Thursday, January 9, 2014

Security In Iraq's Anbar Province December 2013

Anbar is now in open rebellion against the Iraqi government. By December 2013 the signs were there that the province was about to explode. During the first two-thirds of the month there was a concerted effort to kill and intimidate local sheikhs. In the last part security incidents took off, and switched to targeting the security forces. That was topped off by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIS) ambush of the leadership of the 7th Division that led to the death of its commander and two brigade leaders. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki then ordered a major offensive in the desert and border regions of Anbar, which was met by an upsurge in operations by the ISIS. Then the premier made a grave mistake by arresting Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani who was a leader in the protest movement, and then had the Ramadi sit-in square closed down. That brought out tribes and the insurgency, and led to the current crisis.

Anbar Saw An Escalation of Attacks From The Beginning To The End of Dec. 2013
# of Attacks
Jan. 1-10
Jan. 11-20
Jan. 21-31

During the beginning of December violence in Anbar was characterized by a number of small-scale attacks with special emphasis upon eliminating local sheikhs. From January 1 to 10 there were 30 reported attacks in the press. Those included the assassination of protest leader Sheikh Khalid Hamoud al-Juamili in Fallujah on December 1. December 7, there was a mortar attack upon Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes’ home in Ramadi, while his nephew and son of Sheikh Mohammed al-Hayes was gunned down in that same city the same day. The Hayes brothers accused the demonstrators of being behind the death, and gave the sit-in site 48 hours to turn over the murders or their men were going to storm the encampment. The Hayes brothers were opponents of the activists and accused them of being aligned with the Islamic State. The provincial council had to intervene, but both Hayes’ continued their verbal attacks upon the protesters for weeks afterward. December 9 Sheikh Karim Issawi was hit by a sticky bomb northeast of Ramadi. December 10 Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes’ house was hit by mortar fire in Jazeera. That might have been retaliation for Hayes’ threats against the sit-ins. Over the next ten days there were 38 recorded attacks. December 12 Sheikh Salah al-Dulaimi was shot and killed north of Ramadi. December 13 Sheikh Hamid al-Shorka had his house in Jazeera hit by two bombs. December 15 the spiritual leader of the main protest group Sheikh Abdul Malik al-Saadi had his residence in Ramadi shot at. December 19 Sheikh Mohammed al-Hayes’ house in Ramadi was bombed. December 20 three mortar shells fell on Sheikh Khamis Abdul Karim al-Fahadawi’s house in Ramadi. The rest of the attacks during those first twenty days mostly consisted of other small scale operations against the security forces usually through roadside bombs on patrols or drive-by shootings on checkpoints. From January 1 to 20 there were 44 deaths consisting of 21 police, 8 soldiers, and 15 civilians, while 79 were wounded made up of 41 police, 25 soldiers, and 13 civilians. Of the 123 casualties during that period 77% were from the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). That was in line with most of the year when eight of twelve months the ISF made up half or more of the deaths, and nine months they were half or more of the wounded. The Islamic State and the insurgency have been trying to make a comeback in Anbar since the beginning of the year. One strategy they’ve followed is attacking the security forces to intimidate and scare them so that militants can have free reign in the governorate. Sheikhs have been hit before, but not with the frequency they were in the first two-thirds of December. Sheikhs are another pillar of Anbar society where tribes play a prominent role. Attacking them is another means to assert control.

Insurgents singled out the military for attacks in the last part of December. On December 15 the ISF started a new operation in northern Anbar led by the 7th Division. Seven days into the campaign and the 7th Division received news that an Islamic State camp had been discovered along the Ninewa border. That turned out to be a trap that included hidden explosives and suicide bombers that killed not only the commander of the 7th Division General Mohammed Karawi, but his aide, and the leaders of the 27th and 29th Brigades, basically the leadership of the unit. 20 other soldiers were killed, and another 32 wounded. That same day the Al-Asad Air Force Base was assaulted by gunmen. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a major offensive in the province in response, but the militants were ready. From December 21 to 31 there were 59 attacks. Most of those were in the major cities in the center of the province against the ISF, while the army was running around the border. For example on December 23 the Anbar Operations Command outside of Ramadi was hit by mortars, (1) and an army base in Zaidan was hit by rockets killing two soldiers, and wounding another seven. December 24 acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaimi had his convoy hit by a roadside bomb, while one army camp was hit by mortars, and another by rockets. December 25 a SWAT commander was hit by three roadside bombs. December 26 two suicide bombers attacked the 1st Rapid Reaction Brigade headquarters in Garmah, and the Anbar Operations Command was again mortared. December 27 the commander of the Rapid Reaction Force for the governorate ran into a roadside bomb. December 27 an army base east of Ramadi was hit by mortars, and another was hit on December 30 east of Fallujah. Finally on December 31 an army base outside of Ramadi had rockets launched at it, while a military camp in Baghdadi was shot at. In just those last ten days there were a total of 59 security incidents resulting in 61 deaths made up of 32 soldiers, 10 police and 19 civilians, and 152 wounded, which consisted of 59 soldiers, 24 police, and 69 civilians. Baghdad has spent most of its resources sending the security forces into the deserts and border regions of Anbar chasing after insurgents with little to show for it. None of the operations have been able to stem the increasing violence in the province. More importantly the vast majority of the population and attacks are in the major cities like Fallujah and Ramadi. If the ISF were still practicing counterinsurgency tactics they would have been deployed in the urban areas to protect the people. Instead the military was being used in pointless raids that lasted for a few days, and then ended, which allowed militants to move right back in after they were done. In December the Islamic State took advantage of these operations by setting a trap for the 7th Division, and not only eliminated its leadership, but increased its attacks upon the ISF afterward.

