Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Strategic progress"

"The White House is trying to break through its isolation and stanch the flow of Republican defections by insisting on strategic success in Iraq currently, in order to lay the groundwork for 'reducing the number of forces and limiting their role' in the coming year, as Congress takes up a new bill [including a provision] for withdrawal within the coming four months". That's how Al-Hayat summarizes the state of play in Washington this morning, referring to yesterday's WaPo article about a briefing for Republicans by Stephen Hadley and the war-czar Lute.

With that as background, the Al-Hayat reporter relates the peculiar story of Amariya district (west Bagdad):
On another topic, the military leader of the Islamic Army [of Iraq, IAI; the person is referred to only by a nom de guerre] denied repeated reports that his group had received American support in fighting AlQaeda in Amariya, and a leader of the Islamic Party [Tareq al-Hashemi's party] said a split has occurred within the armed faction. The leader of the IAI told Al-Hayat: "What has been spread around respecting receipt by our fighters of military or logistical support from the Americans is completely devoid of truth." And he added: "The military parade by some of our fighters in Amariya was for the purpose of showing the scope of our presence in that town, which has been honorable in its resistance to the occupation".
The reporter then reminds readers that in the statement of Omar al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State of Iraq (AlQaeda) a few days ago, the ISI leader said his group was in control of Amariya, and the reporter says this appeared to be a challenge to the IAI which had been fighting AlQaeda in that area for the past few weeks. And then there is this clause which isn't further explained: "[IAI had been fighting AlQaeda for the past weeks] before it [IAI] signed an agreement for a cease-fire with the Islamic State of Iraq." Next we read this:
But Omar al-Wajiha, leader of the Islamic Party, which is headed by the vice-president of the republic Tareq al-Hashemi, denied that the IAI was in control of Amariya after expelling AlQaeda fighters from there, and [al-Wajiha] added that the leadership of the IAI has denied any relationship with what was done in Amariya by this faction, indicating [al-Wajiha told the reporter] the existence of splits within this organization. Wajiha explained that the events in question represent the local people standing up to the unjustified actions of AlQaeda in the area, killing and expelling families [even though] all of them are Sunni.
Wajiha explained to the reporter that the alliance of "some of the resistance factions" with the American forces as a tactical move in their struggle on the ground with AlQaeda. The Americans have issued an announcement about the opening of a "General combat center" in the region "help the Sunni residents free their neighborhood of the rebels".

The picture seems to be this: US forces are helping factions or sub-groups of the IAI in local struggles with AlQaeda, while naturally the IAI leadership (with a leader of Hashemi's Islamic Party also speaking up for them) deny that the group as such is enjoying any military or logistical support from the Americans. This would fit thematically with the current Bush-administration priority of coming up with some kind of evidence of strategic progress (to kick the withdrawal-issue can down the road for another year). There have been widely-reported cases of US alliance with certain tribal groups against AlQaeda; this indicates that there is probably a similar process going on with whatever subgroups of the resistance they can entice in this way.

But what I don't understand is the reference above to the signing of a cease-fire agreement between the IAI and the Islamic State of Iraq. Something is escaping me there.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

US alliance with certain tribal groups against AlQaeda

It looks more like the US is setting up its own pet warlords. Again from the IraqSlogger:
(...)al-Hayat reported on a peculiar incident in the province of Wasit, in which the Coalition forces “appointed” a tribal Sheikh as the “head Sheikh” of the province. The man in question, Bashshar Kadhim, was given, along with his “men,” licenses to bear arms by the Coalition, the paper said.

The appointment of Kadhim elicited loud complaints, from tribal as well as government officials. Al-Maliki’s advisor on tribal affairs told al-Hayat that the appointment of a head Sheikh by the US forces, without consulting with the major clans of the province, is “unacceptable” and “goes against tribal traditions.”

Furthermore, a “security source” told the newspaper that Kadhim is not registered as a tribal chief in the records of the interior ministry, and that he has “legal troubles” with the provincial authority for illegally appropriating public estates. Recently, legal proceedings against Kadhim were suddenly halted, the “source” added, upon a “recommendation” from the Coalition forces.

6:22 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Good point. Looks like the same general principle at work. (Unfortunately that Hayat piece is already unavilable on their site or I'd quote a chunk of it).

7:06 PM  

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