Special Groups Regenerate
The greatest threat to stability in Iraq is violence by Iranian-backed militias, known as Special Groups. As Coalition and Iraqi Forces refocused their efforts on combating such groups, they launched a number of offensives in the spring of 2008 that left these Iranian-backed networks fractured and brittle. In the wake of these operations, much of the enemy leadership fled to Iran to reconsolidate and retrain. Now, as US Commanders plan for their return, past enemy behavior can help predict the options available to Special Groups.
This report offers a comprehensive look at this pattern as well as current trends in Iranian-backed enemy activity and the likely enemy response. Having consolidated their networks in Iran, it is highly likely that Special Groups will return to Iraq and rebuild their networks, adopting new tactics to escalate violence accordingly. U.S. Forces and their Iraqi counterparts must thwart such actions by continuing to dismantle Special Groups by targeting leaders, financiers, trainers, and facilitators; by preventing Special Groups and JAM from to reestablishing their criminal rings; by continuing to improve the Iraqi Security Forces; and by accelerating reconstruction efforts to improve basic services and reduce popular support for the militia. Disorder and weak government allow Special Groups to operate effectively as a Hezbollah-like organization.