Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Security Situation In Mosul

Operation Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Springs

On May 10, 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched Operation Lion’s Roar to clear the northern city of Mosul in Ninewa province of insurgents. The second half of the offensive was later named Mother of Two Springs, and resulted in the arrests of over 1,000 suspects, including Al Qaeda in Iraq’s emir of Mosul Ahmad Umar Nasir al-Sabawi, and the capture of various weapons stashes. During the Surge many of Al Qaeda’s fighters and other insurgents had been pushed north and congregated in Mosul, which was considered their last urban stronghold. The city was also a way station for foreign fighters traveling from Syria into central Iraq and Baghdad, and a major source of funding for the insurgency. Maliki had been talking about clearing the city since at least December 2007, but after two large bombings in January 2008 that killed the provincial police chief, the prime minister announced an offensive would be pending. U.S. and Iraqi forces began moving into insurgent strongholds in early February. By the time the actual offensive was announced in May, most of the troops and tactics were already in place such as building a berm around the city and creating outposts within it. After ten days, the Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Spring was ended and declared a success. The U.S. commander for northern Iraq said attacks were down 85% from 40 per day down to 4-6. A major flaw was that the offensive was made public so far in advance that many insurgents fled before it started.

Still Violent

A cursory look at press accounts of attacks shows little change over the last seven months. In fact, the number of attacks is slightly up in recent months. Here is a breakdown of the number of the violence in Mosul from the four months before Operations Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Springs and the two months afterwards. “Incidents” are things like finding dead bodies, which is quite common in the city.

January 2008:
  • 32 attacks/19 incidents – 1.03 attacks/day – 1.65 attacks & incidents/day
  • 109 killed – 3.52 deaths/day
  • 362 wounded – 11.68 wounded/day
February 2008:
  • 47 attacks/8 incidents 1.62 attacks/day – 1.9 attacks & incidents/day
  • 86 killed – 2.97 killed/day
  • 80 wounded 2.76 wounded/day
  • 6 kidnapped
March 2008:
  • 54 attacks/13 incidents – 1.74 attacks/day – 2.16 attacks & incidents/day
  • 97 killed – 3.13 killed/day
  • 147 wounded – 4.74 wounded/day
  • 3 kidnapped
April 2008:
  • 53 attacks/10 incidents – 1.77 attacks/day – 2.1 attacks & incidents/day
  • 71 killed 2.37 killed/day
  • 209 wounded 7.0 wounded/day
  • 42 kidnapped
June 2008:
  • 49 attacks/incidents – 1.63 attacks/day – 1.97 attacks & incidents/day
  • 100 killed 3.33 killed/day
  • 279 wounded 9.3 wounded/day
  • 4 kidnapped
July 2008:
  • 67 attacks/7 incidents – 2.16 attacks/day – 2.39 attacks & incidents/day
  • 96 killed 3.1 killed/day
  • 111 wounded 3.58 wounded/day
  • 2 kidnapped

January had the highest death and wounded because of two huge bombings. One on January 23 that killed ten and wounded 70, and then the next day that killed 34, including Ninewa’s police chief, and wounded 224, that led Maliki to announce a crackdown in the city. In February U.S. and Iraqi forces began their operations to clear the city and attacks and incidents rose from 51 in January, to 55 in February, to 67 in March and 63 in April. Since Operation Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Spring there has been a slight increase in the number of attacks or killed with 59 attacks and incidents in June, followed by 74 in July. More importantly, the average number of daily attacks actually increased from 1 attack per day in January to an average of around two from February to July. The number killed remained just around 3 per day from February to July, with the lowest being 2.37 killed/day in April and the highest at 3.33 killed/day in June. While the U.S. commander for northern Iraq said that overall attacks were down in the city from 2007 to 2008, their numbers have not changed much this year at all,either before or after the security operation.

Underlying Issues Not Addressed

The reasons why Mosul remains violent before and after the security operation is that the underlying causes of the conflict in the city have not been addressed. Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city with a multi-ethnic population. Sunni Arabs are the majority, approximately 60-70%, but there are also a large number of Kurds, 25%, Shiites 5%, and other minorities such as Christians, Yezidis, Turkomen, and Shabacks. The city itself is divided by the Tigris River that meanders through the middle. In the west is mostly Sunni Arab, while the east is mostly Kurdish. The east and north are mostly Sunni as well because of an Arabization policy carried out by Saddam Hussein who pushed Arabs to move northwards during his reign. Today they are turning more Kurdish however. During the Saddam years Mosul was a Baathist stronghold with many army officers.

