Iraqi forces are conducting several different security offensives currently. The largest is the joint U.S.-Iraqi Operation New Hope in Mosul. There are also more police-oriented campaigns going on in Basra and Fallujah. The fourth is Operation Promise of Good II, which was announced on May 1, 2009.
Operation Promise of Good II involves both Iraqi police and soldiers, and is aimed at insurgents and criminals. 21,000 police, the 5th Iraqi Army Division, and a brigade each from the 1st and 12th Divisions are all taking part. From May 1 to 11 180 suspects and wanted men have been detained according to Aswat al-Iraq. These include an Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, 11 other members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and five insurgents from the Baathist al-Naqshabandiya group. Hundreds of small arms, mortars, and ammunition have also been seized.
What marks this campaign from others however is the fact that politicians have openly questioned its efficacy. First a local parliamentarian from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) said that no one trusted the security forces or the new operation on May 4, and that false information was being used to conduct arrests. The lawmaker finished by saying that the original Operation Promise of Good launched in July 2008 did not achieve its goals, and he predicted that this one would do no better. Another member of parliament demanded that the commander of the crackdown, General Ali Ghidan step down. Two days later a member of the Dawa party predicted that Operation Promise of Good II would fail as well because Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters had already fled to Kurdistan.
The outcome of the last security operation in Diyala obviously shaped these criticisms. Then, the government leaked word of the operation a month beforehand, allowing plenty of time for insurgents to flee. The provincial council also voted to dismiss the Diyala police chief, accusing him of sectarianism. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki then changed the purpose of the campaign from fighting the insurgency to imposing his political will on the province. He tried to break the growing power of the Iraqi Islamic Party and their alliance with the local Sons of Iraq, he sent forces to confront the Kurds in the disputed territory of Khanaqin, and finally, he ordered a counterterrorism unit to raid the provincial council building, leading to a shoot-out with local police and the arrest of several officials.
The fact that both major Shiite parties the Supreme Council and Dawa criticized Operation of New Hope II is telling. The Supreme Council is part of the new ruling coalition in Diyala that also includes the Kurdish Alliance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Iraqi Accordance Front. Dawa is part of the State of Law List, which is the main opposition in the province. The fact that both sides came out against the crackdown is telling. It seems that politicians are weary of possible manipulation and the security forces in general after what Prime Minister Maliki did in 2008. So far, the operation has focused upon insurgents, but there is a high level of mistrust, and lack of confidence in its success by some.
Aswat al-Iraq, “5 armed group members, 16 suspects arrested in Diala,” 5/8/09
- “10 wanted men arrested in Diala,” 5/3/09
- “11 AQI members arrested in Diala,” 5/10/09
- “20 captured within Diala operation,” 5/7/09
- “20 persons arrested in Diala,” 5/11/09
- 37 wanted men arrested in Diala in Bashaer al-Kheir II,” 5/5/09
- “AQI leader netted in Diala,” 5/11/09
- “Bashaer al-Kheir II will not eliminate gunmen – official,” 5/6/09
- “Dialans have zero trust in Iraqi security forces – MP,” 5/4/09
- “Iraqi forces start military operations in Diala,” 5/1/09
- “Iraqi Gov’t prepares for Diala offensive – Defense advisor,” 6/24/08
- “Security campaign launched in Falluja,” 5/3/09
Elliott, DJ, “Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle update: May 2009,” Long War Journal, 5/4/09
Gamel, Kim, “US says suicide bomber kills 2 Iraqis in Baqouba,” Associated Press, 8/12/08
Haynes, Deborah, “Iraqis hunt for insurgents in Diyala unearths only ghost towns and drought,” Times of London, 7/29/08
Russo, Claire, “The Maliki Government Confronts Diyala,” Institute for the Study of War, 9/23/08