Comparison Of Violence In Anbar During Dec. 2013
Jan. 1-20

In comparison to the rest of the year December was one of the most violent. There were a total of 127 incidents, the most for 2013. It was only the second time there were over 100 reported attacks with October at 102 being the other. Unlike the previous months Ramadi saw the most violence with 43 attacks compared to the rest of the year when Fallujah was the main target. There were 61 bombings in December, the second most since November’s 64. In total, 106 people died for the month, the third highest for the year, and 231 wounded, which was by far the most with October’s 131 being the closest. Again the ISF were the main victims with 71 killed and 149 wounded.

Violence In Anbar Jan.-Feb. 2013

ISF Killed
Civilians Killed
ISF Wounded
Civilians Wounded

December showed that the insurgents were ready to take their attacks to another level in Anbar. For the beginning of the month the sheikhs and the ISF were the main targets. Then in the last ten days of the month the Islamic State launched a sneak attack upon the army, and went on the offensive even before Prime Minister Maliki announced a counter attack. Even then the militants were focused upon the cities while the army was running around the border again. Maliki’s decision to take on the protest movement instead of staying focused upon the insurgency has now led Anbar into open rebellion and revived the non-Islamic State groups, and brought tribes into the fight against the central government as well. The province has once again became a center of fighting, which is exactly what insurgents had been building towards since the beginning of the year. Things could go either way now, because operating out in the open allows militants to be more easily targeted, and the Islamic State has a history of overreaching by trying to impose its extreme views, refusing to work with others, and executing its opponents. The government’s lack of strategic thinking could backfire even more as a frontal assault upon Fallujah or another urban center could lead to a bloodbath, and enraging even more people against Baghdad. What happens in the next few weeks could determine not only the future of Anbar, but the entire country.


1. Al Rayy, "Bombing of the headquarters operations of Anbar, five mortar shells without knowing the losses," 12/23/13


Agence France Presse, "Iraq violence kills 37 as 'terrorism' suspects escape," 12/13/13

AIN, "2 IEDs exploded in Anbar," 12/17/13
- "AED explodes in western Anbar," 12/20/13
- "Armed attack against police station defused in Anbar," 12/8/13
- "Armed clashes erupt in Fallujah," 12/22/13
- "Barber killed in Fallujah," 12/23/13
- "Bomb explodes near sit-ins yard in Ramadi," 12/13/13
- "Officer, 2 IPs killed in Fallujah," 12/28/13
- "Police officer assassinated in Fallujah," 12/17/13
- "Professor survives assassination in Anbar," 12/19/13
- "Tribal armed elements kill gunmen after assassinating citizen in Ramadi," 12/12/13
- "Urgent…Dead body of kidnapped son of Rutba Local Council Head found," 12/14/13
- "Urgent…Gunmen detonate Hayis's house in northern Ramadi," 12/19/13
- "Urgent…Head of Rutba Local Council resigns," 12/11/13
- "Urgent…IP killed while discovering car bomb with explosives detector," 12/18/13
- "Urgent…Leader within new sahwa survives assassination in Ramadi," 12/18/13
- "Urgent…Son of Rutba Local Council Chairman kidnapped in Anbar," 12/9/13

BBC, "Bomb attack kills officers in Iraq's Anbar province," 12/21/13

Buratha News, "7 Soldiers Injured in fall of three missiles east of Fallujah," 12/24/13
- "Blast motorcycle bomb on military forces in the northwest of Anbar," 12/26/13
- "Blast toll rises in bombing western Anbar 24 martyrs, including the commander of the seventh division and a number of officers," 12/21/13
- "Bombing of the headquarters of Anbar Operations, five mortar shells without knowing the losses," 12/26/13

