October 21, 2004

Ready for things to get bad in Iraq?

Christopher Albritton reports that violence in Mosul is getting worse and worse. There are some reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi may be in Mosul already (he reportedly has safe houses there and in Baqubah), and if his men can turn the city into a second Fallujah, it would be an out and out nightmare. The city has six times as many people as Fallujah, easily, and it's already a source of contention between Kurds and Arabs. As with Kirkuk, many Kurds were driven out of the city during the 1990s, replaced by an influx of strongly pro-Saddam Sunnis. The Kurds would certainly like to take it (and its oil fields) back -- the U.S. had to force Kurdish peshmerga troops out of the city in the early days of the war. Meanwhile, the State Department has done nothing to resolve claims disputes in the city (they've paid minimal attention to Kirkuk). You've also got Turkomen, Christians, Armenians, Shiiites, Yezidis all over the city. If there's one place where the insurgents could provoke ethnic violence, this is it.

The U.S. military took extra special care to secure Mosul all last year -- this is where much-vaunted Maj. Gen. David Petraeus made a name for himself. But over the past few months, the 101st Airborne was rotated out for a smaller force, and now they've got primarily U.S. National Guardsmen and reservists patrolling the city, along with Iraqi National Guard forces. Like I said above, get ready for things to get bad.
-- Brad Plumer 3:11 PM || ||