Crossfire War – 40 Iraqi Police Surrender to Mahdi Army in Sadr City

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – NAJAF – BAGHDAD WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – El Arish – Ramallah – Gaza – Beirut – Damascus – Baghdad – Najaf/London – Washington – Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome; US Intelligence Admits Iraq Army Controls Less than 25 Per Cent of Basra – 40 Iraq Police Surrender to Mahdi Army in Sadr City – International Green Zone Still Under Rocket – Mortar Attack – Hamas Contructs Longer Range Qassam – Syria President Assad Launches Verbal Assault Against Israel

Night Watch: BASRA – The situation for Iraq’s army and police seems to be rapidly deteriorating and knowing Tehran’s extensive contacts in the Baghdad government, including their working relationship with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that should not be surprising. It is a strategic relationship between Baghdad-Tehran designed to undermine completely any effort by the UK/US to create stable Iraqi institutions which can govern the country with a Western oriented administration. What is even more telling the Jerusalem Post/AP report some of the air strikes by UK/US warplanes seem to be mainly inflicting civilian casualties though the Pentagon strongly denies this and claims most of those killed have been Shia militia fighters. If the coalition response continues to be ineffective, and with confusion reigning, then an enormous debacle is already underway. The air strikes have to be called in by British-U. S. units on the ground which means they are increasingly isolated from the Iraq Army. Hospital officials have stated in Basra 50 civilians have been killed and 388 wounded. The most recent air strike took place in Basra’s Hananiyah district which an Iraqi policeman said killed some women and children. There are reports of pools of blood near houses and in the sewer. [JPOST]

CNN reported Saturday U. S. military intelligence analysis have admitted the Iraq Army in Basra controls less than twenty-five per cent of the city, this as Prime Minister al-Maliki has declared “no retreat,” not to mention the several cities in Iraq’s southeast where combat is continuing. Armed Shia groups, controlled by Tehran, have been the main presence in Basra for at least three years including next door to the British base at Basra Airport and have been waiting for Iran to be ready to launch the series of offensives designed to defeat the UK/US occupation and I suspect the last phase of the offensive will be the launching of ballistic and cruise missiles from Iran at the UK/US bases in the country. The head of the 60,000 member Mahdi Army, Muqtada al-Sadr, speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera, has called for Arab governments to support the “resistance” against the occupation. He of course knew the Iraq Army and police would be completely ineffective which would mean London-Washington would have no choice but to commit large numbers of units in a desperate attempt to defeat the resistance.

In a small indication members of the Iraqi security realize their position is untenable forty Iraqi police have surrendered to the al-Sadr office in Sadr City. One of them said, “We can’t fight our brothers in the Mahdi Army, so we came here to submit our weapons.” The same U. S. intelligence analysis has admitted the Iraq police and army have been thoroughly infiltrated by the Mahdi Army. Regular readers of have known I’ve been writing for years the lost alliance of London-Washington will have to leave Iraq on the dead run. Any Iraqi who attempted to serve in any capacity with the occupation would appear to not represent the Iraqi people but the foreign occupying powers. Salman al-Feraiji, the main representative of the Mahdi Army in Sadr City said those who surrendered were given olive branches and copies of the Quran. In the meantime the International Green Zone in Baghdad continues to come under daily mortar-rocket fire.

Basra – This link is to France24/AFP and their video of some of the latest fighting. [FRANCE24]

Damascus Summit – There was no olive branch extended to Israel by Syria President Bashar al-Assad during his speech at the opening session of the 20th Arab League Summit at Damascus today. “The Israeli understanding of security can never be achieved because the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories contradicts with peace and security. If security is not mutual it will be just illusive and not existed.” President al-Assad, with his deployment of military forces on the borders of Israel, Iraq and Lebanon is his way of saying he is prepared to launch more than verbal assaults. It was a near declaration of war that Damascus will justify when they make their findings public of their investigation into the mock assassination of Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh Feb. 12 in Damascus. Tehran staged the assassination to create the reason for the latest mobilization and timed with Hezbollah now fully re-supplied and with Palestinian units equipped with longer range rockets. Xinhua reports the summit ends Sunday so I have to assume the war increases next week with everyone, including Israel, prepared for major fighting with neither side in a defensive posture. [XINHUA]

Gaza – Haaretz reports, according to sources in the Palestinian Authority, Hamas militants are now using blueprints and detailed technical instructions from Iran to manufacture an upgraded version of the Qassam rocket to enable it to hit beyond the port city of Ashkelon 10 miles from the Gaza Strip. 200 Hamas militants have returned with these plans as a result of the opening-explosion of the Rafah Terminal two months ago after they were trained in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, Syria and Iran. They are receiving the exact same training as Hezbollah in the use of mines and anti-tank missiles as they are being prepared to resist against and invasion. In the meantime they will be able to target more Israeli communities with rocket fire as did Hezbollah in 2006. Israel also invaded Gaza at the time but Hamas and Palestinian militants were by no means ready to defend against an invasion then as they are now. [HAARETZ]

At the same time Iran continues to smuggle in the larger more powerful Katyusha rocket into Gaza by sea though Tehran is concentrating on using the more prevalent Qassam to its fullest extent. Other Palestinian militant units like the PFLP-GC (Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Guardian Council) are also being trained in the new weaponry and tactics.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.