Small Wars Journal

The Break Point: AQIZ Establishes the ISI in Zaganiayh

Thu, 04/17/2008 - 6:26pm

The Break Point: AQIZ Establishes the ISI in Zaganiyah

by CPT James Few

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Upon my arrival in Iraq in August 2006, Zaganiyah appeared to be a potentially shining example of democratization; a relatively peaceful, heterogeneous mixture of Sunnis and Shias, a robust security force consisting of both local police and Iraqi Army (ISF), and an adequate government representation in both the local Nahiya (County) and Diyala Provisional Councils (GOI). Furthermore, population samples indicated thriving economic metrics, moderate religious leaders, and marginal but improving essential services (A/5-73 Recon Operational Summary, August 2006).

Yet, in the shadows of this overtly optimistic US perspective, a storm of epic proportions brewed as tribal and sectarian differences clashed outside of the Coalition Forces' (CF) purview. By March 2007 Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ), through a series of tactical political and military moves, consolidated control of Zaganiyah governing under the auspices of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a shadow government created as an alternative solution to the US-backed Shia government of Prime Minister Maliki.

AQIZ established its zone of control, effectively killing or displacing 5,000 Shia residents, dissolving the Iraqi Government presence, instituting an Islamic government, and implementing Shar'iah law.

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About the Author(s)

Michael Few is a retired military officer who served multiple combat tours to Iraq including the Thunder Runs and The Surge, and he currently serves as the editor of Small Wars Journal.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and studied small wars at the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA