19 August 2008

Diyala Province Update

Iraq Vet and VFF member, David Bellavia, offers this dispatch available on popular milblog BlackFive from an embed in Diyala province. Good to see that COIN-doctrine is being utilized successfully and that the Chief of Diyala police, whose sectarian allegiance has been extremely questionable, was recently replaced by the governor of the province. But, Diyala has been a hotbed of insurgent activity after the Anbar Awakening in 2006 and the initial surge in Baghdad in 2007 pushed many militants into the province. To complicate problems, the police force is primarily Shi'ite while the majority of the population is Sunni, and it borders Iran. This allows for exportation of weapons across the porous border, including donkeys smuggling munitions into the province. The Sahwa movement in Diyala has been essential to maintaining some of the security gains in the province, and that's why Dr. Irack of Abu Muqawama has some disturbing news concerning their future:

Dr. iRack has also heard credible rumors that Maliki hopes that his provocative treatment of the SoIs will encourage them to start a fight, giving Maliki an excuse to bring the Iraqi security forces down on them. Hard. Some of Maliki's concerns about the SoIs are legitimate, but a failure to accommodate them could spell big trouble.

The situation in Iraq remains complex, and as Democracy Arsenal recently stated after having an associate in Iraq "Despite the improved security environment, no one in Baghdad, including Gen. David Petraeus, is doing a victory dance (even as a rising number of commentators in Washington do just that)." It's a bit of a disservice to our troops in the field and the Iraqis to simply wash our hands of the war and assume the mission is accomplished. Issues like how the Iraqi government employs the Sahwa members are significant both politically and tactically.