‘Mosul’ Category

The New York Times has a well-reported piece on the troubles in Mosul, clearly spelling out what most of us (alas, not the Reuters guys in Baghdad) have known all along:

Maj. Adam Boyd, the intelligence officer for the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, described the Sunni insurgency here as a dozen groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq, a radical Islamic group that insurgents have put forward as an umbrella group for jihadist fighters in northern Iraq, and Sunni nationalist organizations like the 1920 Revolution Brigades and a Baath Party revival group called Al Awda.

Mosul, and the area around it, is also believed to be a hide-out for some top fugitive Baath Party officials, including Izat Ibrahim al-Duri, one of the kings in the original most-wanted deck of playing cards distributed to American troops.

Other Sunni insurgent groups active in the city are the Army of Islam, the Army of Muhammad and Ansar al-Islam, the group formerly based in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The story gives way too much credit to the Iraqi Army, but I guess that’s unavoidable now that even platoon leaders in the 3ACR are taught to praise the IA’s performance to visiting reporters.

Also today:

The NEFA Foundation has translated a new video and a text communiqué from the Islamic State of Iraq, claiming that AQI is far from defeated in Nineveh. More here.

UPDATE: Dr. iRack weighs in. He’s a wise man, but in this I mostly disagree. I’ve followed the violence in Mosul for months on an almost body-by-body basis, and honestly — nothing has changed. Deals may have been struck, and the days of spectacular truck bombings may be over for now, but the underlying problems remain unsolved.

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After the widely advertised government “crackdown” in Mosul, things are returning to normal. The lesson, in caps: YOU DO NOT ELIMINATE AN INSURGENCY BY MASS DETENTIONS.

(Note to the Baghdad press corps: Please pull your head out of your butt and go report. No more blindly parroting the Maliki “al-Qaeda is on the run” meme, okay?)

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Insurgents who vanished from Mosul before the recent government operations have regrouped elsewhere in Nineveh, terrorising the Yazidi communities west of the city, Azzaman reports.

‘The residential settlements and villages of the district of Sinjar are lost to gunmen. They have burned official records and caused a lot of damage and many casualties,’ one source told the newspaper.

Another said the gunmen were moving freely in pick-up cars in the mainly Arab inhabited district of Qahtaniya and the predominantly Yazidi town of Sinjar.

You might recall that 796 people were killed in the war’s deadliest car bomb attack in two Yazidi towns on August 14, 2007.

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Déjà vu Mosul

Increasing insurgent violence? “Final showdowns” that fizzle out? Think you’ve heard it all before? That’s because, well, you have.

“Insurgent violence mounting in the north” — The San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2004

“In Mosul, a Battle ‘Beyond Ruthless” — The Washington Post, April 13, 2005

“Mosul slips out of control as the bombers move in” — The Independent, March 31, 2006

“Pushed Out of Baghdad, Insurgents Move North” — The New York Times, December 6, 2007

Of course, you can just as easily find the annual “things are looking up” stories that inevitably follow the doom and gloom.

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So far, it seems only Juan Cole and this blog have been openly sceptical about the Iraqi government operations in Mosul. But now we have a piece by Fadhil Ali at Jamestown basically saying the same thing:

In fact, the major leaders of the insurgent groups appear to have left Mosul two months before the operation […]. The repeated early announcements of the operations offered a chance for the insurgents to take precautions and move out of the region. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is known for avoiding major combat confrontations—its tactics rely mainly on fighting with small groups only. It is clear that the Iraqi government could not achieve a decisive victory with two quick military operations against al-Qaeda in Ninawa province.

I don’t want to say I told you so. But I told you so.

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Since the wire services and big-league correspondents have decided not to go to Mosul and instead report bullshit sitting in Baghdad, I’ve had to turn elsewhere for news. Thankfully there is Juan Cole.

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Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is personally supervising the war effort in Mosul, today offered amnesty and cash to insurgents willing to put down their RPGs and repent.

Now, that’s taking ‘COIN’ a little too literally…

Seriously, I suspect the reason for the generosity is that nothing much has come out of the two military operations (called Lion’s Roar and Mother of Two Springs, believe it or not) the government has launched in the past few days.

According to reports (via Informed Comment), they have so far managed to arrest some 900 people and piss off local Sunni bigwigs who say the operations have targeted ex-Baathists and military officers instead of “al-Qaeda”.

I know getting to Mosul can be a bitch (I’ve been stuck in Speicher, too), but can somebody please hitch a ride up there and do some good old-fashioned reporting, so we don’t have to rely on this bullshit.

In case you’re interested, my take on Mosul is here.

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