Baquba Can’t be Held by Iraq Troops: Bednarak
This AP story made me angry. I admire a straight shooter, so I am glad that Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarak admitted to AP that the Iraqi Army is not up to actually holding the neighborhoods in Baquba that US troops recently cleared, in hard fighting, of Salafi Jihadi guerrillas.
So Baquba is a city of like 300,000 northeast of Baghdad, in Diyala Province. Diyala has a 60% Sunni majority, and it had a lot of Baath military bases in the old days. It is now ruled by the (Shiite) Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which benefits from the province’s proximity to Iran. The previous Iraqi military commander had to be fired because he was helping, behind the scenes, Shiite militias.
So the Sunni Arabs in Baquba are done out. They have a Shiite government in their province that they don’t want, and they have a Shiite/Kurdish government in Baghdad that sends Shiite troops of the Iraqi Army against them. The Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baquba have thrown up local militias, and they have made alliances with Baathi and Salafi Jihadi cells.
The US military spent last week trying to ‘clear’ these Sunni Arab neighborhoods of ‘al-Qaeda.’ But I doubt they have Bin Laden’s telephone number. They are just local guys or foreign volunteers who don’t like seeing Sunni Arabs subjected to Shiite ayatollahs and secessionist Kurds.
As US troops fought on Sunday, they discovered that the guerrilla leaders had set mines and then made themselves scarce.
So after 6 days of hard fighting, in which US troops were killed and wounded, what do we have?
A sullen, defiant Sunni Arab urban population.
A guerrilla leadership that slipped away.
An Iraqi army unable actually to hold the ‘cleared’ neighborhoods, which are likely to throw up more guerrilla leaders and campaigns.
A continued dominance of Sunni Arabs in Diyala by a Shiite government completely unacceptable to them.
A US commitment to upholding the Shiite (“Iraqi”) government.
So I am angry because this looks to me like we sent our guys to fight and die for a piece of political quicksand in which the entire endeavor is likely to sink.
It is not right.