Wednesday, May 03, 2006

GIs Kill 10 in Raid on Al Qaida Hide Out

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. troops raided a suspected al-Qaida hide-out Tuesday, killing 10 insurgents - three of them wearing suicide vests - as American forces stepped up the hunt for the group's leader, terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.[snip]

Meanwhile Tuesday, American troops searched for "an al-Qaida terrorist leader" in the pre-dawn raid at a safehouse about 25 miles southwest of the U.S. air base in Balad, north of Baghdad, the military said.

The raid unfolded when troops surprised a guard and shot him before he could fire his pistol, the military said. As the insurgent fell, he detonated a suicide vest. Two more insurgents were killed inside the hide-out and the others outside as they tried to escape. Two of the dead were also found wearing explosive vests. One insurgent was wounded.

While everyone is mum about whether Zarqawi is the target, he is always the target. He would also be stupid to hang out at a known place after multiple raids have rolled up several insurgent hideouts since April 16:

It was the fourth raid reported by the U.S. command against al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida-in-Iraq network since April 16, when American troops stormed a house in Youssifiyah just south of the capital, killing six people, including a woman, and arresting five people, among them an unidentified al-Qaida official.

However, CNN reported that the captives said al-Zarqawi had been in a nearby house.

It's not just the info from a specific raid. It's likely certain groups who are interested in making good on some political concessions and using whatever leverage they can to make it work. And, it is fairly well known that many groups have separated themselves from the mujihadeen, only four have decided to stay and create the mujiroun sharia council that eventually placed Zarqawi as a "general in the field" instead of the leader of both the political and military operations..

Last weekend, President Jalal Talabani said officials from his office had met with insurgent representatives and he was hopeful they might agree to a deal. Talabani also said American officials had met with insurgents.

U.S. officials have confirmed meeting Iraqis linked to the Sunni Arab insurgency but have avoided identifying them. Last month, however, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad attributed a sharp drop in U.S. deaths in March to an ongoing dialogue with disaffected Sunnis.

On Tuesday, a leading Arabic language newspaper said Khalilzad had met with insurgent representatives in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 16 and later in Baghdad on seven occasions. The newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, attributed the information to an unidentified insurgent official.

Of course the problem is that attacks have stepped back up a bit, but it shouldn't be surprising. First, it's April and May, it's the "campaign season" that most old warriors and insurgents understand it to be time to put the army in the field. Negotiations are sometimes used to delay the start of "battle" if one side or the other feels unprepared to begin the campaign.

The AP report puts the increase in a different light:

According to the newspaper, the official said his group presented a memorandum to Khalilzad, who expressed interest and promised to respond. However, no response was received and the insurgents decided to break off the dialogue after the new government was announced April 22.

Largely because the new government is Shia led and any negotiations must be undertaken with the new Iraqi government for any legitimacy to the deal. The Shia must be willing to accept it. Right now, Americans are acting as negotiating middlemen. That means we are tolerated by most, but loved by very few. We are needed because open civil war is still a possibility, but less likely as certain political and security operations continue.

I recommend reading the rest of this article as it is one of the best explanations of the situation with logic that I've read from AP for a long time: maybe ever.
GIs raid AQ Hide Out, 10 insurgents killed

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