Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Operation New Hope In Mosul – Update

In mid-February 2009 Operation New Hope was announced, the third security crackdown in the city of Mosul carried out by Baghdad. Unlike the previous two, this one includes a large American contingent. By the beginning of May there were 5,000 U.S. troops and 36,000 Iraqi soldiers, National Police, and police taking part in New Hope. It has been dubbed the last major battle the Americans will be involved in before they withdraw. A month and half in however, and there has been little progress in reducing casualties in the area.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are trying to work closely in New Hope, but there are tensions. The U.S. commander in the city has allowed Iraqi officers into his command center. This is one of the few instances this has happened, as many American officers still do not trust divulging details about their operations to their Iraqi counterparts. In Mosul this is especially touchy as three times Iraqi soldiers or police have shot at American soldiers since November 2008. The last such incident occurred on February 24, 2009 when an Iraqi police officer shot and killed a U.S. soldier, an interpreter, and two Iraqi policemen. Three other American soldiers and another interpreter were wounded as well.

Following the Surge model from Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi forces are setting up small outposts throughout the city, and trying to supply essential services. U.S. soldiers are trying to work on water, sanitation, and trash pick up projects, as well as providing employment through these programs. Iraqi and U.S. soldiers have also been going door-to-door asking residents about their wants and needs. The U.S. has tried a similar strategy before in 2007 and 2008. The number of attacks actually increased from December 2007 to February 2008, but then took a steady decline. As noted before, the number of casualties reported in the press stayed about the same for most of 2008. It wasn’t until November of that year that casualties dipped below an average of 3 per day. The drop coincided with the second Iraqi led-operation in the city, Mother of Two Springs II aimed at protecting the city’s Christians after hundreds fled following attacks on their community, and the run-up to the January 2009 provincial elections. Since that month there have been an average of around 2 deaths per day and approximately 5 wounded. Operation New Hope has not changed those numbers.

Selected Casualty Numbers For Mosul Based Upon Press Reports

March 2009
86 attacks/incidents – 2.77 attacks & incidents/day
69 deaths – 2.22 deaths/day
169 wounded – 5.45 wounded/day

February 2009
81 attacks/incidents – 2.89 attacks & incidents/day
58 deaths – 2.0 deaths/day
111 wounded – 3.96 wounded/day

January 2009
52 attacks/incidents – 1.67 attacks & incidents/day
56 deaths – 1.80 killed/day
85 wounded – 2.74 wounded/day

December 2008
65 attacks/incidents – 2.09 attacks & incidents/day
68 deaths – 2.19 deaths/day
181 wounded – 5.83 wounded/day

November 2008
65 attacks/incidents – 2.16 attacks & incidents/day
53 deaths – 1.76 deaths/day
249 wounded – 8.3 wounded/day

October 2008
92 attacks/incidents – 2.96 attacks & incidents/day
112 deaths – 3.61 deaths/day
188 wounded – 6.06 wounded/day

Because of the lack of security in the city, Mosul has been designated as one area U.S. forces are unlikely to withdraw from after the June 30, 2009 deadline for American troops to be out of Iraqi cities. It took around one year and several operations for attacks to come down in the city. The police there are still undermanned and lack equipment. Unemployment is extremely high in certain areas, and services are poor due to the violence. More importantly, the city is a flashpoint between Kurds and Arabs, which is why the insurgency has been able to maintain a foothold there, playing on the fears Arabs have of Kurdish expansion. After that being said, there are fewer casualties in the city than before. It has been a long and difficult slog to achieve that however, and there is now a deadline for U.S. forces to be entirely out of the country. The question is whether they can keep up their operations during their drawdown long enough to allow for some kind of power sharing between Arabs and Kurds there. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s maneuvers against the Kurds in Mosul, and the election of the al-Hadbaa in Ninewa with their anti-Kurdish campaign do not point to this happening anytime soon.


Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq’s al-Maliki: US will stay in insecure areas,” Associated Press, 3/15/09

Arraf, Jane, “US general: American forces may not leave key Iraqi cities,” Christian Science Monitor, 3/27/09

Associated Press, “Iraq: Suicide bomber kills seven, wounds 17 in Mosul,” 3/31/09
- “Iraqis fear U.S. pullout of volatile Mosul,” 3/9/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “2 cops, civilian wounded in bomb blast in Mosul,” 3/11/09
- “2 policemen killed separately in Ninewa,” 3/12/09
- “2nd car bomb blast leaves 6 wounded in Mosul,” 3/5/09
- “3 civilians wounded in Mosul blast,” 3/2/09
- “3 servicemen killed, wounded by IED,” 3/30/09
- “3rd Mosul car bomb blast wounds woman, policeman,” 3/5/09
- “4 injured in Mosul blast,” 3/28/09
- “Body of Iraqi soldier found near Mosul,” 3/22/09
- “Body of retired officer found in central Mosul,” 3/21/09
- “Body of Yazidi civilian found in Mosul,” 3/25/09
- “Bomb explodes in central Mosul without casualties,” 3/4/09
- “Car bomb, IED defused in Mosul,” 3/25/09
- “Car bomb leaves 13 casualties in Mosul,” 3/11/09
- “Car bomb wounds 15 civilians in Mosul,” 3/29/09
- “Civilian gunned down in Mosul,” 3/3/09
- “Civilian killed, body found separately in Ninewa,” 3/26/09
- “Civilian wounded in hand-grenade blast,” 3/26/09
- “College student killed in clashes with gunmen in Mosul,” 3/26/09
- “Cop gunned down in central Mosul,” 3/24/09
- “Explosion wounds 4 policemen in northern Mosul,” 3/31/09
- “Gunmen kill policewoman in Mosul,” 3/14/09
- “Gunmen shoot government employee in Mosul,” 3/18/09
- “Gunmen wound 3 civilians in Mosul,” 3/9/09
- “IED kills soldier in Mosul,” 3/5/09
- “IED wounds Barazani’s KDP member,” 3/6/09
- “Mosul blast casualties up to 45,” 3/31/09
- “Retired officer gunned down in Mosul,” 3/7/09
- “Security forces set off bomb in Mosul,” 3/8/09
- “State employee gunned down in Mosul,” 3/29/09
- “Student gunned down in Mosul,” 3/8/09
- “U.S. base in Mosul rocketed,” 3/3/09
- “Unknown corpse found in Mosul,” 3/19/09
- “Urgent/Suicide car bomb explosion leaves 12 casualties in Ninewa,” 3/4/09
- “Wedding blast wounds 9 in Mosul,” 3/10/09
- “Woman killed in eastern Mosul,” 3/24/09
- “Young man gunned down in Mosul,” 3/4/09

