Thursday, October 30, 2014

Iraq’s Government Failing The Displaced Corruption Within Aid Groups


Iraq is facing another huge refugee crisis. This started when fighting broke out in Anbar at the end of December 2013 and has only gotten worse since then. Many of the major urban centers in Anbar, Ninewa, and Salahaddin such as Fallujah, Mosul, and Tikrit have seen mass displacement, as well as smaller towns like Hit, which recently fell to the Islamic State. There are now an estimated 1.8 million internal refugees. The Iraqi government has promised aid to these people through the Migration and Displacement Ministry as well as a special committee run by Deputy Premier Salah al-Mutlaq. Both of these organizations have been charged with corruption stealing the money meant for people who have lost their homes, and even extorting funds from them. This is another sad chapter in the dysfunction of the Iraqi state.

Various reports have come out that the Migration Ministry and displaced committee are ripe with corruption. On October 1, 2014 the displacement committee in Iraq’s parliament charged the special committee on displacement headed by Deputy Prime Minister Salah al-Mutlaq with blackmailing people. The parliamentary committee said that it was launching an investigation into it. It later reported that Mutlaq’s committee was not providing aid or services and was stealing money. An article by IRIN accused the Migration Ministry of being duplicitous as well. It said that internal refugee families had to pay bribes to officials to receive assistance. It also found evidence that ministry officers were filing fake papers claiming that they were displaced so that they could collect money. Internal refugee families are supposed to get $850 from the ministry to help pay for food and shelter. These are common practices throughout the Iraqi bureaucracy, which is regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world. All too often Iraqi civil servants seek out their own cut of government programs. This ranges from the lowest public employees all the way up to director generals and even ministers themselves. The problem is systemic throughout the government.

Thousands of displaced families and local officials have complained that Baghdad is not providing assistance to the new wave of refugees caused by the insurgency. In the face of this crisis bureaucrats have responded by conducting business as usual siphoning off funds in any number of ways. The displacement of almost two million people has simply offered them more opportunities to steal money that is desperately needed for others who have lost their homes and are now residing in refugee camps, with family or friends or are squatting in abandoned buildings. The situation is only supposed to get worse as winter arrives, yet Baghdad is proving incapable of helping those in need.

SOURCES

Al Forat, “Parliamentary committee: Corruption within committee assigned to distribute financial grant among displaced people,” 10/1/14

IRIN, “Corruption disrupts government aid to Iraq’s displaced,” 10/22/14
- “Without fuel subsidies, aid to displaced Iraqis in jeopardy,” 10/24/14

Al Rafidayn, “Parliamentary Integrity Committee: Financial corruption within displaced commission,” 10/28/14

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Iraq To Finally Get Rid Of Fake Bomb Detectors


New Prime Minister Haider Abadi is making some small steps towards reforming Iraq’s dysfunctional government. In the middle of October 2014 he announced a small, but important move in that direction. The premier said that the fake bomb detectors that were purchased back in 2007 and had been proven not to work over and over again would finally be replaced. New devices from the U.S. are supposed to arrive soon to be installed in Karbala to protect the shrine cities, and then another alternative is supposed to be found for the rest of the country. These detectors, known as the ADE-651 have been a massive scandal wrapped in corruption and incompetence that no one in Iraq would own up to previously. Finally, the new prime minister is moving to rectify this situation that has cost the lives of hundreds of people.

On October 23, 2014 Prime Minister Haider Abadi finally said that the ADE-651s would be removed from service at checkpoints. An alternative would be found, but he didn’t say what that would be. Two days later Adnan Asadi who is the deputy Interior Minister held a press conference stating that modern U.S. bomb detectors would arrive in Iraq this month to be employed in Karbala to protect the pilgrims who flock to that province. He repeated Abadi’s remark that the fake devices would be replaced as well. The ADE-651s were symbolic of the corruption and hubris within the Iraqi government. Despite everyone knowing they did not work Baghdad refused to get rid of them, and denied any wrong doing. Abadi finally moving to get rid of them would be a huge move for improving security. If real detectors can be found and deployed they could help bring down the daily number of bombings, which plague the country and kill hundreds of people every week.

