Morning Report: October 3, 2005

CENTCOM: Iron Fist a success. Stratfor (subscription) reports: 'U.S. Central Command on Oct. 3 announced that several successful engagements against insurgents in Anbar province occurred during the first day of an offensive to route out jihadist and Sunni nationalist insurgents located by the Syrian border. Operation Iron Fist began Oct. 1 against insurgents around Sadah, Iraq, with U.S. Marines from Regimental Combat Team-2 backed by air support from the 2nd Marine Air Wing engaging terrorists in combat. The operation is part of a larger offensive in Anbar province known as Operation Hunter, which is taking place along the Euphrates River valley.' (Stratfor)

Belmont Club on Iron Fist. Wretchard returns after a few days' absence with this analysis of Iron Fist, concluding: 'After the Marines anchored their western defense on Fallujah in November 2004 they have been steadily creeping westward within the riverine zone along the Euphrates. The latest efforts to secure Ramadi means they can move the Iraqi training center from Habbaniyah westward to Ramadi; and the probable objective is to extend the writ of the Iraqi government until it reaches Rawah. In the meantime, Task Force Olympia, with the 11th ACR and the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (including Michael Yon's 1st BN, 24th Infantry "Deuce Four") has been campaigning in Mosul along the Tigris. Therefore, returning to the New York Times account, whether Zarqawi decides "to send the foreigners south to Baghdad or north across the desert to Mosul" he will be running into hard stops and harassed in all the intervening ground. If the US is successful, it will greatly reduce the insurgency's prospects of holding out against the government.' (Belmont Club)

Debka: Egyptian al-Qaeda in striking range of Israel, Suez, Jordan. Debka reports: 'Al Qaeda has established local terror networks in northern Sinai – centering on el Arish, as well as strongholds in the inaccessible central mountains of the peninsula around Jebel Hillal. In all, the jihadists control roughly one-fifth of Sinai total area (61,000sq. km or 23,500sq. miles). Egyptian forces of law and order have learned not to venture into these bastions or into the areas commanded by age-old smuggler clans who currently collaborate with al Qaeda. This leaves about half of the forbidding desert peninsula inaccessible to Egyptian security forces. Today, they can only claim to control the main roads routes fringing the vast desert expanse: from Ras Sudeir down to Sharm el Sheikh along the Suez Canal and Suez Gulf shores; from the Suez Canal east to El Arish along the Mediterranean shore and from the Sharm el-Sheikh resort center north along the Gulf of Aqaba to Taba and the Israeli port of Eilat. ... the only way for Egypt to wrest mastery of the Sinai heartland from the terrorists is by a combined aerial bombardment coupled with helicopter landings of at least two special forces brigades. This in present circumstances is not feasible because - 1. The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty demilitarizing Sinai precludes Egyptian air force operations. In theory, Cairo can approach Jerusalem for permission, but in practice this would expose the Mubarak government to widespread Muslim opprobrium for collaborating with the Jewish state in the war against Islamic terror. 2. Egyptian intelligence does not have an exact count of the anti-air missiles in al Qaeda’s hands. The passage of a quantity of these weapons from Sinai to the Gaza Strip leads Egyptian intelligence to deduce a fairly sizeable number – enough to cause havoc with a helicopter commando drop. 3. Al Qaeda’s smuggling routes crisscross Sinai day and night, freely plied by fighters, weapons, explosives and food. These routes exploit the peninsula’s exceptional geography to run between Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and of late the Gaza Strip. ... 4. That al Qaeda has established a presence in the Gaza Strip is no longer a matter of speculation. Today, Israeli military intelligence AMAN and the Shin Beit are taking the new manifestation of Al Qaeda-Palestine as an offshoot of Al Qaeda-Sinai with the utmost seriousness. Foreign terrorists have been detected entering the Gaza Strip, welcomed and integrated in to the logistical infrastructures of Hizballah, Hamas, Jihad Islami and the Popular Fronts.' Full article, with map, at link. (Debka)

"Communism is bad for business." Discarded Lies reports on an astonishing discovery: 'Hong Kong has become less competitive, with political concerns helping to drag it down seven places to rank 28 in an annual worldwide table, according to the latest Global Competitiveness Report drawn up by the World Economic Forum.' Not only that, but 'China slipped three notches from last year, to 49th spot, the ranking of 117 economies shows.' Could it possibly have something to do with communism? Well, Taiwan ranks #5 on the list. Go read Evariste at the link. (Discarded Lies)

Dawn Patrol. Don't miss Holly Aho's latest installment of Dawn Patrol at the Mudville Gazette.