Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Security In Iraq, 4th Qtr 2015


This is the second article in a series reviewing security in Iraq. These are based upon the most complete numbers collected by Musings On Iraq so far. The basis for these figures are 41 newspapers, which are read each day. These are a collection of Iraq, western, and Arab media outlets. In addition, Airwars, which documents U.S.-led Coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria, Iraq Body Count, and the United Nations are also consulted. This article covers the fourth quarter of 2015 when there was the last great surge of violence in Iraq.

From October to December 2015 there was a large increase in reported security incidents in Iraq. In October there were 598 incidents, 539 in November, before jumping to 659 in December. That would average out to 19.2 per day, 17.9 and 21.2 for those three months. This surge in violence was due to two factors. First, the Islamic State launched a huge terrorist campaign in Baghdad in the winter. Second, the Kurds launched an operation to free Sinjar in western Ninewa setting off heavy fighting there.

As incidents went up so did casualties. In October there were 1,190 deaths, going up to 1,521 by December. The number wounded actually went down from 1,567 in October to 1,430. In total, there were 1,796 incidents reported leading to 3,927 fatalities, and 4,470 injured for the last quarter of the year. The close alignment between dead and wounded was another sign that Iraqi authorities were not divulging their losses. The number of injured is regularly 2-4 times higher than deaths, but in most major clashes casualties are rarely mentioned, and figures have never been released for any of the large campaigns to free territory since the war started in June 2014.

Violence In Iraq 4th Qtr 2015

Incidents
Killed
Wounded
Oct
598
1,190
1,567
Nov
539
1,216
1,473
Dec
659
1,521
1,430
Totals
1,796
3,927
4,470

During the last quarter of 2015 Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Ninewa saw rising violence, while in Anbar the number of attacks was flat, and going down in Salahaddin. As the Islamic State was losing more territory in the country it came to focus upon the capital. There, incidents went from 8.4 in October to 10.8 by December. Similarly, IS began picking up its operations in Diyala at the same time. In November there was a low of just 0.7 incidents per day, which then rose to 1.9 by January 2016. Kirkuk had more fluctuations, but the trend was still upward starting in November when there were 0.5 incidents per day going up to 2.0 by February. Ninewa is different from Iraq’s other provinces because incidents there are just as likely IS executions as clashes with the Iraqi forces. In November however, the Peshmerga started an operation to free Sinjar, which set off a large number of counterattacks leading security figures to rise sharply from 1.6 in October to 3.9 by December. Anbar was one exception to this trend with incidents being flat during the quarter with 2.9 in October, 2.8 in November, and 2.8 in December before going upwards with the liberations of Ramadi and Fallujah leading an uptick in 2016. In Salahaddin things were heading downwards after Baiji was freed in September with incidents going from 3.1 in October to 1.5 by December. This was the Islamic State’s last big surge in attacks as in 2016 overall incidents would steadily decline even with its spring offensive.

Anbar
Oct
Nov
Dec
92 Incidents
187 Killed
105 Wounded
31 Shootings
6 IEDs
3 Suicide Car Bobs
3 Car Bombs
7 Mortars
1 Artillery
1 Rockets
38 Suicide Bombers Killed
29 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
65 Car Bombs Destroyed
86 Incidents
80 Killed
113 Wounded
28 Shootings
6 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
8 Mortars
35 Suicide Bombers Killed
2 Suicide Motorcycle Bombs Killed
66 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
32 Car Bombs Destroyed
89 Incidents
306 Killed
178 Wounded
23 Shootings
2 IEDs
6 Suicide Bombers
12 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Rockets
4 Mortars
29 Suicide Bombers Killed
64 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
24 Car Bombs Destroyed

Babil
Oct
Nov
Dec
7 Incidents
2 Killed
2 Wounded
1 Shooting
2 IEDs
1 Grenade
1 Car Bomb Destroyed
6 Incidents
4 Killed
4 Wounded
3 Shootings
1 IED
1 Sticky Bomb
5 Incidents
4 Killed
3 Wounded
2 Shootings
2 IEDs

Baghdad
Oct
Nov
Dec
262 Incidents
373 Killed
1,040 Wounded
55 Shootings
144 IEDs
22 Sticky Bombs
2 Suicide Bombers
4 Suicide Car Bombs
6 Car Bombs
3 Grenades
2 Rockets
1 Mortar
2 Suicide Bombers Killed
1 Car Bomb Dismantled
261 Incidents
374 Killed
968 Wounded
61 Shootings
132 IEDs
27 Sticky Bombs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
8 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb
2 Mortars
1 Grenade
4 Suicide Bombers killed
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
2 Car Bombs Dismantled
335 Incidents
368 Killed
976 Wounded
84 Shootings
173 IEDs
30 Sticky Bombs
1 Bicycle Bomb
1 Motorcycle Bomb
1 Suicide Bomber
4 Mortars
2 Grenades
4 Suicide Bombers Killed
1 Car Bomb Dismantled

