Saturday, December 17, 2005

Fallujah is reaching a new boiling point

Hala Jaber, of the Sunday Times reports that Fallujah is the epicenter of a new militant insurgency. Failure of the Iraqi and US governments to provide the promised reconstruction after the November 2004, US assault (Operation Phantom Fury), has caused the civilian population to cast their support behind the insurgents.

Stoking the anger has been the slow pace of compensation payments, despite the allocation of $490m by Iraq’s interim government last year.
Dr Hafid al-Dulaimi, head of the city’s compensation commission, reported that 36,000 homes and 8,400 shops were destroyed in the US onslaught.
Sixty nurseries and schools and 65 mosques and other religious establishments were wrecked. Falluja’s mayor, Dhari abdel Hadi al-Irssan, claims that only 20% of the compensation promised has reached the city

Residents of Fallujah risk being robbed by Iraqi troops.

One woman was driving home with $2,000 she had just received as compensation for losing her home when she was stopped and robbed by Iraqi troops. She has filed a formal complaint. Another man lost $3,500 in a similar incident.
Yet even these deprivations pale by comparison with the fatalities Falluja families claim to have suffered at the hands of occupying forces. Witnesses spoke of American Marines dumping bodies in the Euphrates just after the offensive and of mass graves where hundreds are allegedly buried.

The insurgents are still in Fallujah and gathering support. They are also reorganizing differently.

... "The new resistance that has been forming in Falluja is one that will be characterised by revenge and settling scores,” the commander of one fundamentalist faction explained.
“As well as fighting the occupation, its aim will include avenging . . . the crimes committed by the so-called (Iraqi) forces in the period after the offensives,” he said.
The commander claimed that US and Iraqi troops had “violated the sanctity of homes, families and even religion . . . The arrests of thousands of men mean that every home now has suffered the loss or detention of at least one of its males”.
Having melted away in the face of earlier US onslaughts, the resistance has learnt to organise itself differently. Another faction commander added: “Groups and cells are being formed but, unlike in the past, the hierarchy and leadership will be difficult to track.”.

US military commanders in Fallujah admit that there is growing sympathy for the insurgency. If the US doesn't bring it under control by rebuilding the city quickly, Fallujah will erupt, as all fermenting insurgencies do, with more strength than 13 months ago.

Read the whole article here.

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