Thursday, March 20, 2014

Iraq’s Anbar Council Claims Stability Returned To Ramadi

Fighting continues every day in Iraq’s western Anbar province. Recently however, the Anbar provincial council has claimed that the city of Ramadi has become a bastion of stability in an otherwise unstable governorate. Its talked about the end of military operations in the city, the return of displaced families and everyday life, and called on Baghdad to send funds to help the refugees and compensate those that have suffered losses. Those statements are contradicted by the fact that Ramadi has seen the most violence in the governorate over the last several weeks.

Beginning at the very end of February the Anbar council started talking about the return of security to Ramadi. On February 28 there was the first press report that refugees were returning to the city. The next day the head of the council Sabah Kahout al-Halbusi was quoted as saying that the local government was going to assess the losses people suffered in Ramadi so that they could be compensated. By March 9 the deputy head of council Faleh Issawi claimed that military operations were over in the city. He went on to say that meant schools and markets were starting to re-open, and that services like electricity needed to be repaired. Oddly enough he also admitted that insurgents were still in the southern portion of the city. By the middle of March however, the Anbar council stated that the entire city had been cleared of militants. Governor Ahmed Dulaimi Diab told the media that the council was working with the army to open up the entrances to Ramadi so that more people could get back to their homes. He was feeling so confident that he even talked about the city being was safe enough to hold elections there on time in April. This has now become the official line from the Anbar council: the province still has pockets of resistance, but Ramadi is not one of them. The local politicians have increased their rhetoric over the preceding weeks about just how safe the city is. They’ve gone from just talking about families returning to claiming that the entire city is secured. Perhaps because Ramadi is the provincial capital of Anbar the council wants to believe that it’s own base of operations of safe, but that is not the case.

Citizens and security forces celebrate after clearing Malab and 60th Street on March 17, 2014. Two days later fighting would return to those two areas.
(Iraqi News)

There are ample examples of how fighting is continuing in Ramadi in contradiction to the council’s statements. On February 28 the day that the Anbar politicians began talking about improvements in the city there were reports of fighting in three sections of Ramadi including 60th Street, a major area of the city that has been contested between insurgents and the security forces for weeks now. That same day government artillery fire left two people wounded. March 1 there was gunfire in the eastern section of the city. March 3 there were clashes with insurgents in three parts of Ramadi including 60th Street again. March 4 three parts of Ramadi were again contested with 60th Street involved once more. These shoot outs continued into March 5, which included a suicide bombing on a checkpoint, into March 6 where the fighting seemed to move down from 60th Street to 20th, and also included Malab another district that had long ben fought over. March 8 a suicide bomber hit another checkpoint killing 12 soldiers and wounding another 15, a car bomb was launched on a bridge that left 3 police dead and four wounded. March 9 clashes resumed on 20th Street. March 10 there was a car bomb on an Awakening patrol, and more shooting in Malab. March 11 Malab was at the center of the conflict again along with two others areas. March 13 there was conflict in the eastern section of Ramadi, along with government artillery that left 5 fatalities and 9 injuries. March 14 turned out to be the worst day in weeks with fighting in seven different sections of the city including 20th Street and Malab. Army artillery claimed another two lives and wounded four more. March 15 and 16 the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and insurgents battled in Malab and the south. March 17 a suicide bomber struck a patrol killing one soldier and wounding five, and then an ambush of an army patrol the next day in the central section of Ramadi that caused the death of four soldiers. March 19 fighting returned to Malab and 60th Street. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has also been posting pictures of its operations in the city. One of the group’s leading military commanders Abu Waheeb for example, has constantly been photographed in Ramadi. With fighting, bombings, and artillery and mortar fire reported nearly everyday in Ramadi it’s hard to see how it could be secured. The fact that 60th Street and the Malab area have been fought over since nearly the first day of the conflict belies the claims made by the Anbar council that everything is fine. Parts of the city might be safe enough to have some families come back, but it definitely isn’t secure enough to hold elections there as the Governor claimed.