Al Forat, "3 IEDs explodes in Anbar province," 12/13/13
- "Clashes erupted in western Anbar," 12/22/13
- "Dead body found in Ramadi sit-in square," 12/28/13
- "IP injured western Anbar," 12/26/13

Al-Mada, "The bombing of a bridge north east of Ramadi Babutin explosive devices without human damage," 12/8/13
- "Director of Police Center killed and three others of his bodyguard wounded, explosion south of Fallujah," 12/28/13
- "Found the body of a civilian who was shot dead west of Ramadi," 12/21/13
- "Killed the nephew of Hayes and a civilian injured in armed attack central Ramadi," 12/7/13
- "Killing and wounding four civilians, bombing targeted a police patrol south of Fallujah," 12/26/13
- "The killing of a member of the local council in Rawa western Anbar in armed attack in front of his home," 12/21/13
- "Killing one civilian and wounding two policemen armed attack in the center of Fallujah," 12/19/13

National Iraqi News Agency, "2 Policemen wounded east of Falluja," 12/11/13
- "2 Policemen wounded northern Ramadi," 12/9/13
- "3 Gunmen killed, police officer wounded in Ramadi," 12/12/13
- "3 Policemen wounded in Falluja," 12/22/13
- "3 Soldiers killed, wounded in western Anbar," 12/10/13
- "7 members of security forces killed and wounded in Fallujah," 12/16/13
- "13 Civilians killed, wounded in Ramadi's clashes," 12/30/13
- "48 Persons killed, wounded in Falluja," 12/30/13
- "An armed attack on the home of Sheikh Abdul-Malik al-Saadi," 12/15/13
- "Armed clashes resumed in Ramadi," 12/31/13
- "Armed clashes erupt again in east of Fallujah," 12/31/13
- "Armed group kill a police captain in Ramadi," 12/25/13
- "An Army HQ subjected to Katyusha rocket attacks north of Ramadi," 12/31/13
- "Army troops kill a suicide bomber, eastern Anbar," 12/16/13
- "Attack on Ramadi Court foiled," 12/18/13
- "Bodies of 2 policemen found in western Anbar," 12/15/13
- "BREAKING NEWS Car bomb explodes against military patrol east of Falluja," 12/29/13
- "BREAKING NEWS Commander of Rapid Reaction Brigade escapes assassination attempt in Ramadi," 12/27/13
- "BREAKING NEWS. Five militants killed and four soldiers wounded, west of Anbar," 12/25/13
- "BREAKING NEWS Gunmen try to storm Karmeh police station," 12/9/13
- "BREAKING NEWS IED against Defence Minister's convoy west of Falluja, 2 guardsmen wounded," 12/24/13
- "BREAKING NEWS. The headquarters of Army Eighth Brigade under mortar attack east of Ramadi," 12/28/13
- "Civilian killed, 2 policemen, civilian wounded in Fallujah," 12/20/13
- "Civilian killed, 2 wounded southeast Fallujah," 12/19/13
- "A civilian killed another one wounded in Ramadi," 12/11/13
- "Civilian killed, another wounded east of Falluja," 12/27/13
- "Civilian killed, another wounded in Anbar province," 12/1/13
- "Civilian killed, another wounded in western Anbar," 12/3/13
- "Civilian killed in western Anbar," 12/18/13
- "Commander of Swat forces survives from an explosion northeast of Ramadi," 12/25/13
- "Gunman killed, another wounded, 3 soldiers wounded in western Anbar," 12/21/13
- "Gunmen attack a checkpoint in Fallujah wound three police," 12/18/13
- "A journalist killed in Ramadi clashes," 12/31/13
- "Killing and injuring three members of the military far western Anbar," 12/2/13
- "Killing and wounding of seven policemen' northeast of Ramadi," 12/4/13
- "Killing and wounding six soldiers, in Fallujah," 12/24/13
- "A mortar attack on the headquarters of the army east of Fallujah," 12/30/13
- "One civilian killed, two others wounded, in Ramadi," 12/31/13
- "One Sahwa element killed in Ramadi," 12/11/13
- "A police associate director injured western Anbar," 12/6/13
- "Police kill two gunmen in Ramadi," 12/12/13
- "Police officer, a policeman injured in an armed attack in Fallujah," 12/22/13
- "A police officer killed and a policeman injured ,east of Ramadi," 12/13/13
- "A police officer killed and two policemen injured, west of Ramadi," 12/10/13
- "Police officer killed in Ramadi," 12/24/13
- "Police officer killed, three of his bodyguards wounded in Fallujah," 12/28/13
- "A policeman killed and another wounded, south of Fallujah," 12/16/13
- "A policeman killed another wounded , in Fallujah," 12/4/13
- "Policeman killed, another wounded in Fallujah," 12/7/13
- "Policeman killed, another wounded in Ramadi," 12/14/13
- "Security source: Armed groups overrun military compound in Hadeetha," 12/31/13
- "Seven soldiers wounded in a mortar attack, east of Fallujah," 12/24/13
- "Sheik's Diwan in Ramadi intended in mortar attack," 12/20/13
- "Sniper kills a policeman in Ramadi," 12/7/13
- "Soldier killed, 2 wounded in western Anbar," 12/4/13
- "A soldier killed and two others wounded east of Haditha in Anbar," 12/9/13
- "A soldier killed and two others wounded, northeast of Anbar," 12/17/13
- "Soldier killed, another wounded, 2 gunmen killed in western Anbar," 12/22/13
- "Soldier killed, four wounded in Anbar province," 12/4/13
- "Source: Rapid Reaction Brigade engages in battle with gunmen around Falluja," 12/31/13
- "Suicide attack to storm military brigade headquarters in Anbar failed," 12/26/13
- "A suicide bomber killed in Anbar," 12/30/13
- "Three soldiers and a policeman injured in Ramadi clashes," 12/31/13
- "Toll of victims of a suicide bombing in Ramadi up to 13 dead and wounded," 12/13/13
- "Two civilians injured by sniper fire east of Fallujah," 12/31/13
- "Two civilians killed in Ramadi," 12/4/13
- "Two civilians wounded southeast of Fallujah," 12/7/13
- "Two gunmen killed in a clash with security force in Ramadi," 12/19/13
- "Two mortar shells target home of president of Anbar Salvation council," 12/7/13
- "Two policemen killed in two incidents separate Fallujah," 12/21/13
- "Two policemen wounded,east of Fallujah," 12/26/13
- "Two soldiers killed, an officer injured in Fallujah," 12/23/13
- "Urgent…A father of the minister of industry kidnapped in Anbar," 12/1/13
- "Urgent…A regiment commander and four soldiers injured west of Anbar province," 12/26/13
- "Urgent…Hayes' house suffers mortar shells attack," 12/10/13
- "Urgent…Two Army Brigades' leaders, among the victims of Anbar bombing," 12/21/13

