Firas Al-Atraqchi: Will Falluja Be Leveled?
Will Falluja Be Leveled?
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
The men of the restive city of Falluja are not afraid. Speaking to reporters they egg the US soldiers on. "Come into our city and we will show them what we are made of," they say. "They have tanks and planes but are cowards, we will fight till there are none of us left," others say.
The people of Fallujah are expecting the worst. They know the US military will not allow itself to be humiliated in the manner of last week's mutilation and hanging of four killed US mercenaries working for the private security firm Blackwater. They know the US military will not allow the daily attacks on convoys to go unpunished. A few hours before the horrific mutilations and lynching, five US soldiers died when a powerful improvised explosive device ripped their armored personnel carrier apart.
And the US military is edging for a fight. On Monday morning, US forces closed off the Iraq-Amman highway which leads through Falluja. Reporters attempting to enter the city have told this writer that they were told by US officers that the area surrounding Falluja - and the city itself - is off-limits to reporters, a restrictive zone, expected to be closed down for anywhere between two to 10 days.
Iraq analysts fear that the US is about to commit a war-crime by laying siege to Falluja and punishing its citizens by disallowing shipments of food and water. With no independent reports from Falluja, Iraq analysts warn the world could be kept in the dark about scores of civilians likely to be caught in military confrontation between US forces and Iraqi resistance.
Coalition authorities have promised a swift and precise response to last week's mutilations of four contract servicemen who were ambushed in central Falluja. However, in media reports filed before the city was cordoned off, angry Iraqis claimed that it was US policy in the area that fueled their anger. Among their complaints:
Mounting of the foot over the neck of Iraqis - an affront in Iraqi society The detaining of Iraqi women and teenage girls The house searches well into the dead of night, using shock bombs, threats, and verbal abuse The returning of detained women, often barely clothed The killing of civilians by US forces with no assumption of responsibility or guilt Iraq is entering a perilous phase as Iraqis begin to realise that the freedom they were promised was a thinly-veiled farce aimed at extorting the country of its mineral and oil wealth. There is open revolt in the south of Iraq where the young cleric Muqtada Sadr has declared that negotiating and/or exercising democratic tools like protests and demonstrations has not worked with the Coalition. His Mahdi Army has seized several police stations throughout the south of Iraq. US forces retaliated by seizing a Sadr office in Kirkuk.
As the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad arrives, the fall of Iraq into absolute anarchy seems imminent.