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Iraq Report: Anbar Awakening Spreads, Petraeus Connects Iran to Attacks in Iraq

5:02 PM, Apr 30, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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icon.roggio2.1.gifThe city of Baghdad continues to see a drop in sectarian violence, while suicide car bombings remain al Qaeda's most deadly tool. After the target=_blank>car bomb offensive by al Qaeda two weeks ago, which included 11 major suicide attacks over just five days, the past week inside the city has been relatively free of major attacks. Although roadside bombs, mortar attacks, and small arms fire remain a regular occurrence inside Baghdad, al Qaeda was unable to pull off any further large scale attacks--which threaten to reignite the sectarian bloodshed.

While it is difficult to assess al Qaeda's capabilities in sustaining suicide attacks inside Baghdad proper, it seems the terror group possesses enough resources to conduct several high profile attacks at a time. Coalition and Iraqi operations are putting a dent in al Qaeda's capacity nationwide; however, al Qaeda is still able to assemble enough car bombs to carry out the attacks, which are designed to split the Sunni and Shia communities and create a media frenzy.

Part of the Coalition strategy to cut down on the deadly car bomb attacks and reduce the sectarian violence is to segment the city with physical barriers. These barriers stem the flow of traffic through checkpoints and prevent the infiltration of death squads through back alleys and side streets. The news of the creation of the "Adhamiya Wall" sparked protests and the temporary halting of the barrier's construction. Opportunists likened the barrier to the fence separating Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.

But, as Omar Fadhil noted early last week, "Work to construct similar walls started weeks ago in the Amiriya and Ghazaliyah districts. The 'news' went utterly unnoticed then." Mr. Fadhil noted the barrier has had some effect in Amiriya and Ghazaliyah, and speculated that insurgents might have stirred up the local protests in an attempt to halt the building of the wall.

Dave Kilcullen, the Senior Counter-Insurgency Advisor for Multi-National Force Iraq, explained that Prime Minister Maliki restarted the project after he was briefed on the need for the barrier and target=_blank>how the protests had come about. "As I understand it, once the reasons for the project and the likely benefits in terms of lives saved were explained to the PM, he was happy for it to continue. I understand that the evidence of extremist manipulation was also a factor." Kilcullen likened the barrier to an " target=_blank>urban tourniquet," and explained that the propaganda campaign to disrupt its construction came from none other than al Qaeda in Iraq.