Sunday, February 04, 2007

Armed groups take control of Baaquba while the government focuses on the Bush-Baghdad scheme

Diyala province is north and a little east of Baghdad, bordering Iran, and in recent months there have been reports of battles for control between Sunni and Shiite militias. Al-Hayat reports today on recent events in Diyala that indicate the security situation there has deteriorated, partly as a result of the government's concentration on the new Baghdad security plan. The story goes like this:
Security sources told Al-Hayat that the Diyala administrative council has fired its Administrator of the city of a result of armed groups having occupied the Baaquba [city hall] and sequestering him, without there having been any opposition to speak of on the part of the security and police organizations that are supposed to guard the building, not to mention [their other security responsibilities]. And the council also decided on the dismissal of 1500 members of the local police and Iraqi army for neglect of their national duty, and for providing support to the armed groups.

[The sources] said the armed groups still exert control over the city, and the forces of the army and the special forces are facing difficulty in regaining control of Baaquba and Shahraban, adding: The [Maliki] government has refused to send assistance and support because they are too busy with the new Baghdad security plan, or so we are told by our delegate to Prime Minister Maliki...
There are two points here: One is that persons in authority (the Administrator and 1500 army and police) are described as unreliable in the sense that they are standing aside in the face of armed-group control of Baaquba, and this finally became intolerable when the groups actually took over the City Hall. And the other point is that when local officials asked Maliki for assistance in the form of more-reliable security personnel, they were told the government is too busy with the new Baghdad plan.

The reporter then helps us catch up with the recent Diyala news, writing:
The vice-president of the Diyala provincial council, Hassan Bajlan, announced last week the fall of Baaquba into the hands of "armed persons and terrorist groups and Baathist remnants."

Baaquba is considered to be a magnet for extremist groups and armed militias. [The provincial council vice-president] attributed the deterioration in local security to the infiltration of more of those types of groups following the announcement of the new security plan for Baghdad. Intelligence sources told Al-Hayat that the reason for this spread of armed groups [in Baaquba and surrounding areas] is the failure of the administrastion to control the administrative boundaries, with the absence of the role of the multinational forces and the [Iraqi] army in curtailing or stopping the infiltration, in their [the armed forces'] fortified positions and strongholds.
("In their fortified positions" appears to refer to the Iraqi and/or US army staying in their bases instead of getting out and patrolling). But the main point here is that a high local official described Baaquba as having "fallen into the hands" of armed groups; the local council has decided to fire the Baaquba administrator and 1500 security personnel for being neutral and/or supportive of the armed groups; and the Maliki government's reponse to calls for help has been that they are too busy with the new Bush plan for Baghdad.

(This same Al-Hayat piece also quotes Sunni tribal leaders in the area who accuse the government of getting ready to expel groups that oppose Iran, in effect accusing the government of being a tool of Iran).

One interesting thing about the main Baaquba story is that the reporter doesn't identify the armed groups that have taken over the city. This appears to be almost a non-sectarian issue, his point being that even though Baaquba has "fallen", the local authorities haven't been able to elicit any support from the Green-one government, preoccupied as it is with the latest Bush plan.


Blogger markfromireland said...

Badger do you know what the amazing thing about this story is?

It's that your headline should read:

Armed groups take control of Baaquba Again while the government focuses on the Bush-Baghdad scheme

I'm not on my usual machine and the database is down for maintenance so I can't answer this one myself - but offhand how many reports have you read recently about Baqubah being taken over?

There've been at least three in the last two months and the situation in Diyala generally is disastrous.

Baghdad is being very successfully cut off from the rest of the country. And those fools in the green zone are too busy to notice. Just as the green zone government army commander for the governorate and the American occupation army commander for the governorate were too busy giving a press conference talking about how much the province had improved to notice that as they were giving their conference that not only was Baqubah being taken over but that the raiders blew up the said town hall using so much explosive to do it that hefty chunks of reinforced concrete landed all over the city.


7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Arabic it is called:

"Kar wa Far"

I think the closest in English to it would be "Hit and Run"?

8:11 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Interesting. "Kar wa far"

"Hit and run" isn't quite right for that expression, because it implies a one-time thing like a drive-by shooting or something. Since k-r-r has the root meaning of "coming back again and again" or "repeating", I guess if this is kar wa far, then it means taking the place for a while, then falling back and then taking it again, and repeat, which is what this is. I don't know of an expression in English for that.

11:34 AM  
Blogger badger said...

come to think of it, a lot of the areas where the Bush project blows up most spectacularly is where there isn't any handy English expression to describe what the issue is: takfiir (classifying others as unbelievers), ta'ssub (coalescing in exclusive groups with a gang-type implication), musaalaha (always translated "reconciliation", but people seem to think it has something to do with holding hands and singing Kumbaya). (For language-buffs, musaalaha is from the form VI verb s-l-h, so it is form of "what is right and proper" meaning "what is right and proper in a reciprocal sense, each with respect to the other) Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying things would be any different if Cheney spoke fluent Arabic...

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm not saying things would be any different if Cheney spoke fluent Arabic..."

lol, I think if he learnt a little bit of Arabic History with the language he would have stayed away ?

As for the term "Kar wa far", I've never looked into it's Linguistic origins, but I know that, thats what this military tactic is called in Arabic it is basic Arabic Resistance History 101 (since we are only invaded when we are weak), its actually taught in secondary school history books and it was used even before Islam against the Romans and others.

8:25 PM  
Blogger JHM said...

Speaking of "again," today's New York Times mentions in an editorial mostly about the NIE and the al-Zarka affair as a sample of how bad the mess is that

Najaf is supposed to be a showcase province for the American-trained Iraqi Army. The Pentagon chose it in December for the first symbolic handover of security responsibilities.

There has certainly been at least one "symbolic handover of security responsibilities" at Najaf previously, and perhaps more than one, because yesterday when looking for something about the mullahs rather than the occupation, I found such a transfer mentioned as an accomplished fact in an article dated 2005.

The militant GOP seems to do a good deal of "fleeing and returning" of its own.

That verbal expression seems less puzzling in English, perhaps, if you turn it around. Still, there is "He who fights and runs away / Will live to fight another day."

I can't imagine anybody human not being able to grasp the tactic itself., which must have been invented about six months after some of our ancestors took to sedentary agriculture and some others did not. Several millennia later, the bedouin commonplace was rediscovered as a great truth of [counter]insurgency by the likes of General Vo Nguyen Giap and Secretary R. S. McNamara.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, it is not just Diyala. Until the monster bombing on Saturday, al-Zarka and the Karbala’ infiltration incident were the obvious stories even in the invasion-language press. Neither event took place in Greater Baghdad or Anbar, the two zones the Bush Republicans propose to "secure." If anybody drew the inference that the Surge of '07 could match the invasionites' wildest dreams and yet things would be almost as bad as ever, I missed it.

Finally, how about THIS therapy for places like Ba‘quba?

The State Department has sent new "tiger teams" to six Iraqi ministries to help clear away the wreckage of the past and speed financing for approved projects, and it plans to double to 20 the number of U.S.-staffed provisional reconstruction teams in Baghdad and around the country. In addition to Foreign Service officers, experts including small-business advisers and CAMEL VETERINARIANS are being recruited from the U.S. Agriculture Department and elsewhere to staff the teams, the State Department's Iraq coordinator, David Satterfield, told Congress last week.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"CAMEL Veterinarians" ? Gee, I guess those who have lived and worked and depended on camels for a thousand years never figured out how to keep them properly???

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously though, I wonder how they are planning to use camels?

I am getting flashbacks to "Lawrence of Arabia."

5:51 AM  

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