The total number of hostile incidents reported nationally was 117, an increase of 9 from the previous reporting period. The number of incidents in the south central region increased again, the third consecutive rise. Elsewhere the number of incidents was within the normally expected levels; however the lethality of the attacks increased in some areas.
In Baghdad, Concerned Local Citizens and Iraqi Security Forces members were the victims of a mass casualty suicide attack. A further mass casualty attack was avoided when Iraqi Security Forces discovered a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device in the south of the city. The north central was not as fortunate as a series of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices resulted in dozens of casualties. Explosively Formed Projectiles were targeted at US Forces and Iraqi Army in Baghdad and Basra, resulting in the death of an Iraqi soldier.
The south central and south east regions saw a rise in hostile incidents for the third consecutive week. US Forces were the primary target and will probably remain so until the planned drawdown. The U.S. has approximately 70,000 troops in Iraq and plans to cut that number to 50,000 by the end of August 2010, ahead of a full withdrawal by 2012. In the west there was a continuation in attacks aimed at local nationals linked to the Government of Iraq. Infrastructure was also targeted again in an attempt by AQIZ to undermine the ability of the Government of Iraq to provide basic services.
Another week has gone passed with no end to the political impasse. On 27 July Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Islamist-led coalition announced that a parliament session scheduled for Tuesday had been cancelled as discussions faltered over the formation of a new government. Haider al-Jorani, an MP from the State of Law coalition, said the session aimed at discussing the makeup of a new government had been postponed indefinitely. The session was due to elect a speaker of the house and a President. This delay does not come as a surprise as members of the State of Law coalition had been quoted in the media speaking negatively about the prospects for progress earlier in the week.
Ahead of the suspended session the Kurdistan Blocs’ Coalition had said that there was no way the Kurds would accept the post of the speaker of parliament as they are expecting the presidential post. The Kurds currently hold the role of President, however, they are probably punching above their weight and it would be unrealistic for them to expect a candidate from al Iraqiya or State of Law to take up what is seen as a lesser role in order to accommodate the Kurds who polled a much lower number of seats (57) in the national elections.
On 27 July the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen arrived in Baghdad to meet with Nuri al Maliki, Jalal Talibani and General Ray Odierno. In a press conference Mullen stated the progress made in securing Iraq since 2007 represented “a truly stunning achievement.” However, in private Mullen is likely be express concerns regarding the failure to form a Government and the affect this is having on the security situation.
Officially reported incidents in Baghdad increased slightly from 28 to 31 during the reporting period.
A mass casualty suicide bombing against an Iraqi Security Forces target was the first of two headline grabbing events during the reporting period. The number of Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device attacks increased during this reporting period, indicating that insurgents have been re-supplied following large cache finds several weeks ago. Most of these attacks targeted off duty Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq employees and were assessed to have been perpetrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq associated Movements. Iraqi Security Forces finds and Explosive Ordnance Disposal action successfully limited the number of effective hostile incidents during the reporting period, of note was the find of a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device near an Iraqi Army check point in the south of the city.
The number of Indirect Fire attacks on the International Zone increased, with two attacks during the reporting period, making it the sixth such attack in July. The second headline incident was the successful Indirect Fire targeting of the US Embassy grounds, causing several injuries. Three foreign security contractors were killed in one of the blasts. Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad was also targeted. It is assessed that these attacks are being launched by Shia’a insurgents, and are likely to continue against US personnel locations in the lead up to the September military draw down, as insurgents seek to paint a picture of US troops retreating under fire. The number of Explosively Formed Projectile incidents was notable, with two successful attacks and two finds in the north of the city. Explosively Formed Projectiles are traditionally Shia’a weapons and the increase in these attacks over the last two weeks fits the assessment that Shia’a insurgents will increase attacks against US Forces in the short term. Al Qaeda in Iraq Associated Movements targeting of Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq related personnel will continue.
A fourth Indirect Fire attack against Basra Contingency Operating Base in 20 days made July the busiest month of the year so far. Since mid May the longest period of time without an Indirect Fire attack has been 14 days. The previous Indirect Fire attack against the Contingency Operating Base was on 13 July, so an attack was expected sometime before 27 July. Another Explosively Formed Projectile attack targeted US Forces south west of Basra City on route Topeka. Attacks in this area are rare; the last attack close to this location was in March. It is assessed that the number of attacks on US Forces (in particular Indirect Fire) will increase as the US Forces draw down date comes closer. This assessment is in line with other areas where the Indirect Fire attacks on US locations have increased.
There may be an increase in the volume of traffic on the Main Supply Routes in the coming days as Shia’a pilgrims make their way to Karbala for the Shabaniyah festival. Local sources indicate that routes Hexagon and Tampa will be busy going west and may attract the potential for problems.