The total number of officially reported hostile incidents nationally decreased slightly from 123 to 116. Baghdad again accounted for the largest proportion of incidents with hostile activity being characterised by assassinations of Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq personnel rather than indiscriminate attacks. There was a notable decline in attacks from Shia insurgents, with the south east not recording any officially reported hostile incidents. The indirect fire attacks against Baghdad’s International Zone stopped this week after consistent bombardment throughout September and several attacks in early October. The lack of activity is assessed to be related to the ongoing political negotiations that have seen the Sadrists gain strength, thus subduing Shia tensions. This may not last as Shiites become anxious at delays in the consolidation of Shiite rule in government.
Hostile incidents in the north, north central and western regions also focused primarily on Government of Iraq associated targets and Iraqi Security Forces. The type of activity now being experienced in the northern region supports claims that criminality rather than insurgency is on the increase. Activity levels in the western region remained consistent.
Reports surfaced that the Sunni Sons of Iraq forces’ members are re-joining Al Qaeda in Iraq as a result of the lack of support provided to them by the government, for instance by failing to incorporate them within government ministries and not creating employment opportunities. These reports have yet to be confirmed and it is more likely that members of the Sons of Iraq are leaving their posts in search of more well-paid and secure employment having faced intensified attacks at hands of Al Qaeda.
Last week saw more potentially clever maneuvering from the members of the State of Law Alliance as they promoted the possibility of Iraqiyyah’s Iyad Allawi becoming the speaker of parliament. This move has been cited as an attempt to sideline Allawi from the premiership whilst reinforcing the sectarian quota system, thus strengthening the concept of Shiite rule in Iraq. By giving the parliamentary speaker role to Allawi, Maliki would be designating him as the representative of the Sunnis, thus distorting the secular image of Iraqiyyah in the eyes of the electorate. This in turn will endorse the sectarian quota system that would see the Shiites under Maliki put forward as the rightful rulers of Iraq by occupying the premiership for the foreseeable future. The Kurds will be allocated the presidency following their cooption into the Shiite Coalition and thus the quota system would be complete.
While the two main options for government, a Maliki led coalition and Allawi led coalition, pay lip service to the idea of a government that includes all the different factions, the negotiations over the top roles indicate that they are highly competitive. Should one of these coalitions succeed the opposition would likely be excluded from the significant roles in government. Both are bidding for Kurdish support, though Allawi will find it hard to win over the Kurds without damaging his support base as Kurdish aspirations clash with those of northern Arab residents who do not wish to see Kirkuk integrated within the Kurdish Regional Government area. However it is unlikely that the Iraqi National Alliance would fully support Kurdish aspirations either, despite pandering to them during negotiations.
The American option for the Iraq government formation advocates the “government of everyone” model, by seeking a four-way agreement between Iraqiyyah, State of Law, the Iraqi National Alliance and the Kurds, enhanced by constitutional reform. This model is untenable as not only will the wrangling factions find it hard to facilitate such an agreement but any constitutional change such as the American prescribed limitations on the powers of the Prime Minister would incredibly difficult to ratify, given the reluctance of candidates to give up their powers and the poor Iraqi political track record of keeping to a timeline.
Maliki remains the front runner in the final negotiations to form the next government and he will likely win over some less keen members of the Iraqi National Alliance whilst securing support from the two kingmakers, the Kurds and more recently the Sadrists, whose demands are making many in Iraq nervous.
Insurgent activity continued at the same frenetic pace seen since Ramadan. Operations have focused almost entirely on Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq civil servants. On 14 October four people were killed and seven wounded when a roadside improvised explosive device detonated against the convoy of al-Iraqiyyah List member Abdulkarim Mahoud in southern Baghdad. Attacks against politicians were not limited to one particular party; on 16 October two members of the al-Ahar (Liberals) political bloc, part of the Shia National Alliance, were injured in a under vehicle improvised explosive attack.
Attacks against those associated with the government and national security forces will continue and may increase in the near future as Sunni discontent is likely to grow as the government formation process seemingly excludes them. Targeting of United States Forces in the city continued, though at a lower frequency. There were two explosively formed projectile attacks against United States Forces convoys in the north of the city on 14 and 15 October. Although combat operations have ended, the United States Forces still have to move around the city on a daily basis to resupply installations, making them vulnerable to attack.
There were no indirect fire attacks against the International Zone this week which might be explained by a cache find of a large number of rockets uncovered in Sadr City. However, the lack of indirect fire attacks is more likely to be related to high level political negotiations than the number of rockets available.
The number of officially recorded incidents in south east region decreased to zero this week. Basra security force operations continued throughout the province mainly targeting criminal groupings involved in drugs and theft. During the operational sweeps a number of rockets, weapons and ammunition were recovered. The frequent discovery of weapons caches in conjunction with the arrest of criminal elements indicates that the supply and smuggling of weaponry is not indigenous to extremist / insurgent groupings.