After the U.S. invasion, the city fell into chaos with looting and violence that brought up the ethnic divisions. Most importantly, Arabs fought Kurds, and the two main Kurdish parties moved their Peshmerga militiamen into city as a power grab to try to annex it. There were too few U.S. troops to contain this brewing conflict until General David Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division moved in. General Petraeus set up a local government, started reconstruction projects, and just as importantly forced the Peshmerga out. He was able to maintain a rough balance of power between the contending forces that led to relative stability.

After the 101st was withdrawn however in 2004 the city once again descended into chaos. Many insurgents began moving into the city and joined with the large number of Baathists that were still there. In November 2004 hundreds of fighters stormed the police stations and only 200 of 5,000 remained on duty. The insurgents were able to take over western Mosul and parts of the east. Again faced with too few troops, the U.S. had to call in the Kurdish Peshmerga to restore security. This time, they never left. The Kurdish militia were later given formal recognition as the 2nd Iraqi Army Division.

By 2007 western Mosul was becoming an insurgent and Al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold as many fled the U.S. Surge. Al Qaeda and others posed as the protectors of Arabs against Kurdish expansion. The Islamists also tried to steer away from their previous actions such as killing civilians and their rivals that had alienated Sunnis in other parts of the country. Attacks steadily increased as a result, with Ninewa province being one of the few were deaths and attacks went up during 2007. In November the U.S. launched Operation Iron Hammer that was partly aimed at Mosul, but attacks still increased. This all led up to the January 2008 bombings that led Prime Minister Maliki to announce a new crackdown there. This latest operation, just like the previous one, did not deal with the Arab-Kurdish problem. General Petraeus was the only one that was able to find a rough balance between the two, something that’s never been achieved since.

Conclusion

There are no signs that the Maliki government plans on addressing the ethnic tensions now either. Maliki promised $100 million for reconstruction after Lion’s Roar, and that tribal Sons of Iraq forces outside the city and members of Saddam’s security forces would be integrated into the local security, but there was nothing about addressing the Kurdish intentions to annex the city, or the Arabs opposition to it. Without taking care of the underlying causes of the divisions in Mosul, the city will remain one of the most violent areas in Iraq as attacks are dramatically decreasing in much of the rest of the country. It also puts into question the spate of government crackdowns this year. Basra, Sadr City, and Maysan province are involved in the Shiite struggle for power, and Maliki has been active there trying to sway people to his cause. In northern Iraq however, the struggle is between Sunnis and Kurds, and has gotten little attention after Operation Lion’s Roar. The Prime Minister is trying to portray himself as the nationalist leader of the country, but Mosul may point out that he is only really interested in being the Shiite leader of Iraq.

