The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 13 January 2014

by TRG Alerts Admin on January 13, 2014

 

The Rendon Group Snapshot Report 

(13JAN14) 

Each week The Rendon Group Alert Team will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent.  The Snapshot Report is intended to provide a summary of events on a given issue over the past week as well as a sample of experts who cover that issue.  The Rendon Group does not endorse the positions on issues that the listed experts hold nor does The Rendon Group hold a position on any of the topics chosen for the Snapshot Reports.  As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request.  For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.

Iraq Launches Offensive Against al-Qaeda Militants in Anbar Province

Al-Qaeda-linked militants have made a resurgence in Iraq by taking control of key cities in Anbar Province, including Fallujah. The Iraqi army has begun a major offensive in the province, located adjacent to Baghdad, in an effort to push the insurgents out. Though the army has made progress in retaking the key city of Ramadi, experts believe that it will face a serious struggle in recapturing Fallujah. Negotiators are now working on a deal that would have the al-Qaeda militants hand control of the city over tribal leaders, in return for the Iraqi military stopping an assault on the city.

News summary of events related to the Anbar offensive:

  • On 08JAN, the Iraqi army began a large-scale offensive to expel al-Qaeda linked militants in Anbar Province. (DPA)
  • On 08JAN, US Vice President Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki for the second time to discuss escalating violence. (DEFCON Hill)
  • On 09JAN, at least three policemen were killed in a suicide car bombing in Ramadi. (Xinhua)
  • On 10JAN, clashes broke out between Iraqi special forces and al-Qaeda insurgents. (AP)
  • On 10JAN, police and tribesman retook two areas within Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. (AFP)
  • On 10JAN, a government airstrike on Ramadi killed 25 al-Qaeda-linked militants. (AP)
  • On 11JAN, the UN Security Council backed Iraq’s campaign against al-Qaeda. (AFP)
  • On 11JAN, negotiators began working on a deal under which al-Qaeda groups would cede control of Fallujah to tribal leaders to evade military intervention. (Al Jazeera)
  • On 11JAN, an Iraqi official said that at least 60 people were killed in fighting over the past two weeks. (AP)
  • On 12JAN, a US intelligence expert concluded that Iraq faces major challenges in retaking the city of Fallujah. (AFP)

 

Sample of Twitter handles regarding the Anbar offensive:

@Charles_Lister – Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center

@hadeelasayegh – Hadeel AlSayegh, Senior reporter for The National (UAE)

@nedmparker1 – Ned Parker, Ex-Los Angeles Times Baghdad Bureau Chief

@prashantrao – Prashant Rao, AFP Iraq Bureau Chief

@wgdunlop – W.G. Dunlop, Iraq-based correspondent for AFP

 

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the offensive:

Jessica Lewis, Research Director at Institute for Study of War

“The US Marines had difficulty assaulting Fallujah in 2004. The Iraqi army is not prepared to sustain a comparable fight.” – Iraq would face huge challenge in Fallujah assault: Experts, AFP, 11JAN14

Julianne Smith, Senior Fellow and Director at Center for Strategic and International Studies

“There was never a sense at the White House that this is a wrap, that we’ve somehow resolved all the conflict in [Iraq] and the U.S. could pull back… At the end of the day, the United States does not control what happens in Iraq.” – Grim Sequel to Iraq’s War, New York Times, 08JAN14

Ross Caputi,Anti-war activist and Former Marine

“The rhetoric that was given about the siege [of Fallujah], that we were fighting against terrorism and we were bringing freedom to Iraqis … and making America a safer place; the second siege of Fallujah did none of that and for all those reasons, my friends died in vain.” – For US vets, violence in Fallujah brings mixed feelings, CBS News, 08JAN14

Charles Lister, Visiting Fellow at Brookings Doha Center

“Fallujah and Ramadi may have been sites of heavy bloodshed in recent days, but the Sunni Muslims of [Anbar Province] have long held a contemptuous attitude towards the embattled government of Prime Minister (and Shia Muslim) Nuri al-Maliki.” – One move too far: How Iraq’s Nuri al-Maliki overreached in Anbar, CNN, 07JAN14

