NSN Iraq Daily Update 2/11/08

NSN Iraq Daily Update 2/11/08
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VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE

More than 50 killed by car bombs and gunmen. The targets were new U.S. allies, police and civilians in northern Iraq, and the death toll is as high as 53 people. The deadliest bombing occurred on Sunday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, against a checkpoint manned jointly by Iraqi police and members of an awakening group. Police and hospital officials said 34 people were killed and 37 others were wounded. The explosion came hours after suspected Islamist extremists stormed two villages near the Syrian border but were repelled by U.S.-allied fighters and Iraqi security forces in clashes that left at least 22 people dead- 10 militants and six members of the so-called awakening group in the area, as well as four women and two children. The U.S. military in northern Iraq confirmed an attack on compound housing its Sunni allies against Islamist extremists in Iraq near Sinjar, about 60 miles west of Mosul, saying five U.S.-allied fighters were killed, five were wounded and 10 insurgents were killed. Four civilians were killed Sunday when a tanker truck laden with explosives blew up near an Iraqi army checkpoint on Mosul's southern outskirts. [AP, 2/11/08]

Sunni bombing victims feared going to Shi'a hospital. Iraqi Police said nearly 40 were wounded in the suicide attack near Balad. But Capt. Kadim Hamid said many residents in the predominantly Sunni area had removed victims directly from the site because they feared going to the hospital in Balad's mostly Shi'a center. [AP, 2/11/08]

THE "AWAKENING" STRATEGY IS IN DANGER OF COLLAPSING

Conflict intensifies between local Iraqi governments and U.S.-backed Sunni groups. Conflicts between provincial governments and local Sunni forces allied with the U.S. intensified this weekend in Diyala and Anbar provinces. The conflicts raise the prospect that the creation of the groups, known as Awakening Councils or Concerned Local Citizens, formed to fight extremists and bring calm to the country, might instead add to the unrest in the provinces. In Diyala 300 members of the local Sunni groups left the outposts, from which they start patrols and guard the surrounding areas. The walkout was a protest against the province's Shi'a police commander, whom the Sunni groups accuse of being sectarian and a member of Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. Meanwhile, Diyala province's police commander has accused many in those citizens groups of continuing their past activities of killing and displacing Shi'a families, removing some of them from their posts and detaining others. In Anbar province, tensions escalated between leaders of the local Sunni groups and the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni party that controls the provincial council. Party members say they might bring a lawsuit against the Awakening leaders for saying they would oust the party from control. [NY Times, 2/10/08]

REPORT CALLING POSTWAR PLANNING INSUFFICIENT WAS BURIED BY THE ARMY

Army buried study faulting Iraq planning. The Army has sought to keep a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for it by the RAND Corporation a secret. After 18 months of research, the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military, submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called "Rebuilding Iraq." However, the study's wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key. A review of the lengthy report shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. The report on rebuilding Iraq was part of a seven-volume series by RAND on the lessons learned from the war. Asked why the report has not been published, Timothy Muchmore, a civilian Army official, said it had ventured too far from issues that directly involve the Army. When RAND researchers began their work, nobody expected it to become a bone of contention with the Army. The idea was to review the lessons learned from the war, as RAND had done with previous conflicts. [NY Times, 2/11/08]

DEFENSE SECRETARY ENDORSES KEEPING 130,000 TROOPS IN IRAQ THROUGH AT LEAST THE END OF THE SUMMER

Gates says drawdown of U.S. troops may be delayed. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday endorsed, for the first time, the idea of pausing the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq this summer. "A brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense," Gates told reporters at a U.S. base in southern Baghdad after meeting with top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus. Petraeus has recently indicated that he wants a period of evaluation this summer to assess the impact of troop reductions on Iraqi security. Until now it had been unclear how Gates felt about the idea of a pause; he had said publicly a number of times that he hoped conditions in Iraq would permit a continuation of the drawdown in the second half of the year. [NY Times, 2/11/08. AP, 2/11/08]

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