6 years, 10 months ago
The U.S. strategy in the Anbar province (and in Baghdad and Northern Iraq since Petraeus took over OIF) has relied on force projection as the pretext to successful implementation of concerned citizens, armed neighborhood watches and ad hoc police to provide local security. Contrary to the U.S. model, the British failure in the South continues to haunt the efforts at stabilizing Iraq. Iranian-backed militia still conduct operations not just in the South but in and around Baghdad.
Four members of an Iranian-backed Shiite cell confessed to bombing a public market in central Baghdad, a U.S. spokesman said Saturday. He also blamed Shiites for recent attacks on U.S. bases, raising fears that a three-month truce by the most feared Shiite militia may be at an end.
The blast Friday in the al-Ghazl pet market killed at least 15 people, wounded 56 and shattered a growing sense of public confidence that has emerged following a sharp decline in the bombings and shootings that once rattled the Iraqi capital daily.
During overnight raids, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers arrested four members of an unidentified Shiite “special groups cell,” who confessed to the bombing, U.S. spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith told reporters.
“Based on subsequent confessions, forensics and other intelligence, the bombing was the work of an Iranian-backed special groups cell operating here in Baghdad,” Smith said, adding that he was not accusing Iran itself of ordering the blast.
The market is located in a Shiite area and has been targeted before by Sunni extremists. But Smith said the attackers wanted people to believe that the bomb, packed with ball-bearings to maximize casualties, was the work of al-Qaida in Iraq so that residents would turn to Shiite militias for protection.
He also said Shiite “special groups” were believed responsible for a series of rocket and mortar attacks against American bases in eastern Baghdad on Nov. 18.
Even Shi’ite leaders know the destabilizing role that Iranian forces (Quds) and Iran-backed miltia plays in Iraq, and propose complete eviction of these militias as the only solution to Iraq’s problems.
The leader of a prominent group representing tribes in southern Iraq is calling for “the eviction of the Iranian regime from our homeland.”
Sheik Jasim al-Kadhim, president of the Association of Nationalist and Independent Iraqi Tribes from the south, condemned what he called Iran’s meddling in Iraq by those affiliated with Quds Force, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The United States accuses the Quds Force of aiding Shiite militias in Iraq and has designated it as a terrorist group.
Al-Kadhim, speaking by phone Friday, said evicting the Iranian regime — in particular from the southern Iraqi provinces — is “the only solution and hopeful prospect for Iraq.”
Al-Kadhim’s comments represent another kink in the relationship between the two nations, who share the Shiite faith and whose friendliness toward each other has raised U.S. concerns.
Additionally, 300,000-plus Iraqi Shiites signed a petition calling for an end to what they call “Iranian terrorist interferences” and demanding the United Nations investigate the Islamic republic’s involvement in Iraq.
It was a fool’s errand to trust Sadr as the British did, and equally a fool’s errand to force the 3/2 Marines to release Sadr in 2004 as Paul Bremer did at the behest of the British. The Badr corps is so deeply embedded into the government of Iraq that it will be difficult to excise them regardless of whether the will is mustered to do so. But these things are necessary for the peace and stability of Iraq.