Thursday, May 26, 2005

Operation New Market

There are several interesting things about the battalion sized operation against insurgents in Haditha, Iraq. First, Haditha is near the place where US forces nearly captured Abu Musab Zarqawi on February 20 of this year. Readers may recall the details of that story, in which Zarqawi escaped capture by jumping out of his vehicle and hiding in the area.

US forces just missed arresting Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq in a February 20 raid between Hit and Haditha, near the Euphrates river, a statement said. "Zarqawi was able to escape capture as coalition forces closed in on his vehicle. Zarqawi's driver, Abu Usama, was captured during the raid," it said.

Second is location. Haditha is in the middle of the Euphrates river line that has Qusabayah/Qaim on its northern terminus on the Syrian border and Falljah as its southeastern anchor. Haditha is also where a roadline goes northeastwards across the top of Tharthar Lake, the scene of an earlier operation against an insurgent camp, toward the Tigris river line. The third is tempo. Haditha is the second straight operation against the Euphrates river line this month. It is about the same size as Operation Matador. "U.S. military officials said Operation New Market is about the same size a weeklong assault dubbed Operation Matador that began May 7." The Globe and Mail also notes the succession of attacks:

Earlier this month, U.S. forces conducted a weeklong operation in the city of Qaim and other Iraqi towns near the Syrian border aimed at rooting out militants allied to Jordanian-born terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and destroying their smuggling routes into Syria. At least 125 militants were killed in that operation, along with nine U.S. Marines, the military said.

The obvious inference, though not necessarily the correct one, is that the Haditha assault is part of a campaign to 'chop up' the Euphrates River line. A convenient place to start the narrative is the second battle of Fallujah in November, 2004, followed by Tharthar Lake in March, 2005, Qusabayah/Qaim in May 2005 and lastly, the current attack on Haditha.

Although some news stories are describing this attack as a reaction to a recent attack by insurgents on US vehicles launched from Haditha hospital, it is more probable that the arrow of causality is the other way around. US forces were drawing a noose round Haditha and the insurgents had hoped to bloody the American nose to slow them down. If so, they succeeded only temporarily. Reuters has eyewitness details of New Market.

Haditha residents said U.S. troops began their operation at around 5 a.m. (0100 GMT), moving door-to-door through the largely deserted streets as helicopters hovered overhead. "They came to my house, there were about 15 of them, and they searched everything, looking for weapons and asking if I knew any insurgents," said Maher Dali, dean of the college of arts at the province's Anbar University. "After they'd finished searching, they left, that was it."

A doctor at Haditha's hospital, Waleed al-Hadithi, said he had received two dead and one wounded person since the operation began. Other residents said the town was completely occupied and the streets were empty, with most people too frightened to leave their homes. Some said U.S. troops had used sound bombs, which cause a loud blast but little damage.

So far -- and it is early days yet -- there have been no reports of the fights to the death in fortifications that characterized Operation Matador. One reason for the fairly weak enemy response is that they may be beaten down. Although it seems almost too pat to be connected, it is impossible not to connect the events in Haditha to reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi has been seriously wounded. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Amid an onslaught of attacks against Iraqis and U.S. troops, a statement posted Tuesday on the Internet said the man believed responsible for much of the violence has been wounded in action. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, is suffering from an unspecified "heroic injury," according to a Web site used by al-Zarqawi's organization, Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi, whom the U.S. has linked to many of the bloodiest acts of terrorism in Iraq during the past two years, has a $25 million bounty on his head, equal to that of Osama bin Laden.

Whether that is true or not, the location of the US attack, and above all the quickening tempo of operations, indicates that the coalition can now land battalion-sized blows in quick succession.


Blogger Doug said...

Operation New Market is an attempt to nail Zarqawi. Solid inteligence led us to his neighborhood during Operation Matador and I believe the same level of info has led the Marines to Haditha.

I think the terrorist statement that Zarqawi was taken to a nearby country for treatment is an attempt at disinformation.

These statements are based on nothing more then my intuition.

5/26/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

Operation New Market:

The Institute will be heard from today. T. J. Jackson 1863

5/26/2005 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

So we know what the classical stages are for an insurgency.

What are the stages for defeat of insurgency?

If we look to the American West, the Indian Wars ended when the US Army achieved mobility across the entire home turf of the Tribe while the Indians were denied any form of rest or refit. This was so for the Apaches and the Sioux.

The ability of the US to mount BN sized operations at will across ALL of Iraq suggests an engame is afoot. There will be zero places to hide.

5/26/2005 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

This is true: "the quickening tempo of operations, indicates that the coalition can now land battalion-sized blows in quick succession."

But assuming "the ability of the US to mount BN sized operations at will across ALL of Iraq..." overstates the case.

Now the US can "only" launch (or has only launched) a quick single series of such attacks in geographic succession. But that may be good enough to tip the inverted pendulum. Red River's analysis is correct, and we can see it as a hopeful but likely forecast.

David Pittelli

5/26/2005 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I think they would take Zarqawi out-of-country if they could; he is too valuable to their cause for him to be killed, found dead, or captured.

5/26/2005 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Don Black said...

I just have to wonder, if Zarqawi has been wounded, has anyone checked French hospitals?

5/27/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

LGF says:

Hammorabi in Iraq is reporting a rumor that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has died. (Unverified, of course.)

Gateway Pundit has more.

see: Zarqawi an Ex-Terrorist?

Gateway Pundit:

Today Saudi daily al-Watan is claiming that Zarqawi's family is waiting for officia word of his death...


"...The police reportedly arrested the doctor who had been treating him who is said to have confirmed his injury and excape from US soldiers."

See:Gateway Pundit

5/27/2005 03:59:00 PM  

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