Ups and downs in Baghdad

Strategy Page:


After three weeks of "the surge", arrests are way up, and the murder rate in Baghdad is down by more than half. One of the bomb factories captured appeared to be the one that was including chlorine gas tanks in their truck bombs. About 900 terrorists have been killed or captured so far. Many others were able to drop their weapons and get away into the civilian population. But some of these guys are getting fed up, and heading back to a Sunni village in western Iraq, or trying to get out of the country. Life is becoming harder and harder for Sunni Arabs.

One downside of the security operation is that the Shia terrorist groups often provided protection from car bombs. That's because the Shia terrorists, like many factions of the Mahdi Army, had their black uniformed members manning checkpoints around Shia neighborhoods. The Mahdi guys checked every vehicle, while the police, who have replaced the Mahdi men (who are in hiding until the surge operations are over) do not. The cops know that, if they find a car that has a bomb, the bomber may be able to detonate it before the cops can kill him. The Mahdi guards were protecting their own neighborhoods, the police usually are not. Thus Sunni car bombs are getting through to Shia targets that have been unreachable for the last few years.

There is more. I think they need to exclude vehicle traffic in the the market areas during hours of operation. Since most of the army is Shia, I am not sure I buy the story about them not being as careful as Mahdi men in checking vehicles. But, clearly they need to do better. I think one of the cumulative effects of the surge will be to take down the places where the weapons are manufactured. There has already been an up tick in the finding of production facilities. Many of these are a result of increased tips from Iraqis who are disgusted with the killing.


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