Iraq: Diyala Province Rallies Against Al-Qaeda
Bill Roggio explains in a post today at the Fourth Rail that local Sheikh’s have been allying themselves against Al-Qaeda’s “Islamic State of Iraq” and have created the loosely termed “Diyala Salvation Front“. A similar development had previously occurred with the case of the “Anbar Salvation Council” who also formed an alliance to combat Al-Qaeda in that province.
It appears, and rightly so, that it will take a concentrated effort by Coalition forces to dislodge Al-Qaeda from Diyala province. It seems that the local Sheikhs have this same opinion and wish to have somewhat of a free hand in how they approach this problem militarily.
“Tribesman Sheikh Wameed al-Jabouri told al-Hayat that a number of tribes had signed a cooperation agreement to undertake this mission and to bring the city back to how ‘it used to be,'” notes DPA. “The agreement could be considered “a national charter” that proves their rejection of the actions of the terrorist groups, al-Jabouri said.”
The Diyala tribes have requested the U.S. military “not to interfere with their plans,” according to DPA. “The US forces committed fatal mistakes in handling the security situation in Baqubah,” said Sheikh Dari Fahd al-Assadi, the Deputy governor of Diyala. This resentment stems from the U.S. draw down of forces in Diyala last fall, and the handover of security to the Iraqi Police and Army. Mistakes by the Iraqi security forces were compounded by a concerted campaign by al Qaeda to destroy the security forces, particularly the police, and intimidate the local population.
Recent Coalition military activities in Baghdad have forced many Al-Qaeda fighters to flee into the surrounding provinces. Diyala province, being the declared capitol of Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq, is the destination for a considerable number of those fighters.
Diyala has become the main hub of al Qaeda’s operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq made Baqubah the capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq. Since the inception of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February, the security situation, which was deteriorating after U.S. forces pulled back last fall, has markedly worsened. Al Qaeda has prepared fighting positions, supply bases, IED traps, bomb rigged buildings, and training camps in the province.
It is exactly this sort of cooperation among local leaders and Coalition forces that will bring victory and peace to the Iraqi’s and Al-Qaeda is seeking to prevent it with the intimidation and murder of local leaders.