Today and yesterday saw two significant events both within the ongoing siege of Baghdad and within the campaign to isolate the governorates one from the other.
The Bridge Campaign In Brief
Key to the graphic:
- Smoke is seen rising from the scene of the bombing in this photograph taken shortly after the bombing.
- Several of the spans were destroyed.
Major Bridge Attacks Summary:
- Two Baghdad bridges – the Sarafiyah bridge, was totally destroyed.
- A key highway overpass in the capital was also bombed.
- The Badoush bridge bombing.
- The bombing of Sahra bridge
- The overpass bombing
- The Al Sabtiya bombing
The bombing of the Al Sabtiya bridge
A suicide bombing destroyed the Al Sabtiya bridge, an important bridge near Baqubah Diyala today Monday June 11th 2007. (Source: اصوات العراق – تفجير إنتحاري يدمر جسرا مهما قرب بعقوبة) The bridge spans the Diyala river and connects Baqubah (the capital of Diyala governorate), to the Northern Areas of the province.
Green zone government police said that the bomber drove his car onto the bridge and detonated his payload. The bridge is guarded by a detachment of Georgian troops at the time of writing it’s not known if they suffered any casualties.
Significance of the bombing
The bombing of the Al Sabtiya bridge means that all access to Baghdad to and from the North-eastern parts of the governorate is now via one, very dangerous, route running through Baqubah. The Al Sabtiya bridge bombing should therefore be seen as part of the broader campaign of isolating and besieging the capital and should be considered in conjunction with the daily attacks upon convoys which have been so common for more than 18 months that only particularly shocking examples get reported, (or if it’s a very slow news day.)
The Highway Overpass Bombing Sunday June 10 2007:
Similarly yesterday’s bombing of the highway overpass in Mahmoudia which killed three American soldiers and injured six others is part of a concerted campaign.
Significance of the bombing
Mahmoudiyah lies south of Baghdad and connects the capital to the Southern governorates it is often referred to as the “gateway to Baghdad.” As can be seen in the photograph the bomb demolished the overpass which is part of the capital’s main north-south artery it is difficult to overstate this highway’s importance.
Comment And Analysis
The bridge bombing campaigns overlap and are escalating steadily both within and outside Baghdad. This is the third major bombing this in less than a fortnight. The goals of these campaigns are as follows:
- To isolate Baghdad.
- To isolate districts of Baghdad.
- To cut off the governorates one from another.
The isolation of Baghdad from the rest of the country is an important goal for those resisting the continued American attempts to subjugate Irak. By doing so they deny political credibility to the green zone government headed by Nouri Al Maliki.
Militarily it is part of the push to isolate the American forces stationed in the capital and then pick them off at leisure.
A similar benefit to those resisting the Americans derives from the bombings within Baghdad itself .
Bridge bombings within Baghdad make it far more difficult for American and green zone government forces to establish anything other than temporary control of huge swathes of the capital, to respond to incidents, or to reinforce units under pressure or indeed in danger of annihilation when they are attacked.
The bombings outside of Baghdad are aimed at rendering the country ungovernorable by denying huge swathes of territory to the American forces. Good example of attacks aimed to achieve this are the Sahra bridge bombing and today’s Al Sabtiya bridge bombing.
As our colleague Abu Omar wrote on July 2nd about the Sahra bridge bombing:
In a major escalation of the campaign to destroy key bridges throughout Irak bombers destroyed about half of the Sahra bridge over the the al-Adham river near Touz Kourmatu built in 1942 which connects Baghdad to Kirkuk, and Arbril and which connects also Suleiman Beck to Touz Kourmatu.
