In a story in the WaPo today, there was this little bit of info at the very end of an article on the end of "Operation Matador:"
"Commanders said they believed some of the insurgents had slipped away to the east and to Husaybah, a lawless city on the Syrian border where foreign and local insurgents are believed to be battling among themselves for control.
The U.S. military in Iraq lacks the manpower to challenge the insurgent hold on Husaybah now, Mundy and other commanders said, and the Americans' focus will be on stabilizing the larger western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi."
We lack the manpower? Are we now stretched too thin even in Iraq? I find that a very interesting admission by the military. I did a little looking into the whole Husaybah issue and found out some very interesting things. Number one; knowing about the history and location of Husaybah, rerouting forces to "stabilize" Fallujah and Ramadi seems to be a bit counterproductive.
Since the beginning of the invasion in 2003 there have been intense clashed between our U.S. marines and insurgents, smugglers, various tribes, etc.
The situation has been like this:
Thursday, 06-Nov-2003 Story from AFP via quickstart:
"With its prime location, and a new US effort to seal the border off, the town has turned into a major battlefront, with US troops and Iraqi police coming under daily attack as they try to prevent foreign fighters and smugglers from entering Iraq.
"Husaybah is the gateway. It is a test of the wills," says Major Daniel Dwyer of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment's 1st Squadron.
From May until September , we were focused on the border checkpoint and engaging the city. We didn't have the capabilities we have now," says Dwyer.
"If you were a foreigner and you wanted to come in, you would take trails or breaks in the berms (dirt walls) because of the lack of a large coalition presence. There was an opportunity for foreigners to enter."
This left the area's best infiltration point, around the Euphrates just north of Husaybah's border checkpoint, without regular patrols.
The route boasts forest camouflage, villagers willing to take a bribe and quick and easy access to the main highway leading right to the hotbeds of resistance, Ramadi and Fallujah inside the conservative, desert province of al-Anbar."
April 18 2004 marine corp moms:
"A report from embedded reporter Ron Harris from the Saint Louis Post Dispatch provides a few details on what the 3/7 [Marines] faced yesterday:
"In some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks, five Marines were killed and dozens of Iraqi insurgents slain in a daylong battle that began early Saturday in Husaybah. Marines beat back the offensive by what was reported to be hundreds of Iraqis from another area who had slipped into this city just 300 yards east of the Syrian border."
It is obvious this is a crucial nexus of the insurgency. If they can't even get control of Husaybah, why worry about Fallujah and Ramadi, not that those two cities are under control either. Now, comes the really odd part:
May 8, 2005 netblues.com
HUSAYBAH, Iraq — The Marines stationed at Camp Gannon, on the outskirts of this outlaw town where insurgents are thick on the ground, are used to being shot at. So when they recently heard AK-47 weapons fire and dozens of mortar blasts echoing throughout the town, they weren't surprised.
This time, however, they weren't the target.
"They were shooting at each other," said Capt. Frank Diorio, the camp's commanding officer. Marines have watched insurgents lob dozens of mortar rounds at one another and engage in hours-long gunfights. And townspeople, troops here believe, have occasionally joined the fight.
Some Marines speculate that one group of insurgents may have attacked another faction. They believe that local groups are fighting those aligned with foreign militants."
Sounds pretty freaking messed up. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell we're doing there and why 1,615 of our troops are dead for it.
If you're wondering what the Syrian role in all this is and why they aren't stopping the infiltration...
October 16, 2004
"Syria reports it has placed hundreds of troops along the border, but says the area is too large to control. Indeed, the US has been erstwhile unable to seal off the Iraqi side since the occupation began."
And continues to be unable to stop it. The fact that they've said they don't have the manpower to handle it right now, speaks volumes and puts paid to the notion that the Syrian govt. is complicit in it. Even Saddam had trouble keeping this area under his thumb.
The real issue is still the part Saudi jihadis are playing in this thing. The WaPo did an article (They must have read my post May 9th) saying the majority of insurgents, "foreign fighters," [we're the biggest contingent of foreign fighters], was Saudis.
"In a paper published in March, Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on terrorism, analyzed the lists of jihadi dead. He found 154 Arabs killed over the previous six months in Iraq, 61 percent of them from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis together accounting for another 25 percent. He also found that 70 percent of the suicide bombers named by the Web sites were Saudi.
In three cases, Paz found two brothers who carried out suicide attacks. Many of the bombers were married, well educated and in their late twenties, according to postings.
"While incomplete," Paz wrote, the data suggest "the intensive involvement of Saudi volunteers for jihad in Iraq."
Evan F. Kohlmann, a researcher who monitors Islamic extremist Web sites, has compiled a list of more than 235 names of Iraqi dead gleaned from the Internet since last summer, with more than 50 percent on his tally from Saudi Arabia as well
One Web forum examined by The Post, a site first registered to an Abu Dhabi individual on Sept. 18, 2001, and believed to attract postings from al Qaeda, presents a regularly updated list of the "Arab martyrs in Iraq."
The forum, at http://www.qal3ah.net/ , was used by both Paz and Kohlmann in compiling their lists; other researchers also said they regularly consulted the site, which bills itself as a sort of town hall for the jihad-inclined.
Saudis were also the leading group on this list, representing 44 percent, followed by Syrians and Iraqis at less than 15 percent each..."
There might be a certain amount of Iraqis driving car bombs around and not knowing it, just hapless victims, but the majority are mainly Saudis and they are there to blow themselves up. Question is; when are we going to stop using the Syrians as scapegoats and go after the Sauid royal family, who are well aware of what's going on and aren't doing anything about it.