January 11, 2005

What Really Happened In Falluja?

Death and destruction in FallujaAli Fadhil has seen the reality of what is left in Falluja almost two months to the day since the US assault began. A once modern city lies in ruins; possibly never to be inhabited fully again. Its citizens are now dead or scattered as refugees, bodies rot in the streets and rabid dogs roam free. Yet of the 1200 fighters supposedly killed by American forces, only 76 are accounted for and of the dead still lying where they fell, many are obviously citizens. Perhaps because all the fighters left before the assault began! Falluja was supposed to be about improving the security situation in Iraq ahead of the general elections. In fact what the assault has done is brought forward an almost inevitable civil war - the Shia Iraqi troops used to search house to house are hated by the Sunni population. Indeed, in large parts of Iraq the puppet interim government is blamed as much as the Americans for the worsening daily violence. Fadhil's piece begs the question: what was Falluja really about? Securing peace ahead of elections that would bring "freedom and democracy" to Iraq? Or perhaps it was really about controlling the message and ensuring religious clerics could and would not take part in the elections. After all, what is the point in invading a country if the citizens don't then go and vote for your stooges? Moreover, why was the first port of call the city's hospital and not the insurgency strong-holds? Why were the doctors tied up and their lines of communication cut if it were not to ensure that the truth of the devastation to come was not broadcast to the world? It all points to the suspicion that the Americans used a sledgehammer to crack a nut in Falluja. Perhaps as always suspected, they're not prepared to engage in the long-haul of nation building. After all the oil fields are secured - they were on day one. The rest is just a PR exercise.