ISIS photos posted on the internet of its operations in Ramadi and its commander Abu Waheeb

The Anbar government has been talking about Ramadi being stable more and more over the past few weeks, but this is a ruse. Its claims have gone from just refugee returns to saying that there are no more military operations to stating that the whole area is now under control. The Iraqi press has another view of the city where it reports nearly daily acts of violence. Parts of Ramadi might very well be under control. Most areas of the city for example, do not appear in the news. However there are enough security incidents to show that the city is still contested and there are large contingents of insurgents present, including elements of ISIS. The Anbar council may be looking for victories since it has lost control of its governorate. It has made plenty of statements before that the province has become safer and that the militants are losing out yet the fighting continues. That hasn’t stopped the local politicians from continuing to say that Anbar is making progress, because to say otherwise would be to admit to defeat.


AIN, "3 Terrorists of ISIS killed, wounded eastern Ramadi," 3/1/14
- “Dozens of displaced families return to Ramadi,” 2/28/14
- "Gunmen kill some IPs central Anbar," 3/15/14
 - "Policeman killed western Ramadi," 3/5/14
- "Security forces clash with ISIL elements in Ramadi," 3/14/14

Buratha News, "/3/ armed soldiers clash in eastern Ramadi," 3/13/14
- "Death and injury of seven members of the Awakening in armed attack south of Ramadi," 3/15/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding six children by fall of a mortar shell on the playground on a popular football center of Ramadi," 3/14/14
- "Renewed armed clashes in several areas in Ramadi after they were cleared," 3/4/14

Al Forat, "Sahwa leader's convoy targeted central Ramadi," 3/10/14

Iraq Times, "dead and wounded by a car bomb at a gathering of 27 army south of Ramadi," 3/8/14

Al Mada, “Council Anbar accuses the army of derailing the peace initiatives due to continued shelling of residential neighborhoods,” 3/9/14
- "Killed and wounded 14 civilians by random bombardment of the army on Ramadi," 3/13/14
- "Killing and wounding four soldiers in an armed attack south of Ramadi," 3/14/14

Al Masalah, “Anbar Governor: our arrangements to open the entrances and exits of Ramadi,” 3/16/14

Mustafa, Hamza, “Iraq: Anbar government says Ramadi now secure,” Asharq Al-Awsat,” 3/17/14

National Iraqi News Agency, "4 Soldiers Killed in an Ambush in Central Ramadi," 3/18/14
- “Anbar governor says that the security forces captures most of Ramadi neighborhoods,” 3/14/14
- "Armed Clashes Renewed in Ramadi, with the Participation of Army Aviation," 3/3/14
- "Armed clashes resumed between army and armed elements in Ramadi," 3/14/14
- "Armed clashes resumed between military forces and insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah," 3/11/14
- "Armed clashes resumed in central and eastern areas of Ramadi," 3/6/14
- "Armed clashes resumed in Central and Eastern of Ramadi," 3/10/14
- "Armed clashes resume in Ramadi," 3/15/14
- "BREAKING NEWS . 10, members of army killed and wounded in central Ramadi," 3/8/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. Six members of security forces killed and wounded in center of Ramadi," 3/5/14
- "Car bomb kills three policemen, injures four others," 3/8/14
- "A Civilian Killed, Three Members of One Family wounded by Artillery Bombing to the City of Ramadi," 3/14/14
- "Clashes in parts of eastern and central Ramadi," 2/28/14
- "Clashes renewed in the street 60, al-Malaab and express way in Ramadi between the army and militants," 3/19/14
- "Clashes resume in Ramadi and Fallujah," 3/16/14
- “Dozens of Families Returned to the City of Ramadi,” 3/1/14
- "Four snipers killed in central Ramadi," 3/4/14
- "Four soldiers injured in clashes amid Ramadi," 3/9/14
- "Four Soldiers Killed in an Armed Attack West of Ramadi," 3/8/14
- "Killing 15 Gunmen in Clashes in Ramadi and Wounding Two People by Shelling," 2/28/14

Al Rayy ,"The death of one soldier and wounding five others in a suicide bombing that targeted a gathering of the army in central Ramadi," 3/17/14


Memlik Pasha said...

It seems the situation in Ar Ramadi hasn't quite escalated to the point it was in the spring of 2006, when the US Marines and ISF were restricted to their FOBs and a few main bases, and the insurgency practically held the city, but it certainly seems to be heading that way. Would be interesting to compare the extent of insurgent operations and control in Ramadi now with spring/summer 2006.

Joel Wing said...

Only parts of Ramadi appear to remain unstable. Most of the fighting looks like it's in the south. Fallujah is the city that is completely under insurgent control.