Basra
Oct
Nov
Dec
5 Incidents
11 Killed
30 Wounded
1 Shooting
1 IED
1 Sound Bomb
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Car Bomb
3 Incidents
2 Killed
2 Shootings
1 Sound Bomb
5 Incidents
1 Killed
2 Wounded
3 Shootings
2 IEDs

Diyala
Oct
Nov
Dec
43 Incidents
105 Killed
166 Wounded
10 Shootings
10 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Car Bomb
13 Mortars
2 Car Bombs Destroyed
22 Incidents
18 Killed
35 Wounded
8 Shootings
4 IEDs
2 Sticky Bombs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
1 Mortar
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
28 Incidents
22 Killed
32 Wounded
8 Shootings
10 IEDs
2 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
4 Mortars




Irbil
Oct
Nov
Dec
-
1 Incident
1 Shooting
-

Karbala
Oct
Nov
Dec
-
-
1 Incident
1 Shooting
5 Suicide Bombers Killed

Kirkuk
Oct
Nov
Dec
35 Incidents
62 Killed
18 Wounded
13 Shootings
7 IEDs
2 Rockets
1 Mine
16 Incidents
26 Killed
25 Wounded
8 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
4 Suicide Bombers
1 Car Bomb
25 Incidents
42 Killed
15 Wounded
13 Shootings
1 Mortar

KRG
Oct
Nov
Dec
2 Incidents
35 Killed
2 Turkish Air Strikes
-
-

Maysan
Oct
Nov
Dec
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Shooting
-
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Shooting

Najaf
Oct
Nov
Dec
-
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Shooting
-

Ninewa
Oct
Nov
Dec
52 Incidents
279 Killed
34 Wounded
16 Shootings
11 IEDs
1 Grenade
4 Rockets
2 Mortars
80 incidents
636 Killed
184 Wounded
39 Shootings
8 IEDs
8 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
2 Car Bombs
4 Mortars
3 Rockets
29 Suicide Bombers Killed
18 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
121 Incidents
737 Killed
183 Wounded
50 Shootings
33 IEDs
6 Suicide Bombers
2 Suicide Car Bombs
10 Car Bombs
7 Mortars
4 Rockets
22 Suicide Bombers Killed
12 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
3 Car Bombs Destroyed

Qadisiyah
Oct
Nov
Dec
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Sticky Bomb
-
1 Incident
1 Sound Bomb

Salahaddin
Oct
Nov
Dec
97 Incidents
133 Killed
172 Wounded
39 Shootings
20 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
2 Suicide Bombers
7 Suicide Car Bombs
5 Mortars
1 Rockets
1 Boat Bomb Destroyed
8 Suicide Bombers Killed
3 Suicide Motorcycle Bombs Destroyed
16 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
39 Car Bombs Destroyed
62 Incidents
75 Killed
143 Wounded
41 Shootings
52 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
2 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Mortar
29 Suicide Bombers killed
6 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
29 Car Bombs Destroyed
48 Incidents
40 Killed
41 Wounded
24 Shootings
5 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Rockets
3 Mortars
10 Suicide Bombers Killed
5 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
9 Car Bombs Destroyed

Sulaymaniya
Oct
Nov
Dec
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Shooting
1 Incident
1 Wounded
1 Sticky Bomb
-


Monday, August 29, 2016

Iraq Fires Its Defense Minister


In August 2016 Iraq’s Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi was dismissed by parliament. Nouri al-Maliki’s faction of State of Law had been trying to get rid of him for almost a year to undermine Prime Minister Haidar Abadi, but never had the votes to do it. That changed when at the start of the month Obeidi attacked the Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri and several other parliamentarians over corrupt defense deals. Obeidi’s move backfired and created enough opposition to ensure his removal.

The Defense Minister’s problems started when he was called before parliament on August 1, 2016. Obeidi was to answer questions about corrupt deals at his ministry, but instead went on the attack and accused Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, Mohammed Karbuli, the head of the Solution bloc, and others of being involved in crooked deals for military equipment. To back up his accusations Obeidi went to the anti-corruption Integrity Commission on August 4. He was then hit with a lawsuit by Jabouri for slandering his name. In near record time, the Federal Court acquitted Jabouri of any charges on August 9, claiming there was a lack of evidence against him. There was more bad news for Obeidi when on August 24 the Supreme Judicial Council said that it closed the investigation of corruption charges made by the Defense Minister. Obeidi’s accusations made headlines throughout the Iraqi and international press. Many Iraqis’ praised his stance claiming that he was a hero against the corrupt ruling class even though he had been brought in before the legislature to answer questions about illegality going on under him. It didn’t appear he had much to back up his claims though as two courts found he didn’t have any hard facts. His attacks also turned Speaker Jabouri and his Iraqi Islamic Party against the Defense Minister, which would come back on Obeidi.

