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Iraq Report VII By: Kimberly Kagan
The Weekly Standard | Friday, December 07, 2007

U.S. forces drove al Qaeda in Iraq from its sanctuaries in Diyala in 2007 and dramatically reduced violence in that province. Defeating al Qaeda in Diyala was especially important because the province had political, as well as military signifi cance for al Qaeda. The organization attempted to establish the capital of its Islamic state there. The task of defeating violent enemies in Diyala and establishing a political process there was also exceptionally more diffi cult. The enemy controlled Baqubah, the capital of Diyala, so thoroughly that it had fortifi ed defensive positions within the city. The enemy also controlled the rural terrain along the province's roads and rivers. The ethnic and sectarian diversity of Diyala's population amplifi ed the opportunities for al Qaeda's violence and its effects, including reprisal violence by Shia militias, security forces, and neighboring villages. Re-establishing security in Diyala required a series of offensive operations over four months, all aimed at controlling urban areas, rural terrain, and lines of communication (roads and rivers). After U.S. and Iraqi forces cleared Baqubah, the continued presence of U.S. troops, partnered with Iraqis and "concerned local citizens," prevented the organization from re-establishing itself there. As U.S. and Iraqi forces eliminated enemy safe havens, they encouraged some tribes and villages to turn against enemy groups. They also increased their operations against extremist militia groups which tried to establish control as al Qaeda's presence receded in the province. Commanders attempted to eliminate the insurgency more permanently in Diyala by linking tribal movements to national, provincial, and local government institutions. As commanders implemented counterinsurgency doctrine, positive synergies developed between combat operations, governance, and the policy of tribal engagement that, together, made Diyala more secure.

Editor's note: The Iraq Report is a regular feature at weeklystandard.com and offers detailed reporting and analysis of ongoing Coalition military operations both in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. To read the full report in pdf click here or on the image below.

Previous Iraq Reports:

Iraq Report I: From "New Way Forward" to New Commander, March 1, 2007

Iraq Report II: The Baghdad Security Plan begins., March 15, 2007

Iraq Report III: The Anbar Awakening., April 5, 2007

Iraq Report IV: The Battle for Diyala, May 7,2007

Iraq Report V: The Real Surge, July 6, 2007

Iraq Report VI: The Iran Dossier, August 29, 2007

Kimberly Kagan is the president of the Institute for the Study of War and the author of The Surge: A Military History (forthcoming).

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