The number of incidents reported nationally showed a slight decrease from 145 last week to 123 incidents this week. Marked fluctuations in incident levels have become characteristic of the security picture in 2010 as security force initiatives reach the more difficult stage of trying to uproot the foundation of insurgent groups in Iraq.
A slight rise in the use of Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP’s) was recorded this week, up to eight from five last week. Out of the eight detonations country wide, seven occurred in the Baghdad area and one in the South Central region. There were no officially reported Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) in Baghdad during the review period, with the majority of VBIED attacks taking place in the north, which saw the biggest increase in overall activity, with 16 reported incidents compared to six for the previous week. These levels are still comparatively low when compared to the north central region, though it is assessed that there is an enduring residual threat in the province of Ninevah which encompasses Al-Qaeda strongholds such as the village of Amil in Mosul. Security gains in hotspots like this will be harder to attain as local communities remain fearful of insurgent threats and wary of the combined security forces operational efficacy.
The north central region saw a big decrease in officially reported incidents, going from 62 last week to 37 this week, dropping by almost half. Baghdad saw a drop in officially reported incidents from 54 to 42. Both the north central region and the capital city are likely to remain the focus of insurgent efforts, though recent incidents do not suggest an increase in the level of sophistication of attacks.
The spate of assassination attacks indicate that Iraq is witnessing a period of score settling among different factions, particularly between the anti-Al Qaeda Sahwa militia and Al-Qaeda insurgents. The ready availability of weaponry and the weakness of the federal administration will likely see this period of unsettling incidents extended over the next few months. It is worth noting that these incidents are not explicitly linked to the current political situation and therefore will not necessarily decline following the conclusion of the current parliamentary negotiations. The increase in criminal activity, witnessed again this week with a second attack on a bank in Baghdad on 20 June is likely to continue as insurgents seek to acquire alternative funding whilst destabilising Iraq’s fragile security.
Political negotiations have been lacking in progress during the review period as parliamentary wrangling over the key posts, notably that of Prime Minister, remains fraught as the main factions struggle to reach a compromise. The effect of this extended period of political limbo has been felt throughout the country as the electorate suffer sweltering heat and a lack of basic services.
The south and south central regions have witnessed popular protests against the lack of electricity in particular in Basra where residents are forced to endure up to twenty hours without electricity. At least one protestor was reportedly shot dead by police forces responding to the unrest in Basra on 19 June. Heavy handed police treatment of protestors coupled with neglect at the hands of parliamentary representatives has angered Iraqi civilians who have begun to single out ministers for accountability. The electricity minister Karim Waheed has handed in his resignation though Al-Maliki has yet to accept it, stating frankly that Iraq could be in for another two years of limited electricity supply and Waheed has the level of experience required to tackle the problem.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari summarised the public mood towards the political difficulties by saying, “People are tired of the lack of services, lack of action, and all this debate on television about government formation and positions. The public sense is one of anger and tiredness.” Many Iraqis view the new “Super Shiite coalition” with suspicion as they cite Iranian influence as well as an abandonment of the secular vision epitomised by Iraqiya for a religious alliance urged on by the Shiite cleric Ayatollah Al Sistani. Iraqiya leader Allawi has not alleviated these concerns, as he has publicly spoken about the threat of assassination attempts against him, supposedly verified by American sources, which he claimed could be sponsored by Al-Maliki’s allies. These political disputes are exacerbating public discontent whilst providing insurgents with a window of opportunity to reassert their strength by carrying out headline grabbing attacks.
The capital city witnessed another attack on a bank during the review period as twin car bombs exploded in a car park of a private bank in central Baghdad on 20 June killing at least six people and wounding 42. The building housing the bank was heavily damaged in the blasts and two of the dead were police officers guarding a nearby Interior Ministry office that issues Iraqi ID cards. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have reinforced security measures around potential targets of robberies such as goldsmiths and jewellers in anticipation of further criminal activity. This perceived crime wave could be indicative of a change in insurgent tactics, techniques and procedures towards organised crime.
At Camp Taji the threat levels for kidnapping and Indirect Fire (IDF) remained high in accordance with reports of insurgent movements near Taji and the area witnessed two Small Arms Fire (SAF) attacks.
No attacks were reported against Private Security Details and Route Irish and the International Zone and Baghdad airport did not witness any incidents. There were no officially recorded EFP attacks in the capital (although there was an ineffective EFP attack against USFI in the Abu Ghraib area).
The level of security remained stable in Basra province with only a few incidents reported this week. There was however a significant increase in civil unrest as Basrawis expressed their dissatisfaction with the provision of basic services, in particular at the dire level of electricity supply as temperatures rose to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The death of two protestors further antagonized local communities who are likely to persist in their demonstrations, despite the recent resignation of the Minister of Electricity.
The head of Basrah’s provincial council, Jabber Amin, announced on 21 June that he would be pushing for greater autonomy from Iraq’s central government for Basra in an attempt to allay concerns over the neglect of local issues. Previous efforts to achieve more independence for Basra have failed to secure enough support and Basrawis fear that the provincial council will struggle to maintain security and services without American assistance.
US Forces and Iraq Security Forces and their associates will continue to be targeted by insurgent elements with Improvised Explosive Devices and Explosively Formed Projectile attacks on Main Supply Routes and Indirect Fire attacks against the Basra Contingency Operating Base.