[News] Ramadi: Fallujah Redux

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 14 13:46:35 EDT 2006


  Ramadi: Fallujah Redux
     By Dahr Jamail
     t r u t h o u t | Perspective

     Monday 12 June 2006

     Fearful residents are now pouring out of Ramadi after the US 
military has been assaulting the city for months with tactics like 
cutting water, electricity and medical aid, imposing curfews, and 
attacking by means of snipers and random air strikes. This time, 
Iraqis there are right to fear the worst - an all out attack on the 
city, similar to what was done to nearby Fallujah.

     It has always been just a matter of time before the US military 
would finally get around to destroying Ramadi, the capital city of 
al-Anbar province. After all, Ramadi is not far from Fallujah, and so 
similar to Fallujah both tribally and in their disdain towards the 
idea of being occupied, that many people in Ramadi even refer to 
Fallujah as "Ramadi." I know many people from Ramadi who lost 
relatives and friends during both US assaults on Fallujah, and the 
level of anti-American sentiment has always been high there.

     By now, we all know the scene when the US military in Iraq 
decides to attack an entire city ... we've seen this standard 
operating procedure repeated, to one degree or another, in Haditha, 
Al-Qa'im, Samarra, parts of Baghdad, Balad, Najaf and Fallujah twice 
... so far. The city is sealed for weeks if not months, water and 
electricity are cut, medical aid is cut, curfews imposed, mobility 
impaired, air strikes utilized, then the real attack begins. Now in 
Ramadi, the real attack has begun.

     Warplanes are streaking the sky as bombings increase, 
loudspeakers aimed into the city warn civilians of a "fierce 
impending attack," (even though it has already begun), and thousands 
of families remain trapped in their homes, just like in Fallujah 
during both attacks on that city. Again, many who remain in the city 
cannot afford to leave because they are so poor, or they lack 
transportation, or they want to guard their home because it is all 
they have left.

     Sheikh Fassal Guood, a former governor of al-Anbar said of the 
situation, "The situation is catastrophic. No services, no 
electricity, no water." He also said, "We know for sure now that 
Americans and Iraqi commanders have decided to launch a broad 
offensive any time now, but they should have consulted with us."

     Today, a man who lives in Fallujah and who recently visited 
Ramadi told me, "Any new government starts with a massacre. That 
seems like the price that we Iraqis must pay, especially in the Sunni 
areas. Ramadi has been deprived of water, electricity, telephones and 
all services for about two months now. US and government forces 
frankly told people of Ramadi that they will not get any services 
unless they hand over 'the terrorists!!' Operations started last 
week, but it seems that the Marines are facing some problems in a 
city that is a lot bigger in area than Fallujah. (Ramadi also has at 
least 50,000 more residents than Fallujah.) Killing civilians is 
almost a daily process done by snipers and soldiers in US armored 
vehicles. The problem that makes it even more difficult for the 
Ramadi people than for those of Fallujah back in 2004 is that they 
cannot flee to Baghdad, because there they'll face the government 
militia assassinations. Nevertheless, the US Army is telling them to 
evacuate the city. On the other hand, the government and the US Army 
made it clear that they will bring militias to participate in the 
wide attack against the city. The UN and the whole world are silent 
as usual, and nobody seems to care what is going to happen in Ramadi."

     Thus, the stage was set and now Iraqis brace themselves for yet 
another staggeringly high civilian body count in Ramadi. This, amidst 
recent news from the Department of Defense that over $19 million has 
been paid out in compensation by the US military in Iraq to families 
who have had loved ones killed by US troops. The average payout is 
$2,500 per body, and nearly half of the $19 million was paid out in 
the province of al-Anbar. Reflective of the drastically increased 
levels of violence in Iraq, the total amount of compensation payouts 
for 2005 is nearly four times what it was the previous year.  [$19 
million divided by $2,500 equals 7,600 civilians killed by US forces 
in 2005. -F]

     The fact that the 1,500 US troops who were recently brought into 
Iraq, specifically to Ramadi, went unreported by most, if not all, 
corporate media outlets didn't come as a surprise to the residents of 
Ramadi, however, as street battles between troops and resistance 
fighters have been raging for months now.

     The media blackout on Ramadi is already rivaling the blackout on 
the draconian measures employed by the military during the November 
2004 siege of Fallujah, if not surpassing it. Thus far, the military 
have remained reluctant to allow even embedded reporters to travel 
with them in Ramadi. With each passing US assault on an Iraqi city, 
the media blackout grows darker - and with Ramadi, it is the darkest yet.

     Most of what we have, aside from sporadic reports from sources 
inside the besieged city, is propaganda from the US military 
spokesman in Baghdad, Major Todd Breasseale, who only spoke of moving 
the newly arrived 1,500 troops in from Kuwait into positions around 
Ramadi. "Moving this force will allow tribal leaders and government 
officials to go about the very difficult task of taking back their 
towns from the criminal elements."

     Similar to Fallujah, thousands of frightened residents of Ramadi 
are fleeing the city, then being turned away from entering Baghdad. 
With no tents, food, or aid of any kind being provided to them by the 
military, which is a war crime, they are left with nothing but what 
they carry and no place to go. These refugees are now adding to the 
horrific statistic of over 100,000 displaced families within Iraq, 
the majority of whom are so as the result of massive US military 
operations which have a tendency to make entire cities unlivable.

     Reports from sources within Ramadi for weeks now have been that 
US soldiers have been inhabiting people's homes in order to use their 
rooftops as sniper platforms, innocent people are being shot daily, 
and people are confused - do they risk leaving and having nowhere to 
go, or risk staying in their homes and possibly being killed?

     Hassan Zaidan Lahaibi, a member of the Council of 
Representatives in the Iraqi parliament, told reporters recently, "If 
things continue, we will have a humanitarian crisis. People are 
getting killed or wounded, and the rest are just migrating aimlessly."

     He could just as easily be describing much of the rest of Iraq, 
where the majority of people struggle to survive under the weight of 
an increasingly brutal occupation, US-backed death squads, sectarian 
militias, staggering unemployment and a devastated infrastructure.

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