Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Battle for Baghdad Rages

The capture of Fallujah has not ended terrorism in greater Baghdad. Some political accountability is in order to protect the people of the city.

People aren't doing their jobs, whether it is not taking bribes or calling the police when they see something suspicious around Baghdad. That's how terrorists are operating in the city. At least a leader was fired:

An attack on a Shiite shrine north of the capital has killed 37 people, Iraqi official said Friday, just hours before Iraq's prime minister fired Baghdad's security chief as public anger mounted over security failings.

According to a statement from his office, Haider al-Abadi fired the commander of Baghdad Operations as the embattled prime minister faced growing protests at the site of a large-scale bombing, where at least 186 people were killed earlier this week.

The best case scenario is that Fallujah was a major part of the attack network and that cells in the pipeline are accelerating their attacks lest information gained from capturing Fallujah lead to their identification. If so, attacks will dwindle when the pipeline of terror cells ends.

The worst case is that corruption is so bad that terrorists have other safe havens even in government-controlled territory as government people are paid to look away and people who see things don't report that out of fear of retribution by a corrupt system that sells them out to the terrorists.

And of course there is the reality that terrorists operate even without territory of their own. So ending the Iraq branch of the ISIL caliphate won't end terrorism, just shift the war to a COIN battle from a war of movement to control territory.

UPDATE: The Iraqi military has seized an important air base that will be used to support the big push on Mosul:

The Qayyarah airbase in the Tigris valley 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul would be "an important base for the liberation of Mosul," [Prime Minister] Abadi said in a statement. ...

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said two army divisions and members of the country's counter-terrorism forces took the base with air support from a US-led international coalition.

Security sources said jihadists had fled towards Mosul after the base was taken.

An officer taking part in the operation said bomb disposal teams were removing booby traps and mines left behind by IS fighters.

I know that enemies retreat until they don't, but do we have any indication that the jihadis will really fight to the death for Mosul rather than abandoning the eastern caliphate and running to Syria where survival seems more likely or scattering within Iraq to go pure terrorist?

UPDATE: We will send troops to that base:

U.S. forces will move advisers and other staff to an Iraqi airfield recaptured from Islamic State to help locals organize a push on Mosul, the militants' largest stronghold, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said before arriving in Baghdad on Monday.

So the Mosul campaign can begin. I really don't understand why the offensive can't start soon rather than at the end of the year.

UPDATE: We will send 560 additional troops:

The additional troops will provide a range of support for Iraqi Security Forces, including infrastructure and logistical capabilities at the airfield near Qayyarah. As the campaign shifts toward Mosul, more than 250 miles from the Iraqi capital, the airfield will become a vital springboard for the ISF offensive into Mosul. Coalition forces will also continue to provide enabler support to Kurdish Peshmerga as they converge on Mosul from Iraq's north.

And Iraq War 2.0 continues.