The total number of officially reported hostile incidents increased nationally by eight to 123. Baghdad again accounted for the largest proportion of incidents with hostile activity largely characterised by assassinations of Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq personnel rather than indiscriminate attacks. With the government formation process finally starting to gain momentum there is a possibility that the perceived marginalisation of Sunni political representatives could cause further attacks on representatives of government ministries across the country; indeed this is probably one of the contributing factors behind the recent escalation in violent attacks in Baghdad.
Hostile incidents in the south east region increased slightly and included the second incidence of indirect fire against Basra Contingency Operating Base this month. Hostile activity against Concerned Local Citizens increased in the south central region and included the only mass casualty attack of the reporting period when a motorcycle vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated north of Hillah, wounding ten people. Insurgents in the northern region continue to focus their efforts on targeting government and security officials.
Ever since Prime Minister Maliki received endorsement from the Shia council for another term in office there has been a growing unease about what concessions might have to be made to the Sadrists to retain this support. Emboldened by their increased participation in the government formation process, the Sadrists’ demands are beginning to emerge. Last month the Dhi Qar Iraqi Police chief awarded Muqtada al Sadr the 2010 “Man of Peace” award – an early sign perhaps of the Sadrists acceptance into the fold.
The south east region’s population is said to be quite pessimistic about the agreement between Maliki and the Sadrists because they believe that the Sadrists will impose their agenda and terms on Maliki. These terms have purportedly been leaked to the press recently and stated as follows:
1. Maliki will need to approve their request to rule the seven most important ministries, for example, the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. Additionally, Maliki will be expected to allocate 25 percent of government ministry jobs to Sadr bloc members.
3. Maliki will be obliged to release 1000 Jaish al Mahdi (JAM) prisoners and to enlist them in the Iraqi Army and Police.
Sadr supporters will become more vocal and active until their demands are met – the Iraqi Police Service seem to be intimidated by Sadrists and will therefore be reluctant to deal with them.
Meanwhile any hopes of an Allawi-Maliki alliance were once again dashed as the State of Law Coalition, reinforcing Iraqiyyah’s non-cooperation, denounced any possibility of a union between the two sides. Kamal al-Saadi, a member of the State of Law Coalition stated last week that, “the Iraqiyyah bloc’s request for power sharing with the State of Law is unacceptable on the grounds that it represents the beginning of the sectarian and social division.” Iraqqiyah has consistently rejected suggestions of an alliance with the State of Law but it had been hoped that they might ease their stance on Maliki’s candidacy following his nomination by the Shia groups. However it is unlikely that the two factions will reach agreement, especially as the Kurds begin to form an alliance with the Shia National Alliance, thus diminishing the value of Iraqiyyah’s compliance.
The number of officially reported incidents in Baghdad remained at 59 for the third consecutive week. Insurgent cells in Baghdad have now demonstrated a capability to maintain a high operational tempo that specifically focuses on targeting the Iraqi Security Forces and Government of Iraq civil servants. On 04 October the Director General of the Higher Education Ministry and a senior civil servant within the ministry were targeted by separate roadside improvised explosive devices, illustrating the continuation of the assassination attack trend.
Under vehicle improvised explosive devices and small arms fire attacks were again the most common form of attack in the city. Many of these attacks were not fatal but caused serious injury and will have the intended affect of intimidating the local population and civil servants and diminishing the authority of the Iraqi Security Forces.
There were no mass casualty attacks in Baghdad this week although there is a possibility that attacks were planned. A cache of suicide belts and improvised explosive devices were found in the al-Qahera district of Adamiyah in northern Baghdad on 06 October. Further caches of under vehicle improvised explosive devices and mortars were found in separate searches on the same day and Iraqi Police Services personnel defused four roadside improvised explosive devices on 04 October.
Shia’a insurgents only conducted one indirect fire attack against the International Zone during the reporting period, the only recorded attack against the International Zone this month. Elsewhere Shia’a insurgents were assessed as being responsible for a complex attack against United States Forces - Iraq in the early hours of 09 October, which utilised both an explosively formed projectile and small arms fire.
Demonstrations were held in al-Firdows Square, in the city centre, after Friday Prayers on 08 October. The protestors demanded the acceleration of the government formation process and complained about the lack of services. The demonstrators called for a government to be formed immediately or have the elections re-run. Several similar demonstrations took place in Basra, Karbala and Kut at the same time and were probably orchestrated by the Office of the Martyr Sadr as a way of pressurising Prime Minister al Maliki to accept Sadrist demands as the government formation process nears its end. It is likely that similar protests will be held until the Sadrists are appeased.
On 03 Oct at 1408hrs, Contingency Operating Base Basra was targeted with indirect fire consisting of four 122mm rockets. Subsequent follow-up operations resulted in twenty one individuals being detained and Katyusha rockets and launching rails being recovered. Iraqi Security Forces maintained a high operational tempo following this incident, securing gains against insurgents. Approximately 60 individuals were detained on a combination of charges and a wide range of weapon systems and explosives were seized.
At the al-Maaqal Prison in Basra four prison guards were wounded when several inmates attacked them with hand-grenades. Iraqi Security Forces employed the use of tear gas to regain control of the situation. The men responsible for the attack are believed to belong to armed groups that were arrested in search raids within the framework of the Saulat al-Forsan (Charge of the Knights) security plan. Imprisoned members of the Sadrist Movement and Iraqis loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, had gone on strike three weeks prior to this incident in protest of alleged mistreatment. With Sadrists now buying in to the government formation process they are in a strong position to negotiate freedom for their prisoners and such incidents are likely to increase pressure on the Prime Minister to accept their demands.
Improvised explosive device activity continued to be seen in regular hot-spot locations. A private security company was attacked with an improvised explosive device on route Sioux Falls, south of Basra Province. The attack was ineffective causing only superficial damage to the vehicle and there were no subsequent injuries. It assessed that targeting of private security companies, in particular along the main routes, will continue, with the possibility of an increased rate of attacks as insurgents seek to drive out foreign interests from Iraq.