Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fallujah III and Ramadi II?

Whatever happened to Fallujah anyway? Remember, last November everyone was all bent out fo shape about an Itlaian TV report that said the US had used White Phosphorous on civilians during the previous year's all out assault?

Since then, there has been very little coming out of Fallujah. After the US got done leveling about two thirds of the city of 300,000, they went about cutting it off from the rest of the country with check points, road blocks and a ban on all vehicles entering or leaving. Biometric ID cards were issued to every citizen and supossedly Fallujah was then secure for rebuilding. Since then, not much rebuilding has gone on because, in part, the Shiite-led government decided they didn't want to waste money reconstructing the epicenter of the Sunni insurgency.

The US military has moved on to Ramadi, the captial of Anbar province, where the US Marines have fought the insurgency to a standstill over the past year or so. According to the AP today, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, a senior commander in Anbar, says the marines have been "stifling" the insurgency but don't have enough troops to really defeat them. But as far as the job they're there to do, train the Iraqi police, he's got enough he says, about 30,000. So we're A-Okay as far as training the police, but as far as really getting after the insurgents -- not so much.

This is a very old story. Just a few months ago there was a big push in Ramadi to seal of the city and get a handle on the situation, but to no avail. In Feb. of 2005 the Marines have tried this, too, and it didn't work. The idea that you can't bomb your way to democracy seems to be getting through.

The WaPo reported earlier this week that:

"The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there."

This may be a hopeful sign that a change in strategy is coming -- or not:

Dahr Jamail reports in Asia Times Online that, "After enduring two major assaults, Fallujah, a key city in the western province al-Anbar, is under threat from US forces again." Jamail quotes a Fallujah resident, Ahmed Dhahy, who says, "They destroyed our city twice and they are threatening us a third time. They want us to do their job for them and turn in those who target them."

Jamail writes that:

Dhahy says, "'Last week, the Americans used loudspeakers on the backs of their tanks and Humvees to threaten us.' Residents said the US forces warned of a 'large military operation' if fighters were not handed over. A US military spokesman in Baghdad said he had no reports of such action. . . 'The Iraqi resistance has not stopped for a single day despite the huge US Army activities,' a city police captain said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'The wise men of the city explained to US officials that it is impossible to stop the resistance by military operations, but it seems the Americans prefer to do it the hard way.'"


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