Events moved quickly and on August 25 parliament held a no confidence vote removing Obeidi from his post. 142 MPs were for removing Obeidi versus 102 against, with the rest abstaining. The move against the Defense Minister was led by Nouri al-Maliki and the anti-Abadi Reform bloc that he is part of. That grouping also includes Iyad Allawi’s Nationalist Coalition, and some Kurdish MPs. Maliki’s faction had been trying to oust Obeidi since 2015 to weaken the prime minister, but was unable to gather enough backing. The Defense Minister accusing Jabouri and Karbuli meant that the Islamic Party and Solution Bloc provided the numbers necessary to remove Obeidi. On the other hand, Osama Nujafi’s Mutahidun, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Ahrar, and Ammar Hakim’s Muwatin were all for retaining the minister. Nujafi and Jabouri have become bitter rivals with the former trying to remove the speaker from office. Sadr and Hakim didn’t want to back any move made by Maliki that might aid his plans to return to power. Those two walked out of parliament on August 23 to block the first attempt to hold the no confidence vote against Obeidi. If the Defense Minister had not gone after Speaker Jabouri he would probably still have his job. Most ministers when appearing before parliament either don’t show up or don’t give any substantive responses, especially when they get accused of corruption. Instead, Obeidi chose to go on the offensive against some of his critics. That backfired. First, Jabouri and company could have very well been involved in all the corrupt deals Obeidi accused them of, but the minister couldn’t get any traction against them in the courts. Second, Maliki had been trying to get rid of Obeidi for almost a year, but got nowhere. Now that the minister had angered the speaker though, he threw his weight behind the no confidence vote and Obeidi was out.

SOURCES

Adnan, Sinan, “Iraq’s Prime Minister comes under Attack by Political Rivals,” Institute for the Study of War, 4/28/15

Agence France Presse, “Iraq judiciary drops corruption case against speaker,” 8/9/16
- “Iraq minister accuses parliament speaker of corruption,” 8/1/16
- “Iraq prosecutor files complaint against graft accused,” 8/3/16

Buratha News, “Judiciary challenged the defense minister and the head of the Integrity Commission on the issue of Jabouri,” 8/24/16

Iraq News Network, “Obeidi: Salim al-Jabouri demanded role in arms deals and Haider Mulla asked me for two million dollars,” 8/1/16

Al Mada, “Deal within the Coalition Forces to speed up dropping charges against al-Jabouri and lifting his immunity,” 8/9/16
- “Jabouri included withdrawal of confidence from al-Obeidi to next
Tuesday’s agenda,” 8/15/16
- “Obeidi turned the table on his interrogation and made embarrassing accusations against the Speaker of Parliament,” 8/3/16
- “Obeidi’s fate hung in parliament session..Jubouri faces a campaign for his dismissal with 100 signatures,” 8/8/16
- “Parliament postpones vote on the withdrawal of confidence from al-Obeidi to Thursday,” 8/23/16

Mamouri, Ali, “Iraq’s political leaders on quicksand as alliances fracture,” Al Monitor, 8/12/16

Martin, Patrick, “Iraq’s Parliament Ousts Defense Minister,” Institute for the Study of War, 8/25/16

Morris, Loveday, “Iraqi parliament ousts defense minister as Mosul operation looms,” Washington Post, 8/25/16

New Sabah, “Abadi: I was against the interrogation of al-Obeidi at the current time because of the security situation,” 8/5/16
- “Mutahidun declares that it will appeal the dismissal of Defense Minister,” 8/26/16

NINA, “Al-Fatlawi clarified her position on the accusations of the Defense Minister in the parliament session today,” 8/1/16

Rudaw, “Iraqi defense minister accuses parliament speaker of corruption,” 8/1/16

Sotaliraq, “Alloizi: the dismissal of al-Obeidi a kind of regulatory recovery of Parliament,” 8/25/16
- “Corruption charges triggered by Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi in the House of Representatives,” 8/1/16

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Musings On Iraq In The News


Was cited in “Contesting Facts On The Ground In Iraq” by Michael Knights for War On The Rocks.

Friday, August 26, 2016

1st Crack In Sec of State Powell’s 2003 UN Presentation On Iraq


(National Security Archive)
On February 5, 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell made his famous presentation to the United Nations Security Council laying out the U.S. case against Iraq. Powell had been the main advocate within the Bush administration to go to the international body to build up support for the United States’ Iraq strategy.