Radio Nawa, "A car bomb explosion and clashes lead to the imposition of curfew in the district of Haditha Anbar," 12/20/13
- "Gunmen attack Contracting Company and its mechanisms east of Fallujah," 12/14/13
- "Tried to kill three suicide bombers targeted a tribal leader's house in Haditha," 12/20/13
- "Wounding two policemen armed attack northeast of Ramadi," 12/9/13

Al Rayy, "Armed clashes between police and gunmen after the attack on the center to update the voters' register Ramadi," 12/7/13
- "Bombing of the headquarters operations of Anbar, five mortar shells without knowing the losses," 12/23/13
- "The death of three soldiers blew up booby-trapped house during a raid in Anbar," 12/21/13
- "Injury to civilians in fall of Katyusha rockets on central Ramadi," 12/24/13
- "A policeman and wounding three civilians, an explosion of two bombs in southern Fallujah," 12/23/13
- "Two blasts near a mosque west of Anbar," 12/23/13
- "Two rockets fall on civilian homes south east of Ramadi," 12/28/13
- "Two soldiers and a policeman were injured by a roadside bomb south of Fallujah," 12/5/13

Salaheddin, Sinan, "7 Killed As Iraqi Troops Arrest Sunni Lawmaker," Associated Press, 12/28/13
- "Attacks across Iraq kill at least 26 people," Associated Press, 12/23/13
- "Officials: Attacks across Iraq kill at least 11," 12/18/13

Shafaq News, "Anbar Salvation council holds "leaders" responsibility al-Jumaili's death," 12/1/13


Anonymous said...

One of the things Taliban & Co have done in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been to assassinate tribal and local leaders, both to knock off those opposed to it but maybe more importantly to reshape the social structure of the local people. Do you think the killing of the sheiks in Iraq now goes beyond just knocking off their enemies but to restructure the tribal system altogether?

Joel Wing said...

It's hard to tell the purpose behind the attacks because you can't figure out who's conducting them. If it were the Islamic State it would definitely be to eliminate those sheikhs who oppose it so that it can intimidate and control the rest. The Islamic State's previous tactic was to co-opt the tribes. However some attacks appear to be retaliatory tit for tat attacks between local groups in Anbar.

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