Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mosul Heating Up

Right now most of the (bad) news is coming out of Baghdad, and areas within one hundred miles of Baghdad. The surge is failing to reduce sectarian death squad killings for the JAM and its splinter groups have restarted their operations after observing the ineffectiveness of the increased troop presence in protecting their own communities, and the Iraqi national government is not even competent and capable enough to be a believable farce. Basra is slightly quieter this month than last month, and Kirkuk is a pending powder keg. However Mosul has been comparatively quiet lately.

That is changing.

Reuters reports two disturbing incidents yesterday. The first is a double suicide bombing that destroyed a Tigris River bridge just north of the city. This is the third bridge attack in Iraq that was successful in severing the route and the first outside of Baghdad. Mosul's population is multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian. The Arab population lives on one bank while the Kurdish population lives on the other bank. Dropping a bridge reinforces the division and offers multiple motives for multiple actors.

This is a frightening long term concern --- Mosul replaying the Baghdad sectarian bloodbath in slow motion. However the second report from Reuters shows that someone in Mosul has a massive amount of organizational planning complexity and capacity and is not afraid to use it.

Four policemen were killed and 30 people were wounded when about 200 insurgents attacked an Iraqi police station and a prison and set off a series of bombs in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

200 men if they are anything more than a drunken and aimless mob is a highly complex social organization. Someone has had enough time to develop the leadership and management cadres to get a group of this size together, plan and execute a complex mission. We very seldom see insurgent groups of this size since the city of Fallujah was recaptured in November of 2004. Someone has their act together and is able to assemble an insurgent force that is nearly equal in size to most Iraqi Army battalions on a normal day.

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