Free Headline Alerts     
Worldwide Web


Thursday, July 28, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. general warns Iran-backed forces planning 'Beirut-like moment' in Iraq

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has assessed that Iraq could be torn by an insurgency offensive in 2011.


Officials said both Shi'ite and Sunni militias were equipping and training for a major campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. They said the offensive, supported by Iran, could include sustained attacks in both Baghdad as well as Shi'ite provinces in southern Iraq.

"All indications are that the militias are preparing for something big and have even suspended small-scale attacks in the meantime," an official said.

Also In This Edition

On July 26, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, nominated to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, that Iran was working toward a massive attack to force the American military out of Iraq. Dempsey cited the bombing by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah in 1983 in which 241 Marines were killed, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Iran's activities in southern Iraq are intended to produce some kind of Beirut-like moment and, in so doing, to send a message that they have expelled us from Iraq," Dempsey said. "It would be a gross miscalculation to believe that we will simply allow that to occur without taking serious consideration of reacting to that."

On July 24, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported the capture of an Al Qaida cell responsible for the death of about 100 politicians and security officers. The ministry said the 17-member cell acquired silencers and bombs to assassinate senior officials including Ali Al Lami, responsible for investigating the former ruling Baath Party.

Officials said the Iraqi militias represented rival interests, with Al Qaida and Sunni groups intent on carving zones that would be out of the control of the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad. At the same time, Iranian-backed forces were representing Teheran's interests to dominate the south, particularly Iraq's crude oil and natural gas fields.

"It is clear that Iran is attempting to influence this decision with the actions they've taken, specifically over the last several months, in continuing to support, fund, train, equip surrogates in southern Iraq and central Iraq, specifically going after the remnants of our U.S. presence inside of Iraq," U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said.

Officials acknowledge that the Al Maliki government has been paralyzed over whether to extend the stay of the U.S. military past 2011. They said Al Maliki was concerned over a confrontation with pro-Iranian politicians, particularly Shi'ite cleric, Muqtada Sadr, commander of the Mahdi Army militia.

"Every day [of delay] makes it more difficult" [for the U.S. military to continue its stay]," Odierno told the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 21.

Officials have identified the Iranian-backed Hizbullah Brigades as a key element in the insurgency campaign. The U.S. military has been holding the brigades commander, Ali Mussa Daqduq, accused of engineering attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But under an agreement with Baghdad, Daqduq and 10 remaining prisoners held by the U.S. military must be transferred to Iraqi custody by the end of the year.

"If he is released from United States custody, there is little doubt that Daqduq will return to the battlefield and resume his terrorist activities against the United States and our interests," a July 21 letter by 20 senators to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

Over the last two months, authorities have reported a major increase in insurgency attacks in Baghdad. But in July, assassinations and car bombings dropped drastically, leading officials to believe that the militias were planning a series of mass-casualty strikes.

"The Iraqi forces are strained and are not receiving sufficient leadership to handle this alone," the official said.

About Us     l    Privacy     l     l
Copyright © 2011    East West Services, Inc.    All rights reserved.