Diyala: Special forces assigned by Prime Minister to impose security face political and tribal challenges

The Iraqi Security forces performing their duties in Baquba, center of Diyala province in March 2023. Ministry of Interior

By Amir Khanaqini in Diyala

The Iraqi Special Forces deployed by order of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, continue their operations throughout Diyala province to arrest hundreds of the suspects for destabilizing security of the province. However, the efforts to restore stability face political and tribal challenges.

The Special Forces deployed in Diyala Governorate on March 9, and within the first three days were able to arrest 196 suspects and wanted, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.

A high-ranking source in the Diyala Police Command told KirkukNow on the condition of anonymity, “Special forces were sent to Diyala by direct order from the Iraqi prime minister, in order to enhance the prestige of the state in the province and impose security in Diyala.”

“I can say that the situation has stabilized with the arrival of these forces.”

The deployment of these forces came after a series of armed attacks targeting civilians in different areas of Diyala, the last of which resulted in the death of eight people from one family, including three women, in the district of Sharban.

The eight people were relatives of the head of the Tamim clan, as the vehicle carrying them was targeted by explosive devices, followed by an armed attack.

The killing of a well-known doctor named Ahmed Talal on February 22 at night in front of his house in the city of Baquba, the center of Diyala governorate, was one of the security incidents that sparked many reactions.

The killing of Dr. Talal came hours after a statement by the Iraqi Prime Minister stressed that he would personally follow up the security file of Diyala Governorate to prevent any attempt to attack citizens and their property.

There is an ongoing struggle between the tribes and clans of Diyala to impose their domination and seize the highest positions in the province, especially the security positions, in addition to the Shiite-Sunni conflict and its impact on the decisions of the provincial administration and the judiciary.

Diyala province is a majority Sunni Arab province, east of Baghdad, on the border with Iran, and home to 1.2 million people.


A picture of the vehicle in which an explosive device exploded on Monday night, later it was attacked by an armed force, killing eight people from one family, including three women, Diyala, March 7, 2023. Exclusively for KirkukNow

At the beginning of this year, changes were made in some security positions of Diyala province which sparked protests and demonstrations by members of the tribes of the region.

These interventions, according to Diyala senior police official, led to security incidents and revenge crimes.

An "ISIS attack and retaliation" in October 2021 resulted in the killing of 23 civilians in two villages belonging to the Sharban district, and this incident is still a matter of controversy, doubts and accusations among the governorate's clans.

"Since the Special Forces arrived, arrest warrants have been executed and hundreds of different weapons, explosives and unlicensed vehicles have been seized," the official in the Diyala Police Command told KirkukNow.

The special forces have been heavily deployed in the areas of Sharban and Baqubah, and they undertake close monitoring at checkpoints and citizens travelling to the province.

"These forces also monitor border points and inspect cargo vehicles that are believed to be transporting smuggled and prohibited materials."

The operations are scheduled to continue next week, "If they continue in this way, the situation will change dramatically and stability will prevail, but it seems that clan and political pressures affect security operations and their results," according to the Diyala police official.

These statements come after the Special Forces on Tuesday evening, March 14, released one of the detainees, who was a former official in the 24th Brigade of the pro-Iran paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces PMF in the governorate and is currently doing business and is close to the Badr Forces.

Video: Transferring the body of Dr. Ahmed Talal to the cemetery

According to information obtained by (KirkukNow), the suspect is from the Tamim clan and is the brother of the Iraqi lawmaker Salah Zaini Al-Tamimi. However, the special forces did not give any explanation about the reason for his arrest and his subsequent release.

The accused was released after a section of the Tamim clan organized a mass gathering against the manner in which the accused was arrested and published his photos during the arrest process. They stressed that "the Special Forces did this to insult him," and demanded his release, which they achieved.

A security source in Diyala says, "There are political and tribal obstacles facing the Special Forces. This is a challenge that must be overcome to restore stability to the province."

The special forces arrived in Khanaqin district and its outskirts during the past two days, and set up checkpoints on the main roads between Khanaqin, Kalar and Jalawla, in cooperation with the army, the PMF and the Khanaqin police.

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