Max Boot, Senior Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations

“[al Qaeda in Iraq’s] control would stretch beyond the Sunni Triangle because its offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, dominates a significant portion of Syrian territory across the border. This creates the potential for a new nightmare: an al Qaeda state incorporating northern Syria and western Iraq.” – How al-Qaeda Terrorized Its Way Back in Iraq, CFR, 05JAN14

 

Sample of open source research by TRG analysts related to the Anbar offensive:

1. Iraqi army launches offensive against al-Qaeda militants

Media: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)

Byline: N/A

Date: 08 January 2014

Cairo (dpa) – The Iraqi army has started a large-scale campaign to expel militants linked to al-Qaeda from an area in the volatile western province of Anbar, independent Iraqi broadcaster Alsumaria News reported Wednesday.

Tanks and helicopters were used in the onslaught targeting fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the town of Jazeera, added the report, citing an unnamed police official.

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2. Biden calls Iraqi PM for second time amid violence

Media: DEFCON Hill (The Hill)

Byline: Justin Sink

Date: 08 January 2014

Vice President Biden spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by phone Wednesday, the second time in three days the world leaders had spoken amid escalating violence in Iraq.

According to the White House, the Iraqi Prime Minister updated Biden on a new agreement struck by Iraq’s military and tribal leaders intended to drive out al Qaeda rebels in the Anbar province.

On Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported that the Iraqi military had agreed to withdraw from the outskirts of Fallujah and Ramadi and to move to the outskirts of Anbar. In exchange, tribal forces and local police would move to retake police checkpoints and government buildings in the war-torn city.

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3. Tribes, police seize parts of Iraq city from militants

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 10 January 2014

RAMADI, Iraq, Jan 10, 2014 (AFP) – Tribesmen and police retook two areas of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi from militants Friday, but gunmen still held other parts of the city and controlled another one on Baghdad’s doorstep.

The United Nations and NGOs have said that civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel as a result of a government blockade, while Human Rights Watch has condemned rights abuses by all sides during the crisis.

Washington, meanwhile, has piled pressure on Baghdad to focus on political reconciliation, in addition to ongoing military operations, in a bid to resolve the standoff, which comes just months before general elections.

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4. UN Council backs Iraq government against militants

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 11 January 2014

UNITED NATIONS, United States, Jan 11, 2014 (AFP) –

The UN Security Council on Friday gave strong backing to an Iraqi government campaign to retake provincial strongholds from Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The 15-nation council agreed a statement backing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki amid mounting concern over the battle for Anbar province, which runs from the western suburbs of Baghdad up to the border with Syria.

The council condemned attacks by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and praised the “great courage” of the Iraqi security forces in Anbar.

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5. Fallujah pact in the making to keep army out

Media: Al Jazeera

Byline: N/A

Date: 11 January 2014

Negotiators are working on a deal to evade an Iraqi military intervention in the city of Fallujah, under which al-Qaeda-linked armed groups who seized the city would cede control to Sunni Muslim tribal leaders.

Military and local officials said on Friday that tanks, artillery and troops around the city, 70km west of Baghdad, would not attack while efforts to end the standoff peacefully were under way.

“The decision was made not to attack the city and to create space for local leaders to defuse the crisis,” said Falih al-Essawi, a member of Anbar’s provincial council who is involved in the negotiations with community leaders in Fallujah.

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6. Iraq would face huge challenge in Fallujah assault: experts

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Byline: N/A
Date: 11 January 2014

BAGHDAD, Jan 11, 2014 (AFP) – Assaulting militant-held Fallujah, which posed a significant challenge for American forces, would be even more difficult for Iraq and would likely cause significant civilian casualties, experts say.

And an attack on the city 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Baghdad, where gunmen seized control last week, would almost certainly inflame already-high anti-government sentiment, and end any chances for a political solution to the standoff.

“The US Marines had difficulty assaulting Fallujah in 2004. The Iraqi army is not prepared to sustain a comparable fight,” said Jessica Lewis, a former US army intelligence officer who is now research director at the Institute for the Study of War.

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