Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back To Mosul

On Wednesday August 17, 2008, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki admitted that the security operation in Mosul had failed to reach its goal of improving the situation in Ninewa. Maliki blamed the citizens for failing to secure their province. He said in other security crackdowns, the population had cooperated and helped the government forces round up militants, but this didn’t happen in Mosul. A member of the Interior Minister said that security forces would launch a new operation there soon.

On May 10, 2008, Maliki announced the beginning of Operation Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Rivers that was aimed at dislodging insurgents from their last major urban stronghold in Mosul. Maliki had been talking about clearing the city since December 2007, and early operations began in February 2008. Because of the crackdowns on the Sadrists that started in March, large numbers of Iraqi forces were not able to deploy to Mosul until May. The offensive was considered a success, but as reported earlier, it actually had little affect on the number of attacks and deaths in the city.

Here is a breakdown of attacks and incidents in Mosul before and after Operation’s Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Rivers:

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
August 2008:
  • 50 attacks/16 incidents – 1.61 attacks/day – 2.12 attacks & incidents/day
  • 55 killed 1.77 killed/day
  • 111 wounded 3.58 wounded/day
  • 5 kidnapped

The numbers show little change in the number of attacks or the amount of people killed or wounded before and after the offensive until August. That month, the number of attacks did drop by an average of one per day, and deaths were down by almost two a day, but the amount injured stayed the same. If you include incidents that involved violence, there was little drop off from July to August.

The major reason why the situation in Mosul has remained unstable is because the offensive did not address the underlying causes of the violence there. Unlike in Basra, Sadr City, and Maysan where the Sadrists were directly challenged on the military, political, economic, and social fronts, Operation Lion’s Roar/Mother of Two Rivers turned out to be solely a military affair that only nabbed, killed, or ran off insurgents. Maliki promised $100 million in reconstruction after the offensive, but little of that has shown up. The political situation remained untouched, with the city divided between Kurds and Arabs, with Kurds controlling the eastern half and the Arabs the west. The presence of the Kurds has allowed insurgent groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq to portray themselves as the protectors of the Arabs. The Kurds have not helped since they do have aspirations to annex the city to Kurdistan and control the Ninewa provincial council. Until those issues are addressed there will probably still be latent violence in the area, with the new offensive reducing attacks while it is in affect, with a likely rise afterwards as happened after May.

For more on Mosul see:

The Security Situation In Mosul


Ali, Fadhil, “Iraqi Government Launches Operation to Expel al-Qaeda from Mosul,” Terrorism Focus, Jamestown Foundation, 5/20/08

DPA, “Iraq’s Islamic Party leader assassinated in Mosul,” 8/7/08

Gamel, Kim, “UN unveils plans to step up efforts in Iraq,” Associated Press, 8/31/08

Hammoudi, Laith, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Wednesday 13 August 2008,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/13/08
- “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Wednesday 27 August 2008,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/27/08

Issa, Sahar, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq, Monday 11 August 2008,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/08
- “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq, Friday 22 August 2008,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/22/08

Kuwait News Agency, “Iraqi PM admits failure of Umm Al-Rubai in military operation,” 9/18/08

Levinson, Charles, “Mosul offensive illustrates U.S. challenges,” USA Today, 2/10/08

Monsters & Critics, “Policeman, soldier killed in two incidents in Iraq (Extra),” 8/14/08

Reuters, “Bombs hit northern Iraq, forces expect more,” 8/13/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 4,” 8/4/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 5,” 8/5/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 6,” 8/6/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 8,” 8/8/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 15,” 8/15/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 18,” 8/18/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 21,” 8/21/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 23,” 8/23/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 25,” 8/25/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 27,” 8/27/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 28,” 8/28/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 30,” 8/30/08
- “FACTBOX – Security developments in Iraq, Aug 31,” 8/31/08

