Monday, November 22, 2004
As the US-Iraqi Fallujah offensive goes into its eleventh day, some hard facts glint through the pile of chaff obscuring the operation. For one, the immediate impression of several secondary fronts springing up out of the Fallujah offensive - and fought by small groups of rebels, foreign Arab and al Qaeda combatants - is misleading. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, those groups were allowed to retreat from Fallujah and “guided” towards Baqouba, Mosul and Ramadi. There, US and Kurdish forces were lying in wait to trap them and are now wiping them out...
The American tactic was in fact to push the insurgents out of Fallujah in any of four directions: south to Latafiya and Iskandariya; west to Ramadi; east to Baqouba or north to Mosul.
The Marines made sure of an open corridor or two in all the battle sectors they encircled. Their purpose was to siphon the enemy out of the city for two reasons:
A. To accomplish their mission with greater speed and minimum casualties.
B. To cut down on difficult urban, door-to-door combat by emptying the city. The enemy was expected to be easier to pick off outside Fallujah while they were in flight and in disarray.
Here's Debka's map:
What is the scissors graphic for?
One blade will lie between Fallujah and Baqouba; the second from Fallujah to Latafiya.
In the weeks to come, the two blades will come together, sweeping up the pockets of resistance in their path – foreign Arab, Iraqi and al Qaeda insurgents. American planners hope this action will clean out the area bounded by Latafiya and Iskandariya in the south and Baqouba and Ramadi in the northeast and west - right up to Baghdad.
According to our military experts, American strategists have their sights on two goals:
1. Baghdad’s virtually insulation against terrorist attack, a pre-condition for stable government, especially after the January 27 general election.
2. The division of Iraq’s heartland and Sunni region into two sectors: In one, the southern environs of Mosul, Haditha, al Qaim and other parts of Anbar province and Tikrit, insurgent warfare is not expected to disappear although its pitch will be reduced. The second - from Fallujah to Latafiya and including Baqouba and the Diyala province, southeast of Baghdad - will be rid of rebel violence. Cleaning it out is a vital element of the Fallujah offensive and intended to make sure that the Sunnis of Diyala Province turn out for the vote.
Sunni participation is important to the legitimacy of the vote in January. Perhaps, though, it is not as important that all Sunni jurisdictions vote, at least right away. According to Debka, the objective of the Fallujah campaign is create a significant safe zone within the Sunni triangle so that a clean election can occur for a significant proportion of the Sunni population, even if there are areas that are not secure enough to vote.
Debka is often interesting and often arrestingly wrong, so take all of this with a grain of salt. However, this analysis rings sufficiently true to my ear that I thought I would pass it along.