Finds A False Peace
By Ali al-Fadhily
29 August, 2007
Inter Press Service
FALLUJAH, Aug 28 (IPS) - Fallujah is quiet these days.
After all the fighting and destruction of 2004, U.S. and Iraqi forces
call this success. Many residents are not so sure.
Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad, produced some of the strongest resistance
yet to U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators. These forces led two
severe assaults on the city, in April and November of 2004. Three-quarters
of the city was destroyed, massive numbers of people were killed.
There has been little by
way of reconstruction.
The city sees no more of
the kind of resistance attacks of old, and no more of the 2004 kind
of crackdown. "We are so happy that our city is peaceful and quiet
after all the battling that killed thousands of our citizens,"
a captain in the local police force of Fallujah, speaking on condition
of anonymity, told IPS. "We can patrol the streets without fear
now, and arrest any person that we suspect to be a terrorist."
There has been a good deal
of this, residents say. Hundreds of suspected resistance fighters are
now held at the Fallujah police station. Many have been killed on the
streets; the police speak of finding "unidentified bodies".
Several of those found dead
had been arrested earlier, eyewitnesses and families of several of the
men killed have said.
"This is fascist behaviour
that shows the brutality of the Americans and the so-called Iraqi government,"
a former member of the Fallujah city council who asked to be referred
to as Mahmood told IPS. "Those young guys were executed without
any trial. This brutality was not known in our city before this occupation
Journalists inside the city
are also quiet after a few of them were arrested and held for several
One of the detained journalists
spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity. Visibly shaken, he said that
a major in the Fallujah police force had told him that freedom of the
media had been misused and that the police would not allow it any more.
He said the major told him that "the news you transmit to the world
will be what we tell you, not what you pick up from the street".
Residents speak of other
reasons why the city is relatively quiet.
"But of course the city
is quiet," Rahemm Othman, a high school teacher, told IPS. "They
are banning car movement, and that would make it as quiet as the dead.
We are being subjected to slow death here, and the world is so happy
about it." The local police and the U.S. military banned car movement
Everything is costlier as
a result. "A jar of propane gas costs over 20 dollars, and the
groceries are too much for us to afford," Um Muhammad, a mother
of four whose husband was detained four months ago told IPS. "I
have no income, and people who used to help me are not able to do so
any more. Everybody is getting poor because people cannot go to work."
Medical services also continue
to suffer under the vehicle ban. Doctors at Fallujah General Hospital
told IPS that the government in Baghdad is not supplying them with medicines
and medical equipment.
"The officials of the
Ministry of Health tell us we are terrorists, and so we do not deserve
their support," a doctor said. "As if they own Iraqi money
and it is up to them whether to give it or not."
The Ministry of Health was
headed by Ali al-Shemari from the group of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
until Sadr withdrew from the government Apr. 16.
"To say Fallujah is
quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets," said Shiek
Salim from the Fallujah Scholars' Council. "The city is practically
dead, and the dead are quiet."
One after another, residents
spoke of Fallujah finding the quiet of the dead. The streets are empty
except for the occasional person walking to clinic, or at some of the
few markets still open. Most shops remain closed, others open only a
Residents say unemployment
is above 80 percent. Most of the rest who have some work are government
employees. The huge industrial area has been closed by U.S. and Iraqi
"After sacrificing thousands
of our beloved, Americans and their tails want to kill the rest of us,"
said a 50-year-old woman at the football field that was turned into
a graveyard following the April 2004 U.S. siege of the city, in which
residents say at least 700 were killed.
Intent on demonstrating progress
in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expected
to recommend removing U.S. troops soon from several areas where commanders
claim security has improved, including Fallujah.
But resistance has not died
altogether. Five U.S. soldiers were killed when their helicopter was
shot down Aug. 14 near al-Taqaddum airbase on the outskirts of Fallujah.
At least 20 U.S. soldiers
were killed in al-Anbar province to the west of Baghdad in July, several
of them in Fallujah area. According to the U.S. Department of Defence,
1,257 U.S. soldiers have died in al-Anbar province, more than in any
other Iraqi province.
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