On September 13th, Ramadan began
the Islamic calendar year of 1428. In previous years, Anti-Iraqi Forces (AIF)
activity increased during Ramadan. This year, activity decreased due to
reconciliation efforts, the Mahdi Army cease-fire, and continued pressure on Al
Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Most activity occurred in Central and Northern Iraq.
During the month, American force levels were reduced in Anbar Province.
The most notable activity for AQI for September has
been the loss of key leadership in the organization. This has resulted in an
overall weakened organization. On September 25, Abu Usama al-Tunisi, the emir
for foreign fighters in Iraq, was killed in an air strike near Musayyib. He was
considered the likely replacement for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the current emir of
AQI. AQI also lost other key leaders and high value individuals.
The recent statement by Osama bin Laden focused on
the American public and mentioned Iraq in passing. The statement used a
Constructivist/ Neo-Marxist argument for the Global Jihad. Bin Ladens call for
fighters was directed at theaters other than Iraq, indicating that Al Qaeda
Senior Leaders may be losing faith in AQI. Since November 2006, 9,300 members
of the group have been killed or captured, including at least three top tier
leaders. This month, replacement levels were announced to have been cut in
half, to 30 to 40 fighters entering the country per month.
At the end of August, Muqtada al Sadr called for a
cease-fire. Since then, a decrease in his Mahdi Army related activity has been
noticed. The cease-fire was the result of the fighting between the Mahdi Army
and the Badr Brigades (Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, or SIIC) in Karbala in
August, and the Mahdi Army becoming the next government target after AQI is
crushed, and the loss of key leaders within the organization. Possibilities for
Mahdi Army reconciliation have been discussed.
Due to the cease-fire, Coalition Forces have
continued to target illegal groups that have split from Mahdi Army. Some
splinter groups with Iranian backing, labeled as Special Groups, have continued
attacks on American and Iraqi troops. They have been responsible for a large
number of Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP), kidnapping, and murder attacks
and for transporting personnel and weapons from Iran into Iraq.
Other splinter groups have been labeled as Shia
Extremists. These are likely groups which have splintered from Mahdi Army and
operate independently. Their small size and level of activity will likely cause
these groups to be reduced while activity levels remain low.
Within the past months, predicted AIF offensives
have not materialized. During the summer, a predicted massive offensive never
materialized. Again during Ramadan, an increase in activity was predicted but,
during September, activity levels decreased.
AQI continues to lose large numbers of personnel
and key leaders on a monthly basis. Mahdi Army has entered and has continued to
honor its cease-fire. Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) groups have helped greatly
in improving security and developing the Iraqi Army and Police. If current
trends continue, a large reduction of AIF activity will occur before the end of
the year. --Jonathan Henry (email@example.com)