For the second time in as many months, a significant Iraqi town has fallen under the control of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). After the loss of Fallujah in the Anbar Province, this time the town of Sulaiman Pek, north of Baghdad, has fallen.
Mayor Talib Mohammed discussed the fall of his town, whilst still trapped in a building, saying that AQI took over overnight, and he and other residents woke up to the mosque’s loudspeakers announcing the town is now part of the “Islamic State of Iraq.”
While the fall of Fallujah was enormous news both because of the city’s size and history as a battleground during the US occupation, Sulaiman Pek is only about 25,000 and remote, about 100 miles from Baghdad and in the hinterland between Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, and so will likely be easier for the Maliki government to just shrug off.
The town’s primary value to the government, or to AQI for that matter, is that it lies along the primary highway between Baghdad and the oil rich city of Kirkuk. AQI has been keen in Syria to use such towns to cut off supply lines for government forces, and the fall of Sulaiman Pek suggests they’re planning along those lines in Iraq as well.