Thursday, June 12, 2014

Clashes Between the Islamic State and the Baathist Naqshibandi As Both Try To Expand

 
As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) cuts a path across northern and central Iraq other insurgent groups are attempting to take advantage of the situation. There have been reports that the Baathist Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshibandi (JRTN) were active in the taking of Tikrit and are operating in Mosul as well. With the general collapse of the security forces in Mosul, northern and central Salahaddin and western Tikrit it is only natural that other armed groups would make their move to seize territory as well. This good time for the insurgency belies the internal contradictions within it, especially between JRTN and ISIS.  

Since the beginning of the year there have been several incidents of insurgent in fighting in Diyala and Salahaddin provinces. One recent example took place in Baiji, Salahaddin when ISIS demanded that local chapters of the JRTN pledge allegiance to it. When they refused the Islamic State executed eight Naqshibandi fighters on May 28. In retaliation, the Baathists ambushed and killed an ISIS leader and two of his aides in the Hamrin mountain region of Diyala on June 1. Afterward several Islamic State elements fled into neighboring Salahaddin to escape more attacks by the Naqshibandi. This story was relied by members of the security committee on the Diyala provincial council. The Naqshibandi immediately issued a statement denying any conflicts with ISIS, and accused the government of spreading these rumors to undermine the insurgency. These were just the latest incidents between these two groups. The press has reported on and off against clashes between them for the last two months in Diyala. The root of the problem is that the Islamic State demands that the rest of the insurgency acknowledge its leadership, while they want to maintain their independence. ISIS has followed a similar strategy in Syria and that has led to fighting with other groups as well. Its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq did the same from 2004-2007, and was notorious for attacking anyone or group that stood in its way.

It appears that JRTN is trying to negotiate a difficult relationship with the Islamic State. The two have been known to work together in the past, but they are increasingly coming into conflict likely over turf. The Baathists consistently deny these disputes but the blood spilt between them over the last several months tells a different story. It has to keep up a public face of cooperation because JRTN knows it will lose any fight with the much larger and well-armed Islamic State. Right now the Naqshibandi are trying to expand along with ISIS and that will likely lead to more disputes. As long as ISIS sees itself as the vanguard of the insurgency it will continue to demand allegiance from others, and that will cause more armed clashes in the future.

SOURCES

Buratha News, “Diyala Council reveals the existence of the terrorist al-Baghdad, and confirms the existence of problems between Daash and Naqshbandi,” 6/1/14
- “Naqshbandi executed terrorist organization leader in Daash and two of his aides in Diyala in response to executions in Salahuddin,” 6/1/14

Lewis, Jessica, Kagan, Kimber and Ali, Ahmed, “The ISIS Battle Plan,” Institute for the Study of War, 6/11/14

Al Masalah, “Organization “Naqshibandi” deny entry in an armed conflict with “Daash,”” 6/3/14

Al Rafidayn, “Diyala announce the deaths of more than two dozen in armed infighting going on between Daash and Naqshbandi,” 6/3/14

21 comments:

Political Science Blog said...

Joel,
Thanks for keeping a great blog! I like your analysis of the relationship between Da'ash & the JRTN. I don't see very much of this western media. But the Ba'athis aren't just in the JRTN -- they are in Da'ash as well.
http://www.albawabhnews.com/629409

Joel Wing said...

There are various people in ISIS including former Baathists. The Naqshibandi however is led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri Saddam's successor as head of the Baath Party.

Political Science Blog said...

Yes-- I heard he was in Mosul running things now... I wish there was more analysis on these ex-Ba'athis and Saddam Hussein loyalists and their positions within Da'ash. Also--their funding from the Saudis & Gulf countries... The media makes it seem like a bunch of insurgents in pickup trucks are taking over the country. Again, thanks for the best blog on Iraq.

Joel Wing said...

Many of the Iraqi insurgent groups get donations from wealthy individuals in the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. ISIS however seems to get most of its money from within Iraq. It was said they were getting up to $8 mil a month from its extortion rackets in Mosul.

Anonymous said...

led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri Saddam's successor as head of the Baath Party.

So we got Bin Laden No2 now?
Is it hard to hunt this F* sick old maniac>

Joel Wing said...

There are reports that Duri actually moved from Syria into Mosul after its fall.

bb said...

How about the Mahdi Army, Joel? Moqtada mobilising to save the shia from another mass slaughter at the hands of the Sunni Baath and jihadis? Or is he cutting and running?

Faisal Kadri said...

Joel,
I understand that both ISIL and JRTN are very small actors compared to the Majlis (Military Council), which includes more moderate, well trained all Iraqi ex-officers.
ISIL is just a flag of convenience adored by the media, they make a hot story.

Joel Wing said...

Hi bb. Glad to see you're still reading!

At first Sadr said that the would not support the government's failed policies meaning Maliki. Now he called for people to mobilize to protect Shiite shrines. That would mean Samarra not just Karbala and Najaf. Plus I'm sure he's getting pushed by Iran HARD to get his people out there to face ISIS.

Hakim was taking a similar stance but earlier today said that he would be sending his men to work with the Defense Min to fight the insurgency.