An ADE-651 detector

The purchase of the ADE-651s were shrouded in controversy from the very beginning. The devices were built by Jim McCormick’s ATC out of England. McCormick was inspired to create the 651s when he saw an ad for golf ball finders. He bought 300 of them for $20 each, repackaged them and sold them as detectors for $7,000 a piece. He claimed they could find explosives, drugs, ivory, and money. If that wasn’t enough the devices had no power source, and were supposed to be run by static electricity generated by the operating walking around in circles. In 2007 McCormick signed a deal to sell around 7,000 of them for $2,500-$30,000 each to Iraq’s Interior Ministry. Like all too many contracts this involved huge payoffs to 15 Iraqi officials. The Inspector General at Interior estimated that up to 75% of the $122 million deal could have gone to bribes. Corruption is institutionalized within Baghdad, so it was no surprise that the ATC deal involved it. What made the situation worse was that no one in the leadership would own up to it despite all of the evidence that the devices were not working and that they were killing people.

As soon as the ADE-651s were put into service there were warnings about them. In November 2008, a whistleblower in the British government said that the devices should be banned because they did not work, but he was ignored. In January 2009 another official got the attention of the British parliament who began looking into the detectors. That year the British and American forces in Iraq were investigating the 651s. In June 2009, the U.S. military did a study of the ADE-651 and found that it did not work. The Iraqis were told about the report, but they did nothing. In 2010 England banned the exportation of ATC’s devices, and McCormick was arrested. Finally, in May 2013 McCormick was convicted of fraud and received ten years in prison. The judge said that McCormick’s greed had resulted in the deaths of people around the world, while the ATC owner insisted that they worked all the way to the end.

ATC owner Jim McCormick was sentenced to 10 yrs in prison in 2013. That wasn’t enough to stop Iraq from continuing to use the 651s (EPA)

Within Iraq there were investigations as well. In 2009 the Interior Ministry’s Inspector General started an inquiry, followed by Maliki ordering one after England banned the export of the 651s. Then Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said that his office had looked into the devices and found that they worked, and then stopped the prosecution of six Interior officers who were charged with corruption in the buying of the detectors. In February 2011, the head of the explosives department at the Interior Ministry and two other officers were arrested over buying the 651s, and the Inspector General was able to recover $20 million from the deal. Despite all this, Maliki would not admit to any wrong doing. In May 2013 he said that most of the devices actually worked. He seemed more interested in denying that his government was corrupt and incompetent then removing the devices from service. By then everyone in Iraq knew that the 651s were a farce, but the prime minister wanted to act like business as usual. To do otherwise might have opened the door to more accusations of theft and bribery something Maliki was completely unwilling to do probably because he would have taken it as a personal attack. His hubris outweighed protecting the public from insurgent bombs.

It took seven years for the Iraqi government to do anything about the fake detectors. That only happened after Maliki was removed from office. Even then, Karbala is supposed to get bomb detectors, but what will be employed in the rest of the country has not been detailed nor when they are to arrive. Until then more bombs will go off that could have been deterred if Iraq had taken this matter seriously years ago instead of thinking about money and image over people’s lives.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq PM insists some fake bomb detectors work,” 5/20/13
- “Iraq still using James McCormick’s fake bomb detectors at checkpoints,” 5/3/13

Beaumont, Peter, “Fake bomb detectors were being used in Iraq as recently as last month,” Guardian, 4/23/13

Booth, Robert, “Fake bomb detector conman jailed for 10 years,” Guardian, 5/2/13

Booth, Robert and Jones, Meirion, “UK businessman found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq,” Guardian, 4/23/13

