In Diyala, politicians, religious and tribal figures demanded that their province be included in the security plan of Baghdad. This came after dozens of foreign Arab militants ran away from Baghdad to areas across Diyala in order to avoid raids by the Iraqi and American forces during the incoming security plan to secure Baghdad.
Eyewitnesses told al-Sabah that areas such as New Baquba, Gatoon and al-Zour in Miqdadiya have become convenient bases for terrorists and foreign al-Qaeda members from Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.
This movement of terrorists forced most of the families in these areas to leave either to neighboring countries or to the southern provinces.
The people are asking the interior and defense ministries and the MNF to seal the entrances and exits in order to contain and capture those terrorists in order for Baghdad's plan to succeed. In the same regard a knowledgeable security source stressed that the success of Baghdad's plan depends on the stability of surrounding provinces, especially Diyala…
Actually the people in Diyala have every reason to worry about such migration of terror cells because in fact even without reading what those eyewitnesses and officials had to say one would expect insurgents and terrorists to choose hiding in Diyala rather than other provinces until the security operations are through.
I can see some reasons for this choice; Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda fighters would prefer Diyala over Anbar because:
-They have established many bases in the both, but;
-Anbar is expecting 4,000 additional troops. This along with increased pressure by the tribes in Anbar and the fact that reaching Diyala would be easier than Anbar make Diyala the alternative.
On the other hand and at the same time Sadr's militiamen seem to have chosen Diwaniya to be their destination in case they come under fire in Baghdad, the same al-Sabah report adds:
The national security officer in Diwaniya Mehdi Abu-D'ayna stressed that his province that enjoys stability would possibly turn into a shelter for militants escaping areas of tension similar to what happened in the past.
But he also pointed out the security measures that are underway to stop militants from entering the city such as increasing the number of checkpoints and asking the locals for more cooperation in monitoring strangers.
And the reasons to expect this movement here are clear as well; first of all Diwaniya is not far away from Baghdad, and the past few months had shown the level of the Sdarists strength in that city when order was restored only after reinforcements were summoned from neighboring provinces.
The Sadrists feel they are very strong in Diwaniya and what their man in the city said yesterday shows the level of extremism of the Sadr followers in this city. This is the same man who ordered the execution of unarmed Iraqi soldiers last summer and his threat this time shows a strange lust for violence that is likely to attract militiamen who want to keep fighting regardless of place.
Both cases indicate that the bad guys are adjusting their plans as the government and US military adjust theirs. The clear and hold tactic means militants will have little chance to maneuver within Baghdad like they used to do to work around previous crackdowns so now they are planning to make long-range maneuvers in provinces outside Baghdad.
Although the main objective of the new security plan is securing Baghdad, it would be a good idea for the military commanders to keep an eye on a few other provinces because we don't want to fight the same men twice, or thrice!