This piece of news:
“An Iraqi insurgent group, meanwhile, said on a Web site it had taken 11 Iraqi National Guard soldiers hostage.
They were seized on a highway between Baghdad and Hillah, according to the Internet posting by the militant group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army. The posting included the names of all 11.”
The location mentioned above is also roughly in the area mentioned in my previous post. It is a big mistake that this region is not properly controlled. It seems to me that the military strategy requires drastic revision. This pocket of Latifiya-Yousifiya-Iskandarya, which by the way is connected by a back road to the Falujah area, must be under careful surveillance as a matter of urgency. I know this area very well as I have done much work there. In this particular triangle which is situated just to the south of Baghdad, were concentrated the installations of “War Industrialization”, of Sadam. The previous regime has taken care to populate this region with the “right kind” of demography. For instance, the ammunition and explosive manufacturing complexes of “Al Qaqaa” which is connected with another complex called “Hittin”, which in turn leads to the industrial complex of “Iskandariya Mechanical Industries”, form a vast expanse of manufacturing compounds. From the vicinity of Al-Qaqaa complex there is a road which crosses the river nearby where a strategic bridge was built by “The Military Industrialization Corps” in the late eighties. Crossing that bridge there is a highway which passes through an area called “Jurf Al Sakhar”, where a major project of Petrochemical Industry and a refinery had been planned since long time. In the eighties of the last century the last project was actually a joint venture with a consortium led by “Bechtel”, with American financing, and the work was actually started in the eighties and early nineties, but of course could not continue.
The highway continues to lead to an area called “Amiriyah” which is on the outskirts of Fallujah, and where many of other war industry complexes are located, such as the famous “Saddam Establishment” for the manufacture of artillery and related hardware, built by the Yugoslavs in the seventies. Many other factories were planned and actually started in this area, many of which have much to do with the WMD programs. This entire region is a sparsely populated wilderness, (apart from an ultra modern housing town in Amiriyah, and the housing compounds of Iskandariya) with tribal peasant communities here and there, with the military installations mentioned above largely in ruins, but nevertheless providing excellent hiding places for any subterranean groups, not to mention the important stocks of explosives and other hardware which were extensively looted and hidden by the ex-regime bandits and their ilk in these regions, no doubt with the collusion of many of the local peasants, to whom many of the bandits are related tribally. Thus the latest revelation of the disappearance of about 350 tons of high explosives from Al Qaqaa site does not surprise me or any Iraqi in the least, and I am sure this is but a small sample of the stuff actually in the hands of the peasants and bandits around there and elsewhere in the country. People don’t seem to realize the enormity of the quantities of weaponry and ammunition of all kinds that existed before the fall of the regime. Saddam had at one time a standing army of 2 millions and sufficient armament and ammunition for these as well as the numerous security organizations. Where do you think all this material has gone?
Before building the bridge abovementioned the other side of the river (i.e. the location of the Petrochemical project), was an incredible wilderness. Some of my colleagues swear that they had seen a kind of leopard or tiger when they started work on some civil works there. Reptiles and lizards of all kinds dart rapidly in front of you as walk, this I have witnessed personally many times. I have seen many foxes and I am sure many kinds of wild life used to abound there. Rather pretty palm groves form a kind of narrow band on each side of the river.
Thus armed groups of terrorists and insurgents can move about freely and in small groups throughout this rather large area, and have no problem in finding shelter from a population, either intimidated or actually sympathetic, not to mention the lucrative business of kidnappings and ransoms which is developing into a major industry in these parts, in addition to financial support which is pouring generously from many sources. To pin them down and track them requires considerable effort and skill. Nevertheless, to control these parts is more important in my opinion than even the problem of Fallujah. Another rather similar area is situated near the Iranian border in the east in the Governorate of Diala, where constant harassment by the subversives is going on, including the latest massacre of the poor army recruits. In my humble opinion, neutralizing and controlling these regions should precede any push towards the urban concentrations of the West.