We're about to see a huge militia and Iranian mobilization in Iraq.

Joel Wing said...

Faisal there is one thing militant groups love to do around the world and that is brag. They love to post pictures and statements about all that they have done. It helps with its followers and to raise money. If you take the various insurgent groups in Iraq own statements of their activities they simply pale in comparison to what ISIS does. ISIS is the only group that can act nationally in Iraq. It is the only one that can launch sustained attacks into Baghdad. It is not just being used by the media for convenience. ISIS now stretches across large swaths of both Syria and Iraq and no other group can contest that depth and strength.

Joel Wing said...

Faisal forgot to add that the Military Councils that have been formed are organized by the Naqshibandi. And as this article points out JRTN has consistently cowed before ISIS showing that they do not have anything like the numbers to confront ISIS directly.

Faisal Kadri said...

Joel,
Bragging works both ways in the case of ISIL; it's good for selling media stories too.
As for Majlis, they are not in the pocket of Duri an do not necssarily obey although he and others support them. Majlis are not Baathi members, they are contacting foreign powers independently of JRTN. Their numbers exceed ISIL and JRTN combined by far.

Joel Wing said...

Faisal posts on operations are like bragging and each group wants to show that it is doing the most. Given that then why is the Military Council's bragging about their attacks so much smaller than ISIS?

Anonymous said...

Before Maliki and with Maliki the Shia militias have been working inside the police and the army. Al Badder and Al Mahdy before and now, and now Hezbollah brigades and League of the Righteous are topping most of the ranks of Iraqi special forces, intelligence and other security institutions. So this failure before ISIL should be blamed as well on these militias. Now is official Qassem Suleimani is commanding Iranian (and sure Iraqi) boots on the ground. So I can not see room for sectarian reconciliation when mostly Shiia radicals are in charge of the security mess ongoing.
By any chance the call for arms of Sistani imply coordination with the Sunnis and Kurdish to get rid of ISIL?

Joel Wing said...

Faisal suggest reading this new article on Mosul. ISIS worked with other factions to take city but then when over started giving orders to everyone.

http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3460

Joel Wing said...

Anon,

Maliki is not going to make any deals with the Kurds over security cooperation any time soon. The Peshmerga moved into the disputed areas that they have wanted for a while and have stopped there. They are not going to make any more advances. Maliki would have to make a political deal with the KRG to get them to do more and the premier is completely opposed to the concessions the Kurds would demand such as over oil exports and disputed areas.

Political Science Blog said...

I wasn't sure if my last comment came through, but I agree with Faisal, the ISIL is just a tactical arm of a bigger strategic movement --led by ex-Ba'ath party folks and tribal leaders. They are leaving the ISIL remnants behind, and putting local sheikhs in charge. Here is a link to a tribal page and another on facebook.

http://www.dhiqar.net/index.php

Here is another website you might like https://www.facebook.com/gmcir1?fref=tck

Joel Wing said...

Once again, who led the attack upon Mosul? Who just issued code of conduct for Mosul? Who is trying to organize services in Mosul? Who just took the Baiji refinery? Who carries out car bomb attacks? Who has reach cross the entire breadth of Iraq? That is only ISIS. Yes other insurgent groups are trying to take advantage of the situation, and yes they have increased their attacks and seized bases, etc. but to say that ISIS is not the largest, most well armed and capable group and leading the charge is wrong. It should also be noted that Sunni political rhetoric has developed where most of them will consistently deny ISIS because it is considered a foreign group even though it is overwhelmingly Iraqi. Hell, some even claim that ISIS is run by Iran and part of the Shiite conspiracy against Sunnis. This is where the basis for "its the tribes" not ISIS talk comes from. Again I refer to the statements by the insurgent groups themselves, the number of operations they run by their own accounts are a fraction of what ISIS does. If you don't believe me believe the Iraqi insurgency's own numbers.

Joel Wing said...

Article on ISIS administration of Mosul

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/the-isis-guide-to-building-an-islamic-state/372769/

Political Science Blog said...

Good point -- but, Ghanim al Abed (Hashem Jamas) was a high ranking general in the old regime under Saddam Hussien. You've also got Ahemd Abdul Rasheed in Tikrit - he was a the governor of Salah ah Din under Saddam. Abu Ayam al Iraqi (Abu Muhanned a Suedawyi) a COL in Saddam's Air Force is in Deir el Zour (Syria), and Abu Ahmed Al Wani (Walid Jassem El Alwani), a Col from Saddam's inner circile now a ranking member in the Majilis of Da'ash. I don't doubt the power if Da'ash itself -- just that I think there are some very sophisticated and professional people guiding the organization (in their Majilis). Perhaps not the return of the Ba'ath, but I don't buy the Islamic Caliphate either. The tribes will never go for it.

http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/140620142

Joel Wing said...

ISIS holds and administers large swaths of territory in Syria. The Iraqi forces simply broke in Mosul and the word spread through central Iraq leading to more forces to flee. I don't think ISIS had any plans to make such sweeping victories in so short a period of time. I don't see why with their experience it's so hard to believe that they are in the lead in this situation with other groups trying to take advantage of the situation as well.