Dazzayi, Saman, “Iraqi Interior Ministry returns $20m to 2010 budget over explosive detector controversy,” AK News, 2/2/11

Habib, Mustafa, “who let the dogs out? iraqi govt. calls in man’s best friend as violence rises,” Niqash, 7/4/13

Independent Press Agency, “Asadi: Modern American devices to detect explosives will arrive in Iraq this month,” 10/25/14

Loftus, Jack, “ADE-651 Magic Wand Bomb Detector Is a Fraud, Probably Killed Hundreds,” Gizmodo, 1/24/10

Al-Mada, “A document proving that Maliki’s office instructed to purchase sonar despite warnings from British inability for detecting explosives,” 5/12/13
- “Iraq’s Integrity Committee pursuing the inventor of explosives detectors and 5 local companies,” 5/14/13

Morris, Steven, Jones, Meirion and Booth, Robert, “The ‘magic’ bomb detector that endangered lives all over the world,” Guardian, 4/23/13

Al Rayy, “Wasit decide to buy sniffer dogs and rescue vehicles for the development of the performance of the police,” 8/12/13

Saad, Mustafa, “Abadi in Karbala: get rid of the sonar device soon and find alternative,” Alsumaria, 10/23/14

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/11

Monday, October 27, 2014

IS Still Making Charge In Anbar While Iraq Forces On Offensive In Babil & Salahaddin 3rd Wk Of October 2014


Violence remains relatively low in Iraq in October 2014 in comparison to the height of the summer offensive. The third week of the month saw a decline in attacks, deaths and wounded from the second week, which witnessed a slight jump in all of those categories. Anbar remained under threat, and the Islamic State (IS) launched a major assault upon a town in Diyala, but eventually withdrew. More importantly fighting returned to Ninewa as Mount Sinjar was fully encircled. In places like Salahaddin and Babil however, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were on the offensive themselves. This is what the military situation in Iraq will look like in the immediate future. The insurgents still have the initiative with the ability to launch attacks when and where they want, but the government forces are trying to reclaim some of the ground that they lost.

The third week of October tied for the second fewest reported attacks of any week of 2014. The press had 156 security incidents from October 15-21. That was down from the previous week, which saw a brief surge in violence with 188 attacks. For the week Anbar had the most attacks with 41, followed by 40 in Baghdad, 34 in Salahaddin, 21 in Ninewa, and then just 7 in Babil, 5 in Diyala, 3 in Basra, 2 each in Kirkuk and Wasit, and one in Karbala. So far Iraq has been averaging 24.4 attacks per day for the month, which is up from September’s 23.0, but below August’s 26.9, July’s 30.0, and June’s 29.3 when fighting was really raging across the center of the country.

