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U.S and Iraqi troops fail to ‘subdue’ Diyala

Hussain al-Yaaqoubi, Azzaman

August 13, 2008

Despite repeated offensives and presence of tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops, the Province of Diyala still remains a major rebel stronghold in Iraq.

The province of which Baaquba is the capital is a restive territory where Iraqi resistance groups and members of al-Qaeda organization have apparently dug in for a protracted and difficult fight.

The province is predominantly Arab Sunni Muslim. But unlike the once rebel Province of Anbar, it has sizeable communities of other sects and nationalities.

The Kurds have sent in their militias who have for long spread their control over three major districts in the province – Khaniqeen, Jalawla and Hamreen.

There are Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen Shiites in the province, too.

Appointments for senior civil and police and security positions have always led to popular reaction, some of it rather violent.

The recent dismissal of the province’s police chief Ghanim al-Quraishi has led to violent protests in several areas and chaos in provincial administration.

Quraishi was alleged to be sympathetic to former army and police officers many of whom he had rehabilitated in an attempt to contain violence.

But the move angered tribal leaders whom the U.S. has financed and armed to raise their own militias. The chieftains say they are loyal to Quraishi and have refused the order to have him dismissed.

And despite heavy military presence and tight security, Diyala’s Governor Raad Jawad was the target of a suicide attack on Tuesday. The governor was unhurt but the attack was a daring attempt, signaling that the rebels were still a force to reckon with.

There were two more suicide attacks in the past two days in Baaquba, both targeting police stations.

A row over the presence of Kurdish militias or peshmerga is feared to lead to an armed conflict.

Mohammed al-Dayni, an MP representing Baaquba, said the presence of Kurdish militias and Kurdish attempts to add certain districts to their self-rule enclave, were fuelling tension in the province.

"The Kurds have confiscated land and houses and Arab tribes are really upset," he said.

The government has given the Kurds 24 hours to leave the province.

The government says Kurdish peshmerga have not right to deploy outside the Kurdish autonomous region without prior approval.

The Kurds say their peshmerga are there to protect Kurds from 'terrorist attacks."

:: Article nr. 46416 sent on 14-aug-2008 18:54 ECT


Link: www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\2008-08-13\kurd.htm

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