This bombing makes it much more difficult to mount operations against resistance fighters in the hills beyond. (The explosion destroyed half of the 4 by 12 metre spans. )
(Primary Source: اصوات العراق – مسلحون ينسفون الجسر الرابط بين كركوك وبغداد )
In carrying out these attacks the forces resisting the American efforts to subjugate Irak are following a well understood military doctrine and one carried out by the Americans themselves such as their October 2005 bombing of eight bridges on the Euphrates River in western Iraq to stop insurgents using them. At that time of the 12 bridges between the Syrian border and Ramadi, 110km west Baghdad, four were under the control of American forces or of their green zone government underlings and the remaining under the control of those fighting the invaders. Such control as the Americans were able to wrest back was gained only by destroying essential infrastructure. A point admitted at the time by the then American forces spokesman Major General Rick Lynch.
“One of the vulnerabilities of this insurgency is freedom of movement
“We took out portions of these bridges to deny terrorists, foreign fighters and insurgents the capability to cross north to south or south to north across the Euphrates River.”
When a conventional army is reduced to such tactics it is an admission that they are in such dire straits that the military value of the bridges to the enemy far outweighs their military , political, economic, or social value to you. Being willing to destroy the basic infrastructure of a country in order to deny them to your enemy is an admission that you have no other way to deny them the use of those assets. It means that not only are your “boots on the ground” ineffective but that you can’t collect enough intelligence to make your opponents pay for using what should be choke points.
From the point of view of those resisting the American attempts to subjugate Irak the situation is reversed. They are already far more mobile, have an intimate knowledge of the terrain, and have far fewer logistics vulnerabilities. It is in their interest to deny the use of key infrastructure to the American and green zone forces. The better to isolate and then pick them off at their leisure. Over the next few months we expect to see further such bombing attacks preparatory to a series of complex attacks aimed at overruning American outposts and either slaughtering their defenders or of taking them prisoner with a view to forcing the Americans to provide further targets of opportunity.
In related developments the electricity distribution infrastructure destruction campaign is escalating further its success may be judged from the fact that the entirety of Karbala governorate is now without electrical supplies. (Source: اصوات العراق – محافظات الفرات الأوسط تشهد انقطاعا تاما للكهرباء ) The pipeline attacks continue as do the pipeline attacks.
markfromireland, Sabi Ali Iihsan.
Insurgents hit another bridge in Iraq
By Leila Fadel
BAGHDAD – In at least the seventh attack on Iraqi bridges in the past two months, a bomb damaged a bridge over a tributary to the Tigris River on Monday, cutting off the most popular route from the northeastern part of Diyala province to Baghdad.
With the al-Sabtiya Bridge no longer usable, people heading to Baghdad from Diyala will have to travel through the violent city of Baqouba, residents said. Baqouba is the scene of daily clashes between al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents, Shiite Muslim militias and Iraqi security forces.
Eyewitnesses said a truck loaded with explosives moved onto the span and its driver detonated his cargo, sending pieces of the bridge into the water below.
The U.S. military had no immediate information on the bombing, spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Garver said. Garver said bridge bombings didn’t greatly “impede the mobility of the military.” But bridges are high-profile targets whose destruction affects the lives of civilians, he said.
“If there is a definite campaign against bridges this is an insurgency trying to destabilize the government,” he said.
In the past two months, car bombs have targeted at least seven bridges. The attacks began in April with the destruction of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad, which connected the east and west banks of the capital.
On May 11, three vehicle bombs detonated on two bridges in south Baghdad and a busy thoroughfare that leads to Taji, north of the capital.
On June 2, bombs severely damaged a bridge that links a highway from Baghdad with the northern city of Kirkuk, forcing traffic headed to Baghdad to pass through Diyala province.
The attack is the second to cripple transportation in as many days. On Sunday a U.S. checkpoint underneath an overpass south of Baghdad was hit by a car bomb that collapsed the span above, a U.S. military statement said. Three soldiers were killed and six were wounded. A translator also was wounded.
An engineer unit was being dispatched to clear the partially blocked highway, the statement said.
The Department of Transportation building in Tikrit also was attacked Sunday, according to a U.S. military statement. It was unclear how many people were killed.
McClatchy Newspapers special correspondent Ali Abdul Sattar contributed to this report from Baqouba.