Weekly Security Update for 8th September 2010

National Overview

The total number of officially reported hostile incidents nationally was 126 last week, consistent with the number of incidents recorded during the last reporting period. The number of incidents in the west rose by a quarter this week and incidents in Baghdad also rose significantly. The south east saw a very minor rise in the number of incidents. Incidents in the south central, north and north central areas decreased this week.

Although incident levels have remained consistent over this fortnight, the incidents occurring last week affected far fewer casualties and caused less damage. Insurgents operating in the north central and western areas appear to be benefiting from increased freedom of movement brought about by the fall in number of U.S. Forces.

There were further attacks on infrastructure during the reporting period, including Improvised Explosive Device attacks against electrical pylons in Hillah, power generators in Baghdad and a water tower in Anbar. These attacks are assessed to have been the work of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) or their associated movements seeking to undermine local and national Government.

The resilient militant networks who undertook the 25 August attacks will be difficult to uproot and we can expect further synchronized attacks to come, probably to correspond with future religious festivals or indeed new government formation. The Ramadan / Eid religious ceremonial period provides a unique opportunity for insurgents to attack when the security forces and civilians’ defences are low. This year the Eid festival will coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which is potentially an irresistible coincidence for Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) and their associated movements to launch large scale attacks.

The most likely culprits were neo-Baathist insurgents, probably with assistance from Islamist elements such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (branded as the Islamic State of Iraq). Though almost all the mass casualty bombings were remote-controlled car bombs, at least two of the thirteen devices were suicide-detonated, indicating an Islamist element. According to Olive’s contacts in the U.S. government, key former regime leaders such as Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri are floating to the top of the boiled-down insurgency. These figures are able to bridge the divide between nationalist and Islamist wings of the insurgency and even to cross sectarian and ethnic lines to some extent. The objective of such movements is to maintain resistance and foster a state of chaos until such time as the Iraqi people call for a stronger nationalist government. At that point, it is posited by U.S. intelligence analysts, elements of the old Baath will seek to gain power through election, running on a platform of experience in security and governance, technocratic competence, and toughness vis-à-vis Iran.

Baghdad

Reported incidents in Baghdad rose from 34 to 47 last week. The International Zone was targeted for three days in a row during the reporting period. This is a continuation of Shia’a militants’ harassment campaign to coincide with the draw down of US Forces. One of the attacks was seemingly conducted to coincide with the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden. Shia’a insurgents were also responsible for the IDF attack against Victory Base Camp – none of the attacks resulted in death or serious injury.

An electricity generator was targeted with an Improvised Explosive Device in the Shia’a area of west Rasid. This may have been carried out by Sunni insurgents to stoke up anger and provoke a response. Such attacks are often conducted to undermine faith in the ability of the GoI to provide basic essential services.

Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Devices remained the most prevalent form of assassination in the City in this reporting period. An Iraqi Police Services member working at the passport office in Kadimiyah was killed by an Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device on 31 August and an Iraqi Security Forces Colonel was injured by device on 02 September; several civilians (probably with links to Government of Iraq or Iraqi Security Forces) were also targeted during the review period. However, the most significant Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device attack was aimed at Hussein al Mir’ibi, a leading figure in the Shia’a Fadhila party and member of the Iraqi National Alliance, who did not sustain any injuries from the attack.

Basra

There was only one significant hostile incident in Basra last week which took the form of an Improvised Explosive Device attack against a Private Security Company vehicle as it transited south west of Az Zubayr on route Tampa. The Improvised Explosive Device damaged the vehicle but did not result in any injuries. The area in which the attack took place has been targeted several times in the recently as insurgents know that there is a large volume of United States Forces – Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces and Private Security Company traffic in the area.

The discovery of two Improvised Explosive Devices and an Explosively Formed Projectile around the province indicates that Shia’a insurgent intent remains high. The Explosively Formed Projectile discovery was made in the vicinity of route Tampa in Umm Qasr and was likely designed to target a passing United States Forces – Iraq or Private Security Company convoy as there are an increasing number transporting United States Military equipment out of Iraq via Umm Qasr port.

Atmospherics in Basra were tainted by more demonstrations in the City protesting against the lack of electricity in the province. According to open sources, authorities in Muthana province took action against illegal electricity lines enabling them to increase the electricity supply. Further civil demonstrations in the south east region can be expected.

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