Casualties dipped from October 15-21, back down to what was seen at the start of the month. There were 449 dead and 770 wounded recorded in the media. The former was made up of 35 members of the ISF, 24 Peshmerga, four Sahwa, and 386 civilians. The latter consisted of 75 ISF, 51 Peshmerga, five Sahwa, and 639 civilians. That was on par with the first week’s 451 killed and 687 wounded, and below the second week’s 532 fatalities and 875 injured. Baghdad had almost half of the week’s casualties with 205 killed and 453 wounded. That was followed by 79 dead in Salahaddin, 54 in Ninewa, 39 in Anbar, 27 in Diyala, 26 in Karbala, 12 in Babil, 3 in Basra, and two each in Kirkuk and Wasit. Deaths were decidedly down this month from September. During the latter there was an average of 91.4 deaths per day. In October there has only been 68.0 so far. That highlights how fighting has decreased across Iraq since the summer time. That dip started in the middle of August and has continued since then.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2014
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
244
363
736
Jan 8-14
273
364
683
Jan 15-21
205
358
616
Jan 22-28
236
305
618
Jan 29-31
57
93
237
JAN
1,015
1,483
2,890
Feb 1-7
204
296
700
Feb 8-14
226
258
505
Feb 15-21
264
346
703
Feb 22-28
251
374
618
FEB
945
1,274
2,526
Mar 1-7
253
412
702
Mar 8-14
206
324
612
Mar 15-21
216
423
736
Mar 22-27
211
279
580
Mar 28-31
110
168
271
MAR
996
1,606
2,901
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
Apr 8-14
223
362
646
Apr 15-21
251
406
786
Apr 22-28
226
347
744
Apr 29-30
61
82
179
APR
999
1,456
2,905
May 1-7
198
246
483
May 8-14
257
469
752
May 15-21
183
256
426
May 22-28
204
407
817
May 29-31
64
90
132
MAY
906
1,468
2,610
Jun 1-7
227
629
1,021
Jun 8-14
227
1,238
891
Jun 15-21
171
758
754
Jun 22-28
200
720
775
Jun 29-30
56
127
236
JUN
881
3,472
3,684
Jul 1-7
200
511
622
Jul 8-14
213
577
625
Jul 15-21
227
400
1,000
Jul 22-28
224
589
801
Jul 29-31
66
163
230
JUL
930
2,280
3,278
Aug 1-8
269
1,122
885
Aug 9-14
179
710
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
354
499
Aug 22-28
178
523
798
Aug 29-31
59
125
289
AUG
835
2,834
3,623
Sep 1-7
168
616
751
Sep 8-14
157
933
722
Sep 15-21
166
620
749
Sep 22-28
153
395
567
Sep 29-30
47
112
252
SEP
691
2,676
3,047
Oct 1-7
170
451
687
Oct 8-14
188
532
875
Oct 15-21
156
446
769

Violence In Iraq By Province Oct 1-21, 2014
Province
Oct 1-7
Oct 8-14
Anbar
39 Incidents
145 Killed: 78 ISF, 13 Sahwa, 54 Civilians
136 Wounded: 43 ISF, 7 Sahwa, 86 Civilians
27 Shootings
5 IEDs
3 Car Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
2 Suicide Bombers
37 Incidents
44 Killed: 9 ISF, 4 Sahwa, 31 Civilians
56 Wounded: 3 Sahwa, 53 Civilians
28 Shootings
2 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
Babil
10 Incidents
17 Killed: 3 ISF, 14 Civilians
64 Wounded: 4 ISF, 60 Civilians
1 Shooting
7 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
10 Incidents
39 Killed: 2 ISF, 37 Civilians
26 Wounded: 4 ISF, 22 Civilians
8 Shootings
2 IEDs
Baghdad
27 Incidents
77 Killed: 3 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 72 Civilians
212 Wounded: 3 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 207 Civilians
4 Shootings
11 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
36 Incidents
171 Killed: 5 ISF, 166 Civilians
453 Wounded: 1 ISF, 452 Civilians
5 Shootings
20 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
5 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Suicide Bombers
Basra
2 Incidents
1 IED
2 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
Diyala
17 Incidents
41 Killed: 30 ISF, 8 Peshmerga, 3 Civilians
34 Wounded: 20 ISF, 8 Peshmerga, 2 Sahwa, 4 Civilians
12 Shootings
5 IEDs
2 Suicide Bombers
24 Incidents
93 Killed: 8 ISF, 31 Peshmerga, 54 Civilians
152 Wounded: 6 ISF, 4 Peshmerga, 142 Civilians
9 Shootings
16 IEDs
4 Suicide Car Bombs
Kirkuk
11 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
24 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga, 20 Civilians
3 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
1 Suicide Car Bomb
8 Incidents
7 Killed: 1 ISF, 2 Peshmerga, 4 Civilians
30 Wounded: 5 ISF, 4 Peshmerga, 21 Civilians
7 Shootings
1 Motorcycle Bomb
Ninewa
11 Incidents
53 Killed: 53 Civilians
5 Shootings
1 IED
10 Incidents
37 Killed: 37 Civilians
8 Shootings
2 IEDs
Salahaddin
52 Incidents
116 Killed: 44 ISF, 6 Sahwa, 66 Civilians
217 Wounded: 49 ISF, 15 Sahwa, 153 Civilians
25 Shootings
33 IEDs
2 Car Bombs
5 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Suicide Bombers
58 Incidents
140 Killed: 59 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 78 Civilians
158 Wounded: 48 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 107 Civilians
25 Shootings
53 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
7 Car Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Suicide Bomb
Province
Oct 15-21