Colvin, Marie, “Al-Qaeda is driven from Mosul bastion after bloody last stand,” Sunday Times of London, 7/6/08

Druzin, Heath, “Coalition forces fight in insurgent stronghold while residents urge U.S. troops to leave Mosul,” Stars and Stripes, 3/8/09
- “Iraqis taking the lead? Yes and no,” Stars and Stripes, 2/22/09
- “Mosul is still open for business,” Stars and Stripes, 3/8/09
- “Shooting of four U.S. troops highlights trust issues between two forces,” Stars and Stripes, 2/27/09

Gordon, Michael, “Pushed Out of Baghdad, Insurgents Move North,” New York Times, 12/6/07

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

Hammoudi, Laith, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Monday 23 March 2009,” 3/23/09
- “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Thursday 5 March 2009,” 3/5/09

Issa, Sahar, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Saturday 7 March 2009,” 2/7/09

Issa, Sahar and Kadhim, Hussein, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Monday 16 March 2009,” 3/16/09
Issa, Sahar and Kadhim, Hussein, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Thursday 26 March 2009,” 3/26/09
- Hussein, “Roundup of Daily Violence in Iraq – Tuesday 24 March 2009,” 3/24/09

Kadhim, Hussein, “Roundup of Daily Violence in Iraq-Monday 2 March 2009,” 3/2/09
- “Roundup of Daily Violence in Iraq-Monday 9 March 2009,” 3/9/09

Kukis, Mark, “Is Mosul on the Mend?” Time, 3/9/08

KUNA, “Two Iraqi women dead, eight policemen injured in separate incidents in Iraq,” 3/29/09

Monsters & Critics, “One Iraqi civilian killed, seven injured in Mosul blasts,” 3/25/09

Multi-National Force – Iraq, “Attack in Mosul kills U.S. Soldier,” 3/3/09

Paley, Amit, “Iraqis Joining Insurgency Less for Cause Than Cash,” Washington Post, 11/20/07

Reuters, “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 4,” 3/4/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 7,” 3/7/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 9,” 3/9/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 10,” 3/10/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 16,” 3/16/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 19,” 3/19/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 22,” 3/22/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 23,” 3/23/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 25,” 3/25/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 26,” 3/26/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 28,” 3/28/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 30,” 3/30/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 31,” 3/31/09

Roggio, Bill, “Walling Mosul,” Long War Journal.org, 3/11/08

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Officials: Bombs kill couple, policeman in Iraq,” Associated Press, 3/18/09

Xinhua, “Suicide car bombing kills policeman in N Iraq,” 3/18/09
- “Three Iraqis killed in attacks,” 3/25/09
- “Three people killed in northern Iraq,” 3/18/09

Yacoub, Sameer, “US, Iraqi forces launch anti-al-Qaida offensive,” Associated Press, 2/22/09


AndrewSshi said...

It seems to me that the trick in Mosul is to convince the rank and file of the Arabs that Maliki's Dawa government is on their side. If if if Maliki can do that, things in Mosul may still be problematic, but it'll be a different sort of problematic.

Do you think that you could do a write-up on the recent discontented rumblings amongst the Sahwa? I know that this sort of stuff happens from time to time, and that even Iraqi army and police units often wind up going for months at a time without pay, but some of the stuff seems a bit more problematic, coming as it does with the Bucca detainees getting back on the streets.

Joel Wing said...

I don't know if Maliki has that kind of pull with the city or provinces' Sunnis. They will likely turn to al-Hadbaa that is demanding the military to remove all the Peshmerga from the province. Maliki has actually been trying this but an Army patrol almost got into a shootout with some Kurds and the U.S. had to step in so those plans might be on hold. Whatever happens I would think Hadbaa would be able to spint it to their advantage more than Maliki who also wants credit.

As for the SOI, I don't really have much more on it than what's been in the papers. I know some commentators like Tom Ricks at his blog at Foreign Policy and Brian Katulis at Cen. Amer. Prog. have been saying that this is the beginning of the Surge status quo falling apart. I don't buy it. 2 days of fighting aren't much. Some SOI leaders were concerned, but others were not. Basically it comes down to their futures, and the government is the only one offering them pay and the hope of a job so they will put up with Maliki's carrot and stick approach, which I think the arrests were part of.

AndrewSshi said...

Fair enough on the SoI.

My big worry on Mosul is that there's not only the Kurd/Arab divide, but also the divide between the Shi'ite Arabs in Baghdad and the Sunni Arabs in Mosul. If enough folks side with Hadbaa and work within the system, then things might actually get less awful. At the moment, though, Hadbaa doesn't have much armed clout, whereas the Anbar Awakening folks do, and the IIP has managed in Diyala to rather cannily wind up running a lot of the Sahwa program there. I think that Hadbaa needs some sort of equivalent to begin making headway.

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