By Dahr Jamail
17 September, 2005
the last several days at least 6,000 US soldiers along with approximately
4,000 Iraqi soldiers (Read-members of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia
Badr Army) were laying siege to the city of Tal-Afar, near Mosul in
northern Iraq. It is estimated that 90% of the residents have left their
homes because of the violence and destruction of the siege, as well
as to avoid home raids and snipers.
The Fallujah model
is being applied yet again, albeit on a smaller scale. I havent
received any reports yet of biometrics being used (retina scans, finger
printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are
other striking similarities to the tactics used in November.
While the US military
claims to have killed roughly 200 terrorists in the operation,
reports from the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city
had long since left to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming
military force (a basic tenet of guerrilla warfare).
Again like Fallujah,
most of the families who fled are staying in refugee camps outside the
city in tents amidst horrible conditions in the inferno-like heat of
the Iraqi summer.
The LA Times reported
that Ezzedin Dowla, a Turkmen leader in the area said, Families
are homeless and the government has not provided any shelter, food or
drink for them. Nor has the US military.
The targets of this
military operation are the Sunni Turkmen who are politically on the
side of the Sunni Arabs. Most Sunnis will be voting against the constitution
during the coming vote of October, 15th.
The Cheney Administration
is desperate for something it can spin as good news from
Iraq; thus, it most certainly behooves them to have the referendum on
the constitution to boast about. But in order to do so, the voting ability
and power of the Sunni (and Sunni Turkmen) must be severely compromised,
as well as punishment meted out for rightfully assuming what will be
a Sunni no-vote on the constitution.
Both the Cheney
Administration and its current puppet-government in Iraq benefit from
destroying the voting (and living) ability of the majority of people
in the Sunni triangle, so we have the operation in Tal-Afar,
most likely to be followed by similar operations in Al-Qaim, Haditha,
Samarra, and possibly more.
In Tal-Afar, the
propaganda spewed by the US military (and Iraqi government)
was that the operation was to fight terrorists coming into Iraq via
Syria. If that were true, why did the US military remove troops from
the border with Syria who were supposed to be preventing infiltration
by foreign fighters? Instead of guarding the border, as they should,
they engaged in the operation against Iraqi Sunni Turkmen. Working in
unison, the US military launched the heavy-handed attack with the authorization
of Prime Minister Ibrahm Jaafari, the leader of the Shia Dawa Party.
Jaafari even went so far as to venture to Tal-Afar on Tuesday to visit
troops and have his photograph taken.
was given by the Iraqi government for the attack on Tal-Afar, just as
authorization was given by then interim Prime Minister Iyad
Allawi for the November, 2004 massacre in Fallujah. Authorization,
when the US military would never, ever allow any foreign power jurisdiction
over American forces, least of all a puppet government.
Azzaman media in Tal-Afar miraculously made it into the city and reported
that residents are disputing reports that US and Iraqi soldiers have
killed scores of insurgents. Like Fallujah, these residents
of Tal-Afar are reporting that most of the people killed were civilians
who had no place to go so they chose to stay in their homes. People
also stayed because they feared persecution at the hands of the Peshmerga
and Badr Army.
I recently interviewed
an Iraqi man from that area at the Peoples UN conference in Perugia,
Italy. He told me, Most people in Mosul and Tal-Afar would rather
be detained by the Americans now, because they know if Iraqi soldiers
or Iraqi police detain them they will be tortured severely, and possibly
killed. This gives you an idea of how bad it is with these Iraqi soldiers,
even in the shadow of what the Americans are still doing in Abu Ghraib.
As for foreign
fighters, one of the Azzaman correspondents quoted a resident
of Tal-Afar as saying, We used to hear (from news reports) of
the presence of some Arab (foreign) fighters in the city, but we have
seen none of them.
Life in Iraq remains
a living hell. Blood flowed in the streets of Khadamiya yesterday as
a horrendous car bomb killed 112 people in the predominantly Shia neighborhood.
And once again, calls of solidarity were made from the nearby Sunni
neighborhood of Adhamiya and residents emerged from their homes to help
their brothers and sisters across the river, just as they did after
the panic and chaos which recently took the lives of nearly 1,000 Shia.
The horrendous totals
from yesterday were 160 dead, 570 wounded Iraqis as the result of the
string of attacks and at least a dozen car bombs. The blowback from
the Jafaari authorized state-sponsored terrorism in Tal-Afar
took little time to materialize in the capital city.
If Jafaari was more
honest with his press appearances, along with his photo-op in Tal-Afar
he should have had his photo taken amidst the charred, smoking body
parts strewn about the streets of Khadamiya, which was a result (albeit
just as horrific) of his Tal-Afar authorization.
On that note, Jalal
Talabani, Iraqs puppet president, was in a press conference in
Washington D.C. with Mr. Bush just hours before the blowback began.
Meanwhile, one of
my friends in Baghdad writes me, Dear Dahr, how are you dear pal?
I am very sorry for what happened after Hurricane Katrina. It is a real
tragedy. I hope none of your friends or family was affected. It is a
tragedy which makes one speechless.
This when he goes
to work each day hoping to make it home alive to see his wife and newborn
And another of my
friends in Baghdad wrote me recently, Im so sorry that I
didnt email you the previous days
the situation in Tal-Afar
has become so much worse for the people. It is terrible what is going
on there and nobody can say anything because as usual the military operation
is still going on and they are trying to keep all the media out. They
have also started another operation in another area of Al-Anbar province
and they will soon start one in Samarra.
My interpreter when
Im in Iraq, Abu Talat, has been willing to take the risk of working
with me there. To give you an idea of the lengths hes willing
to go to, he gave me the green light to come to Iraq last November,
just before the massacre in Fallujah began. It is safe to say times
were quite tense then, with kidnappings and beheadings having long since
become the norm.
of Defense is threatening not only Fallujah but all of the Ramadi Governorate,
I can tell you very surely about that, he wrote in a recent email
to me and a colleague who was hoping to enter Iraq to work as a reporter.
(Today, US warplanes began dropping bombs inside the city of Ramadi.)
No one can
support you working here. We are having a very critical situation. For
this reason, I think that coming to Iraq in this critical time is not
accepted. I was very, very welcoming to any of your friends, Dahr, but
not in this time. Sorry, but for your own safety. Take good care of
Today at least 30
more Iraqis have died in violence across their occupied country and
it will only continue to worsen.