Anbar
41 Incidents
39 Killed: 4 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 32 Civilians
69 Wounded: 5 Sahwa, 64 Civilians
28 Shootings
3 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs

Babil
7 Incidents
12 Killed: 12 Civilians
33 Wounded: 4 ISF, 29 Civilians
3 Shooting
3 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb

Baghdad
40 Incidents
205 Killed: 19 ISF, 186 Civilians
453 Wounded: 44 ISF, 409 Civilians
10 Shootings
18 IEDs
1 Sticky Bombs
9 Car Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
2 Suicide Bombers

Basra
3 Incidents
3 Killed: 3 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 ISF
3 Shootings

Diyala
5 Incidents
27 Killed: 27 Civilians
4 Shootings
3 IEDs

Karbala
1 Incident
26 Killed: 26 Civilians
55 Wounded: 55 Civilians
4 Car Bombs

Kirkuk
2 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
2 IEDs

Ninewa
21 Incidents
54 Killed: 1 ISF, 22 Peshmerga, 31 Civilians
51 Wounded: 51 Peshmerga
12 Shootings
10 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Suicide Bomber

Salahaddin
34 Incidents
79 Killed: 11 ISF, 2 Peshmerga, 1 Sahwa, 65 Civilians
108 Wounded: 26 ISF, 82 Civilians
18 Shootings
92 IEDs
2 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb

 
Since the Islamic State began its summer offensive in June there have been fewer car bombs each month, but more car bomb waves with greater frequency. In the third week of October there were a total of 20 vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) costing the lives of 167 people and wounding another 289. So far this month there have been four such waves going from October 1-4, October 7-9, October 11-14, and October 19-21. At the beginning of the year there were only around 2-3 waves each month.
Car Bomb Attacks In Iraq Oct 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Oct. 1
New Baghdad, Baghdad
17
59
Oct. 2
Hit x3, Anbar
Great Dam, Diyala
Balad, Salahaddin
46
35
Oct. 3
Outside Samarrra & Tuz Kharmato, Salahaddin
3
8
Oct. 4
Baiji & Tikrit, Salahaddin
12
24
Oct. 5



Oct. 6



Oct. 7
Hit, Anbar
Mashtal & Arboretum, Baghdad
Abassid & Amerli, Salahaddin
40
78
1st Wk Oct Totals
15
118
204
Oct. 8
Garma, Anbar
Sadr City, Baghdad
12
33
Oct. 9
Baquba, Diyala
9
11
Oct. 10



Oct. 11
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar
Kadhimiya & Shula x2, Baghdad
West of Tikrit, Shajarat al-Dor, Tikrit x2, Camp Speicher x4, Salahaddin
86
164
Oct. 12
Qara Tapa, Diyala x3
Samarra, Salahaddin
58
111
Oct. 13
Sadr City & Kadhimiya, Baghdad
31
86
Oct. 14
Kadhimiya, Baghdad
25
56
2nd Wk Oct Totals
22
221
461
Oct. 15



Oct. 16
Ramadi, Anbar
Mahmudiya, Babil
Dawlai, Kadhimiya & Hurriya, Baghdad
Tuz Kharmato, Salahaddin
43
57
Oct. 17
Suleikh, Baladiyat & Karrada, Baghdad
32
101
Oct. 18



