Guerrillas differ from conventional armies in that they typically avoid direct, conventional engagements on the battlefield. They melt away before a conventional army’s advance, and then reemerge to engage in sniping, sneak attacks, and bombings from an unexpected quarter. The advantage of Fred Kagan’s troop escalation or “surge” is that it allowed a tamping down of violence in Baghdad through a US campaign to disarm the Sunni Arabs there. There were two disadvantages of it. First, it allowed the Shiite militias to take advantage of the disarming of many Sunni Arabs, and to ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from the capital during the past six months. As a result, Baghdad is virtually a Shiite city now, like Isfahan or Shiraz. Second, the Sunni guerrillas melted away in West Baghdad, either laying low or relocating to other provinces, so that the violence was displaced to the provinces. Very likely when the extra US troops are removed, the guerrillas will reemerge in the capital, though their loss of so many Sunni neighborhoods to the ethnic cleansing may put them at a disadvantage now.
The Sunni Arab guerrilla movement has clearly regrouped outside Baghdad and is deploying high explosives with deveastating effect in Diyala, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Kirkuk provinces, to the northeast and due north of Baghdad. Cells also remain active in the northern reaches of Babil province just south of Baghdad, where Saddam had planted Sunni families in what had been a Shiite area, sowing the seeds of conflict when the Shiites returned to reclaim their property from 2003.
There were two big bombings in Diyala on Friday and a major attack in Mosul, a city nearly the size of Houston several hundred miles north of the capital On Saturday, the guerrillas deployed two big car bombs in Bayji, an oil refining center just northwest of Saddam’s home town of Tikrit north of Baghdad. One car exploded with massive force outside the house of Ali al-Juburi, the counter-terrorism chief in the local police force, killing 11 individuals (7 of them policemen) and wounding 44 other persons. Another bomb targeting a police station killed 6 and wounded 15, and damaged surrounding buildings.
South of Baghdad in Babil Province, the US military forestalled a planned attack on American soldiers by a guerrilla cell at Yusufiya. They engaged well-armed cell members and the fighting grew so deadly that the US troops had to call in air strikes on their foe. They killed 10 guerrillas from the air and found a weapons cache. A mortar attack in nearby Mahmudiya killed one child and wounded two others. In addition, in Baghdad itself guerrillas used a roadside bomb to wound two police commandoes (these are usually recruited from the Shiite Badr Corps, the Iran-trained paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (ISCI).
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Adnan Dulaimi, the head of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, has been released from any confinement and is back in his house. But he expressed doubt that his bloc will rejoin the Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki. He said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had sent over some Peshmerga (Kurdish) bodyguards to protect Dulaimi. A car bomb was found near his house Thursday a week ago and one of his personal bodyguards had the key. Dulaimi claims that he the target of a Salafi Jihadi assassination plot, with the extremists having infiltrated his staff. (Whether that is true or not, it has happened to other Sunni politicians cooperating with the new government). Al-Hayat says that its sources in ISCI maintain that they are still negotiating with the Iraqi Islamic Party, a constituent of the Iraqi Accord Front, in hopes it will rejoin the al-Maliki government.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Mosul city council has decided to dig a ditch around the northern city of 1.5 million to keep radical Sunni extremists out. The council has seen an uptick of relocation of militants to the city from Baghdad. Cities haven’t had moats since the medieval period. Such modern advancement, the Bush administration has brought to Iraq.
Leila Fadel’s blog from Baghdad is revealing on the fears of a teenager that his mother may end up killed for working for a Western news service. He wishes he had more typical teenage problems, but his are that he cannot bring home friends since they would find out about his mother’s employment.