One section of Powell’s speech focused upon Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his cooperation with the Kurdish Salafi group Ansar al-Islam. Powell claimed that Zarqawi was working with Ansar at a camp in Iraq’s Kurdistan to develop poison. Powell showed a satellite picture of the base in Khurmal. The problem was that Ansar didn’t run that camp. It was under a group called Komaleh Islami, which had ties with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). While it would take months to discredit Powell’s presentation after the invasion of Iraq, this part of his claims was questioned the day he appeared at the U.N. It foreshadowed the faulty intelligence that so much of the American case against Saddam was based upon.

SOURCES

Chivers, C.J. “Kurds Puzzled by Report of Terror Camp,” New York Times, 2/6/03

International Crisis Group, “Radical Islam In Iraqi Kurdistan: The Mouse That Roared,” 2/7/03

McGeary, Johanna, “Dissecting The Case,” Time, 2/10/03

Powell, Colin, “A Policy of Evasion and Deception,” United Nations, 2/5/03

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Will Iraq’s Mosul Go Down Like Fallujah?


For the first two years of the war against the Islamic State the script for liberating Iraq’s major cities seemed set until Fallujah was freed. Tikrit and Ramadi took months to re-take and were marked by fits and spurts by the security forces. The defense in depth that the insurgents built meant slow going for the Iraqi forces, while IS units re-infiltrated into the rear for harassing attacks. That all changed with Fallujah however that fell in just weeks. The real problem turned out to be a humanitarian one. Could the battle for Mosul go down the same way?

Tikrit and Ramadi seemed to set a pattern for how the Islamic State would defend major urban areas. IS laid down multiple IED fields with covering fire from snipers on the perimeter. IS would also re-infiltrate into the towns surrounding the cities delaying the final assault. On the inside of the cities there were booby-trapped houses and tunnel systems so that IS fighters could maneuver without being exposed to Coalition airstrikes or Iraqi artillery and mortar fire. It also allowed the militants to come up behind the Iraqi forces in surprise attacks. Finally, multiple suicide bombers and car bombs would be launched to break up Iraqi units. The Islamic State didn’t have the numbers to hold these areas, but they were able to drag out the fighting for months and cause thousands of casualties. Ramadi for example, took four months to be freed. Half of that was spent just getting into the city and then the other half to clear it. What allowed the Islamic State to build up such defense in depth was the fact that Tikrit and Ramadi had basically been emptied of their populace in the run up to the operations. With no civilians, IS was free to plant bombs and maneuver anywhere it wanted. That was not true of Fallujah.

The battle of Fallujah went down surprisingly quickly given the previous battles. The city was liberated in just five weeks. At first, it seemed like the Iraqi forces were going to have the same hard time as they did in Tikrit and Ramadi with all the IEDs and snipers, but when they were able to penetrate into the interior of the city the insurgents’ defenses quickly fell. The difference was that Fallujah was a major command center for the Islamic State. It not only maintained facilities there, but housed its families and thousands of other civilians. Because of that IS was only able to set up perimeter defenses, and little on the inside. Instead, what turned out to be the major problem in Fallujah was the humanitarian crisis that developed as approximately 80,000 families fled the militants. The government and humanitarian organizations were not prepared for such an exodus lacking facilities, supplies and money. After the battle was over their plight did not improve much either due to those same issues.

Mosul could go down in much the same fashion as Fallujah. Like the latter, IS uses Mosul as one of its two main hubs in Iraq and Syria. There are still over a million people living in the city as well. Unless they move their operations out and depopulate it, the insurgents will not be able to create the intricate defenses that they did in Tikrit and Ramadi. Instead, there will be a tough exterior and weak inside again like Fallujah. Just like that city, the real dilemma will be dealing with all the people that flee, because the government and NGOs are still not prepared for the mass displacement due to their lack of money. The political disputes between all the factions that want to be involved in the operation that are emerging now, will also play a role afterward.

The battle for Mosul is still months away. At the earliest the city could be attacked by the end of the year, but early 2017 is more likely. Liberating it could take less time than it took to get there. The Islamic State made a huge overreach when it seized Mosul in the first place in the summer of 2014. Once the Iraqi government regrouped and the U.S. led Coalition entered the fray IS was going to lose all the territory it seized in Iraq. The group is aware of that inevitability making announcements that it might lose its state, but that it will endure. The real dilemma now is what will happen in the aftermath. Over one million people are likely to be displaced during the battle and Baghdad lacks the resources to take care of them. Just as important the government doesn't have the money to rebuild Mosul either. Finally, there will be political disputes over the administration of Mosul and Ninewa in general, and likely revenge attacks as well. Those issues will all likely be exploited by IS as it tries to regroup after its losses and re-infiltrate back into the city that has been its main base in Iraq for years. Those are the factors that will have a lasting impact past the freeing of the city itself.