Oct. 19
Baiji & Tarmiya, Salahaddin
8
20
Oct. 20
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar
Mosul Dam, Ninewa
Karbala x4, Karbala
44
80
Oct. 21
Kadhimiya x3, Baghdad
40
31
3rd Wk Oct Totals
20
167
289


Despite promises by Prime Minister Haider Abadi government forces have not stopped shelling and carrying out air strikes on civilian areas. In the third week of October Fallujah and an area north of Tikrit were all hit with 47 dead and 56 wounded. The reason why this is such an issue is because the Iraqi army’s artillery is notoriously inaccurate due to poor intelligence and coordination. That means most of the shelling is indiscriminate and has killed a huge number of civilians. Abadi’s remarks about ending this practice would not only appeal to Sunnis who are the victims, but stop a useless tactic that does nothing militarily and just costs the lives of innocent people. Unfortunately nothing has changed.

Casualties From Government Shelling & Air Strikes In Iraq Oct. 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Oct. 1
Fallujah, Anbar

6
Oct. 3
Fallujah, Anbar
4
11
Oct. 4
Rabad, Salahaddin
3
5
Oct. 6
Hit, Anbar
15


Fallujah, Anbar
1
8

Rabia, Ninewa
12

Oct. 7
Fallujah, Anbar
3
5

Khalidiya, Anbar
5
7
1st Wk Oct Totals
-
43
42
Oct. 8
Fallujah, Anbar
7
16

Tikrit, Salahaddin
14

Oct 9
Dour, Salahaddin
7
3
Oct. 10
Fallujah, Anbar
4
13
Oct. 11
Fallujah, Anbar
2
6
Oct. 14
Fallujah, Anbar
3
3

Baiji, Salahaddin
4

2nd Wk Oct Totals
-
41
41
Oct. 15
Fallujah, Anbar
3
6
Oct. 18
Fallujah, Anbar
4
7

North of Tikrit, Salahaddin
18
4
Oct. 19
Fallujah, Anbar
3
9
Oct. 20
Fallujah, Anbar
18
17
Oct. 21
Fallujah, Anbar
1
13








3rd Wk Oct Totals
-
47
56


The Islamic State is continuing its charge across Anbar. In the middle of October it captured an army base outside of Hit. It was able to seize seven Abrams tanks, 22 Humvees, and 18 other vehicles. This adds to the huge stocks of weapons and material that the group has been able to get from the government since June.

Since then IS has been focused upon taking Ramadi. On October 15 IS attacked the city from three directions starting around midnight, and were able to bomb the provincial council building and the Anbar police headquarters. Afterward the Anbar Operations Command said they were going to launch a counter attack starting in the center of the city. The ISF and allied tribes were also trying to clear the outlying towns such as Albu Diab and Albu Jassim. By October 21, the ISF claimed it had secured 60th and 20th Streets along with the Rimayla and Tamim districts of the city in the south and center. Many of these regions have been contested since January however so any gains are usually temporary. If IS was able to take Ramadi it would be a coup since it is the provincial capital. Fighting has been going on there for months, but it finally appears that the insurgents might be gaining the upper hand as they have been able to taken control of new neighborhoods in recent weeks.

(Weather-forecast.com)
IS is also attempting to take Baghdadi and the neighboring Al-Assad base. Militants have been able to surround both the town and the base, and cut off their supply lines. On October 18 reinforcements did arrive at Al-Assad, probably by air. One soldier inside the compound told McClatchy Newspapers that his compatriots were broken and didn’t know how long they could hold out. Recently U.S. advisers were deployed to the base as well. They find themselves in a precarious situation, and could be the first American troops to face combat if security continues to deteriorate there. More importantly Assad is the largest remaining base in Anbar and its capture would be another coup for the insurgents.