Voices of Iraq, “2 civilians injured, gunmen kidnap 2 truck drivers in Mosul,” 8/12/08
- “2 gunmen killed in eastern Mosul clashes,” 8/3/08
- “2 unknown bodies found, arms seized in Mosul,” 8/2/08
- “2 wounded, body found in Mosul,” 8/12/08
- “3 Iraqi soldiers wounded in Mosul,” 8/8/08
- “3 Turks wounded in Mosul blast,” 8/30/08
- “4 wounded as car bomb explodes in Mosul,” 8/25/08
- “92 targets achieved during operations’ first day – Ninewa operations commander,” 5/10/08
- “Cart bomb kills 3 cops in Mosul,” 8/7/08
- “Civilian, child injured by gunmen in western Mosul,” 8/5/08
- “Gunmen wound policeman in central Mosul – NOC,” 8/26/08
- “IED targets U.S. patrol, U.S. army denies incident,” 8/18/08
- “Maliki allocates $100 million for Mosul projects,” 5/18/08
- “Mortar shell hits al-Iraqia, al-Mosuliya channels in Mosul,” 8/19/08
- “Mosul university president’s bodyguard killed,” 8/25/08
- “Policeman killed by gunmen fire in Mosul,” 8/25/08
- “Security member wounded in 2nd Mosul blast,” 8/18/08
- “Violence in Diala reduced, Mosul the coming target – MOI,” 8/17/08


AndrewSshi said...

I wonder if to some degree Mosul isn't going to basically be an "occupied city" for the foreseeable future. Anbar seems to be good, the amnesty program in Saladin seems to be working, and even the rank and file of the 1920's in Diyala don't seem to want to go back to turning the province into a war zone. A shot at elections might even mollify the Awakenings in Western Baghdad.

But it seems like Western Mosul is always going to be at least something of an occupied city, whether the occupier is the Peshmerga with the serial numbers scraped off, the mostly Shi'ah Arab parts of the Iraqi army, or the Ameriki.

Which brings me to a question--ISTR reading a few years ago that the Mosul police were all from one particular tribe. Do you know if that's still the case?

On a final note, I wonder what would have happened had Maliki agreed with the folks who offered to set up an Awakening in Mosul.

Joel Wing said...


According to this report:

Hamilton, Eric, “The Fight for Mosul,” Institute for the Study of War, 4/29/08


Mosul was at its best since the invasion during the period when Gen. Petraeus was there with the 101st Airborne. He set up a local government that represented the various groups in the city, he started reconstruction projects, created a new police force, brought in and protected some Baathists from the DeBaathification purge, and perhaps most importantly forced the Peshmerga out who had occupied parts of the city immediately after the U.S. invasion.

After the 101st rotated out, the next U.S. unit didn't have the manpower to secure the city and the Peshmerga moved right back in and have been in eastern Mosul ever since.

The Petraeus example seems to point to the possibility that if Baghdad had the power and will it could do something similar to secure the city. That was the point of my two pieces on Mosul, the political situation hasn't been dealt with, which is THE issue there.

That also relates to your SOI/Awakening question, because the Kurdish authorities that run the province see the SOI as a threat to their power. There are SOI outside of Mosul, but the Kurds haven't allowed them inside the city itself.

I haven't read anything about the Mosul police and tribes.

AndrewSshi said...

Two things--

I thought that it was Maliki who had turned down the offer to form SoI's in Mosul, but then, I could be mis-remembering.

And yeah, I don't know that the issue with the Kurds is ever going to be resolved. Rushing in Kurdish units to take things over in 2004 was the only real option, but still, it's been problematic. Even if it weren't for the Kurd issue, it seems that the Mosul Arabs haven't had the change of heart/absolute exhaustion that a lot of the rest of the country has seen.

All of which is to say, Mosul is still going to be "occupied" long after the rest of the country has made its peace. Or until massive Arab/Kurd fighting breaks out...

Joel Wing said...

Here's a report on the Kurds rejecting the formation of SOI in Mosul:

Alsumaria, “Awakening councils in Kurdistan at issue,” 1/14/08

Here's a report that said Baghdad told the province's SOI they couldn't operate within Mosul during the security operation there in May, so maybe that's what you were remembering.

Roggio, Bill, “Operation Loin’s Roar nets more than 1,000 suspects,” Long War Journal.org, 5/16/08

Here's one more:

Voices of Iraq, “Sahwa council chief confirms his fighters participation in Mosul offensive,” 5/17/08

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