SOURCES

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- “13 killed, 29 wounded in Iraq violence until Sunday noon,” 4/27/08
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- “Blast in Mosul leaves vehicle ablaze,” 1/7/08
- “Car bomb attack leaves 10 casualties south of Mosul,” 1/21/08
- “Car bomb explosion leaves 12 casualties in Ninewa,” 4/9/08
- “Car bomb in Ninewa leaves no casualties,” 7/9/08
- “Car bomb injures 6 Iraqi soldiers in Mosul,” 7/9/08
- “Car bomb injures 6 persons in western Mosul,” 3/17/08
- “Car bomb kills woman, wounds 4 cops in Mosul,” 4/2/08
- “Charred body found in Mosul,” 6/6/08
- “Civil status dept. head gunned down in Ninewa,” 7/10/08
- “Civilian gunned down in Mosul,” 2/18/08
- “Civilian injured by car bomb in Mosul,” 3/3/08
- “Civilian killed, 2 cops injured, body found in Mosul,” 4/21/08
- “Civilian killed, 3 unknown bodies found in Mosul,” 1/8/08
- “Civilian killed, 5 wanted persons captured in Mosul,” 7/13/08
- “Civilian killed, hostage freed in Mosul,” 2/19/08
- “Civilian killed in armed attack in Mosul,” 7/10/08
- “Civilian killed in explosion in Mosul,” 2/12/08
- “Civilian killed, two corpses found in Mosul,” 3/31/08
- “Cop, civilian gunned down in 2 attacks in Mosul,” 1/17/08
- “Female government official gunned down in Mosul,” 7/28/08
- “Five civilians wounded by car bomb blast in Mosul,” 3/24/08
- “Former minister brother kidnapped in Ninewa,” 3/30/08
- “Gunmen kidnap 4 university students in Mosul,” 6/24/08
- “Gunmen kill 2 Iraqi soldiers in Mosul,” 7/23/08
- “Gunmen kill cop in Mosul,” 6/17/08
- “Gunmen kill morgue employee in Mosul,” 3/25/08
- “Gunmen kill municipality director in northern Mosul,” 6/25/08
- “Gunmen kill woman at her house in Mosul,” 3/28/08
- “Gunmen kill woman inside her home in Mosul,” 7/25/08
- “Gunmen kill, wound 2 fishermen near Mosul,” 4/24/08
- “Gunmen killed, two bodies found in Mosul,” 1/30/08
- “Gunmen set eight communication towers ablaze in Mosul,” 2/7/08
- “Gunmen shoot down Sunni mosque imam in Mosul,” 7/27/08
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- “IED leaves 4 casualties in Mosul,” 4/24/08
- “IED leaves 4 casualties in Mosul, 2/25/08
- “IED wounds 3 policeman in Ninewa,” 3/4/08
- “Iraq army detonates car bomb west of Mosul,” 3/24/08
- “Iraqi army forces kill gunman in Mosul,” 1/22/08
- “Iraqi soldier killed, 3 wanted men captured in Mosul,” 4/28/08
- “Kidnapped civilian found dead in Mosul,” 1/15/08
- “Life returns to normal in Mosul after 10-day curfew,” 5/20/08
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- “Man, daughter killed by U.S. army in Ninewa,” 4/16/08
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- “Mortar shell wounds 6 in Mosul,” 2/17/08
- “Mosul attack leaves 7 police casualty,” 1/3/08
- “Mosul blast casualties up to 43,” 3/18/08
- “Mosul car bomb attack leaves no casualties,” 7/15/08
- “Mosul car bomb wounds 5 civilians,” 1/16/08
- “One civilian wounded in Mosul,” 3/10/08
- “Police find 2 bodies in Ninewa,” 3/3/08
- “Police find prosecutor, lawyer bodies in Ninewa,” 2/29/08
- “Police forces discover three female bodies in Mosul,” 7/31/08
- “Police kill al-Qaeda gunman in Ninewa,” 2/5/08
- “Policeman killed in clashes with gunmen in Mosul,” 7/26/08
- “Roadside bomb kills man, son in Mosul,” 2/29/08
- “Second bombing wounds three persons in Mosul,” 6/26/08
- “Senior police officer killed in Mosul clashes,” 3/30/08
- “Senior police officer survives attempted assassination in Mosul,” 2/21/08
- “Southern Mosul blast wounds cop, civilian,” 1/22/08
- “Suicide attack wounds five policemen in Mosul,” 6/20/08
- “Suicide bomber killed in Mosul,” 3/4/08
- “Suicide bomber wounds 6 civilians in Mosul,” 7/16/08
- “Suicide truck bomb kills 2, injures 70 in Mosul,” 6/25/08
- “Three civilians wounded in western Mosul blast,” 7/20/08
- “Toll from Mosul bombing rises to 18,” 4/14/08
- “Turkish tanker driver killed by bomb blast in Mosul,” 7/10/08
- “Twin car bombing leaves 13 casualties,” 3/14/08
- “Two coordinated car bombs wound 9 individuals in Mosul,” 7/31/08
- “Two Iraqi soldiers wounded in 2 attacks in Mosul,” 7/9/08
- “Two roadside bombings leaves 2 wounded in Mosul,” 6/12/08
- “Two tank drivers wounded in Mosul armed attack,” 6/12/08
- “U.S. army discovers 4 bodies in Ninewa,” 6/10/08
- “U.S. chopper kills, injures 3 cops – source,” 1/21/08
- “U.S. forces kill 3 family members in Mosul,” 6/24/08
- “Unidentified gunmen kill two cops in eastern Mosul,” 2/28/08
- “Unknown body found in Mosul,” 3/24/08
- “Unknown gunmen kill a 12-year boy in Mosul-spokesman,” 2/1/08
- “Woman wounded in eastern Mosul blast,” 6/14/08

Weaver, Matthew, “Police chief killed by suicide bomber in Iraq,” Guardian, 1/24/08

Xinhua, “Car bomb hits police patrol in northern Iraq,” 1/14/08
- “Gunmen blow up 4 houses in N Iraq, child killed,” 6/16/08
- “Iraq soldiers foil suicide bomb attack in Mosul,” 4/29/08
- “Suicide car bomb injuring 14 in N Iraq,” 6/23/08
- “Three policemen killed in insurgents’ attack in Iraq,” 1/4/08
- “Twin bomb attack kills 8 in northern Iraq,” 6/28/08

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Mosul Campaign Day 221 May 25 2017

Battle damage in west Mosul’s Najar neighborhood (Baghdad Post) More pictures taken from Niqash reporter returni...