(Institute for the Study of War)
Amiriya Fallujah is a major target as well. October 15 IS began attacks on the city, and the local police chief said that the town was almost surrounded. On October 16 insurgents launched another three pronged assault upon it, which was repulsed. The next day reinforcements arrived. October 18 IS made another attempt on the town. That failed as well, but the insurgents have been able to consolidate their hold on the surrounding rural areas. October 19 a member of the Anbar council told the press that the army backed by coalition air strikes was able to break open supply lines to Amiriya relieving some of the pressure there. The town is another part of Anbar that has been hotly contested for weeks and gone back and forth between government and insurgent hands. The attacks there, in Ramadi, Baghdadi and Al-Assad show that the militants are operating in western, central and eastern Anbar simultaneously, and rather successfully, while stretching the ISF and tribes.

On a positive note, the Interior Ministry approved the formation of a local security force for the province. It is to be made up of three brigades of 1,000 tribal fighters each. It will be called the Special Task Force Brigades, and be trained by the U.S. at the Habaniya base in the center of the province. The Anbar council has embraced the idea of a national guard to be under local control. The Iraqi parliament has not passed the legislation to form this force yet, so these new brigades are the next best the thing. The question is how quickly can they be armed and trained and put out into the field as all of Anbar is on the brink with militants controlling at least 80% of the territory.

The third week of October saw the fourteenth security operation of 2014 begin in northern Babil. The thirteenth sweep of the province was announced around October 15 when the Mayor of Musayib announced that Sadr’s Peace Brigades had cleared the lakes region of Iskandiriya, and were going to turn over the area to the ISF. Then on October 20 the fourteenth operation began. First, the ISF and militias said it had cleared the road linking Jurf al-Sakhr to Amiriya Fallujah in Anbar, which had been used as a supply route for the Islamic State. The government had been working on this area for several weeks. Then the ISF and allies began advancing into northeast Babil from Anbar. On October 21 it was reported that 100 insurgents surrounded, as the Babil Operations Command began the new campaign. These are the exact same tactics employed in the last operation. That one included the Anbar, Bahgdad and Babil Operation Commands and pushed in from the north west and east into Babil. As with the previous ones there were reports of success, but a new operation beginning almost immediately afterward belies those comments. Militias have complained that there was a lack of coordination with the ISF and volunteers in previous campaigns, and that Maliki was interfering with the military leadership and planning. It’s yet to be seen whether the government can clear and hold ground in this area, which is has focused upon since the start of the year.

Baghdad saw another series of car bombings and suicide attacks during the week. October 16 four VBIEDs went off in Dawlai, Kadhimiya and Hurriya killing 32 and wounding 78. Kadhimiya has been targeted again and again in the past few weeks as it is a core Shiite neighborhood with an important shrine. The next day, three car bombs detonated in Adhamiya, Baladiyat and Karrada costing 32 lives and injuring 101. Then October 19 and 20 suicide bombers hit two mosques killing a total of 40 and injuring 69. Finally, October 21 Kadhimiya was struck by three more VBIEDs with 40 dead and 31 wounded.

(Arsenal For Democracy)
In Diyala IS attempted to seize a target of opportunity in Qara Tapa. October 20 it assaulted and held the town for several hours. It entered wearing peshmerga uniforms and were able to kidnap six people, while executing nine. Then a full scale battle broke out. Almost half of the town’s 9,000 residents fled as a result. The seeming victory was short lived as the next day the militants withdrew. The militias, ISF and peshmerga had all been on the offensive in Diyala over the last few weeks. The attack upon Qara Tapa had no strategic significance, but it highlighted the ability of the insurgents to continue operations in the midst of military pressure being applied to them.

