Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iraq is still complicated

Not that anyone paying attention to Iraq thought that it was en route to stability, but in a tell-tale sign of a deteriorating security situation, a newly named group of "bad guys" has emerged (as if imaginary figures becoming real wasn't enough). For a while the once evilest Special Groups had been joined by a local branch of Hezbollah. But now they have more company --

Coalition forces arrested six suspected members of the [Mahdi Army] JAM Special Groups and Promise Day Brigade and killed one suspected network criminal early Sunday in Al Kut.

In an operation fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government, Coalition forces targeted a network financier, who is also responsible for smuggling weapons into the country to support JAM Special Groups and Promise Day Brigade.

Coalition forces approached a residence believed to be the location of the suspect, as forces approached the residence an individual with a weapon came out of the home. Forces assessed him to be hostile, and they engaged the man, killing him. During the engagement, a woman in the area moved into the line of fire and was also struck by gunfire. A Coalition forces medic treated her on site, but she died of her wounds before she could be evacuated.

As one can tell from the press release, it's written to head off criticism of the civilian fatality. But it also appears to be the first mention of the "Promise Day Brigade". Which highlights another bit of blowback. Back when the surge was the greatest military strategy of all time, Moqtada al-Sadr's loss of control of the Mahdi Army was seen as a good thing. But now it appears that the lack of central control is generating volatile off-shoot militias. If Northern Ireland is any guide to the rhetoric, we'll soon be encouraged to the pleased if the militias start fighting each other.

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