Fighting returned to Ninewa in the middle of October. During the second week of the month the Kurds said that they were liberating Sinjar, which was taken by the Islamic State in August, but then it was revealed that IS had actually surrounded Mount Sinjar and were trying to take it once again. On October 20 there were clashes in all the surrounding areas such as Khazir, Bartella, Bashiqa, Tilkaif and Mount Sinjar itself. IS was able to seize two towns north of the mountain that day as Yazidi fighters ran out of ammunition. Twenty peshmerga were also killed and 51 wounded. On Mount Sinjar there are two Yazidi militias resisting the IS push. They told Rudaw that they had not received supplies for weeks. There are also YPG, PKK, and peshmerga fighters in the area as well. IS has cut off the supply routes to the mountain and the Yazidi forces are desperate for weapons and ammunition. This reverses the positive news that had come out of the area previously with the Kurds able to take several towns and the Rabia border crossing with Syria. There are still a few hundred families on Mount Sinjar, and if it were taken more massacres and kidnappings would occur as happened during the first IS assault in August.

The security forces launched a multi-pronged operation in Salahaddin to take Baiji and Tikrit. October 16 the chief of the Salahaddin Operations Command let the press know about the new campaign. On October 19 the ISF freed Albu Tuma to the north of Tikrit. October 21 the elite Golden Division was fighting in Hajaj in the Baiji district to the north of Tikrit as well. That area was said to have been cleared on October 10 and again on October 20, but as with many places it has gone back and forth. October 21 the Salahaddin Police chief noted that the ISF had gotten to the outskirts of Baiji in the south, and took the village of Mazra in the district. The security forces are attempting to surround Tikrit, which fell to insurgents back in June. Baiji is also important as the nearby Baiji refinery is a major piece of infrastructure that needs to be kept in government hands. The refinery itself has faced renewed attacks in the last few weeks as well. It would be an important piece of equipment to help IS maintain its territory if it could operate it.

(Wikipedia)
In eastern Salahaddin’s Tuz Kharmato there is on going violence and problems between the militias and peshmerga. October 16 a car bomb went off at the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the city of Tuz. Then on October 18 members of the Badr militia got into a gunfight with the peshmerga in the district. A Badr vehicle refused to stop at a Kurdish checkpoint leading to a skirmish that left 1 peshmerga and two militiamen injured. The two sides then met to try to resolve the issue. This is not the first time an incident like this has occurred there. The two forces are attempting to assert their control over the district, which has led to tensions rising between them. The area appears to be up for grabs as many of the Sunni residents have fled and the militias are carrying out retaliatory attacks to drive more out and stop others from returning by destroying their houses.

SOURCES

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AIN, "Death toll of eastern Baghdad explosion increase," 10/17/14
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- “Security forces liberate some areas central Ramadi,” 10/21/14
- “Urgent ….. IA control Hajaj village northern Tikrit,” 10/20/14
- "Urgent…Karrada explosion casualties increase," 10/17/14

Alsumaria, "Killing and wounding 22 in the bombing targeting homes north of Tikrit," 10/18/14
- "Renewed clashes between son of Jabour and Daash organization in Dhuluiya," 10/16/14

Associated Press, "Suicide, car bombings in Iraq kill at least 43," 10/20/14

Buratha News, "Baghdad operations confirms the martyrdom and wounding of 50 people in Habayebna," 10/21/14
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Al Forat, "70 ISIL terrorists killed, injured in failed attack at Baiji refinery," 10/15/14
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Iraq Times, "17 martyrs and injured in car bombing north of Baghdad," 10/19/14

Al Mada, “Anbar Council declares “cleanse” Albu Diab north of Ramadi,” 10/17/14
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- "Breaking News../21/ people killed and wounded in the explosion of Mahmudiyah," 10/16/14
- "Breaking News..Nine soldier and the sons of the tribes killed and wounded in a suicide attack in central Ramadi," 10/16/14
- "The death toll of victims of the bomb in Sulekh rose to 22 people killed and wounded," 10/17/14
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Al Rayy, “The people of Qara Tapa elements of Daash forced to retreat westward,” 10/21/14
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Sadiq, Hoshmand, “Clashes Between Shiite Militia and Peshmerga Near Kirkuk,” Bas News, 10/18/14

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