Dahr Jamail: The Ongoing War on Truth in Iraq
The Ongoing War on Truth in Iraq
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 18 April 2006
The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows ... We are today not far from a disaster.
-- T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia), The Sunday Times, August 1920
On Monday, April 17, my sources in Baghdad reported fierce fighting in the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of the capital city, as well as fighting in the al-Dora neighborhood. One source, who lives in the predominantly Sunni area of Adhamiya, had been telling me the situation was disintegrating for days leading up to this. There had been clashes every day for four days leading up to yesterday's huge clash there, with sporadic fighting between Sunni resistance fighters and members of the two largest Shia militias. The armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Badr Organization, and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army have been launching ongoing attacks against fighters in the neighborhood. There is a shorter version of this description.
Yet we don't hear it described as such in the corporate media, nor from the Cheney administration. Their propaganda insists that Iraq is not yet in a civil war.
But in Adhamiya, every night now for several weeks roads have been closed with tires, trunks of date palm trees and other objects to prevent "kidnappers and Shia death squads" from entering the area, according to one source, whom I'm keeping anonymous for security reasons.
His description of the fierce fighting in his neighborhood is quite different from the reporting of it in mainstream outlets.
"Sunday night at 12:30 a.m. clashes started just like on the four previous nights, but it was very heavy and from different directions. It was different from the other nights in quantity and quality; it was truly like the hell which I haven't seen even in the battles of the war between Iraq and Iran during the eighties," wrote my source. He added that mortars and rocket-propelled grenades were used, and so much ammunition that the sky was "glowing red." The situation went on until Monday morning. He said, "I usually have my cup of coffee in my small backyard to drink it in a good atmosphere, but the minute I opened the door someone from the interior ministry commandos shouted at me, telling me to get inside or he'd shoot me. Of course I stayed inside and the shooting continued in a very heavy way until 12:30 p.m., when the American forces came to start helping the militia's attack on al-Adhamiya after they were watching the scene from their helicopters."
He went on to state very clearly that "these were members of the Badr militia and Sadr's Mehdi Army who were raiding the neighborhood."
Another witness at the scene wrote, "Men in police uniforms attacked the neighbourhood. The Ministry of Interior claimed the uniformed men don't belong to the puppet [Iraqi government] forces, but local residents are quite sure they are special-forces from the Ministry of Interior, probably Badr brigades. The neighbourhood was sealed off and the mobile phone network was disconnected until 10:45 p.m. Electricity was cut off from 10 a.m. on."
Meanwhile, Reuters obediently parroted the US military by reporting that "Insurgents mount bold attack in Baghdad," and saying, "About 50 insurgents mounted a brazen attack on Iraqi forces in Baghdad on Monday, prompting U.S. troops to provide support in a battle that lasted seven hours, a U.S. military spokesman said. The guerrillas attacked Iraqi forces in the mostly Sunni Arab district of Adhamiya in northern Baghdad overnight. Five rebels were killed and one member of the Iraqi forces was wounded. There were no U.S. casualties, said the spokesman."
While this press report quoted an Iraqi police official as saying, "Adhamiya residents have taken up arms to prevent the Shi'ite militia from entering," and "Adhamiya residents said Shi'ite militiamen accompanied the Iraqi forces," it added that this could not be confirmed.
An Iraqi in Adhamiya confirmed this immediately after the clashes ended by writing, "When the uniformed forces entered the neighbourhood, the National Guards that are usually patrolling the streets left. Young armed men from the neighbourhood fought side by side with mujahedin against the attacking forces to protect Al-Adhamiya. Several residents have been killed in the streets, but there are currently no figures available. US troops also entered the neighbourhood. At first, they only stood by and watched; later on they, too, fired at the locals, who tried to repel the attacks. Later in the day, rumours circulated that another fierce attack of Al-Adhamiya is planned on Wednesday, but ... couldn't confirm this information."
Other news outlets directly contradict the aforementioned statement by the US military spokesman, when one reported that "gunmen clashed with residents in Baghdad's Aadhamiya district."
Of course, the military spokesman also failed to mention that on the same day, "Four gunmen attacked a Sunni mosque killing a guard in the Adhamiya district of the capital."
Instead, we hear reporting that "[US] Army officials said they had suffered no casualties, and plan to raid homes in search for the gunmen."
Disturbingly, this obvious US-backed Shia militia invasion of a Sunni neighborhood may well be a prelude to what the US military is calling a "second liberation of Baghdad" which they will carry out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.
The Sunday Times reports that US commanders both in Iraq and at an army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are planning a "carrot-and-stick" approach by offering suffering populations "protection" from sectarian violence in exchange for "rooting out insurgent groups or Al-Qaeda."
Sound like mafia tactics to you?
The article states that "Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops. Helicopters suitable for urban warfare, such as the manoeuvrable AH-6 "Little Birds" ... are likely to complement the ground attack."
This is disturbingly similar to what just occurred in al-Adhamiya.
Another glaring example of the Cheney administration/US military's ongoing war on truth in Iraq is the open wound which is Fallujah.
Heavy-handed assaults by the US military continue in Fallujah, where as recently as this Monday three Iraqi civilians were killed, along with 10 wounded in the Jebail district of the city. Of the 10 wounded, three were women and two were children. According to Mustafa Karim, with an Iraqi security force in the city, "US forces fired on houses in the district following confrontations with armed groups in the vicinity." Karim added that residents of Fallujah have been demanding an easing of the tight security procedures imposed by Iraqi and US armed forces on the region since November 2004, which have obstructed the passage of civilians into and out of the region, and "Fallujah has been recently witnessing a renewed escalation of armed confrontations between US forces and armed Iraqi groups."
In fact, fierce fighting in Fallujah has been ongoing since just a few months after the November 2004 US attack, which destroyed most buildings and homes in the city of 350,000 people.
But the US military doesn't want people to see that American soldiers are dying there on nearly a daily basis as of late. Rather than calling it Fallujah when soldiers die there, they prefer a sort of Bermuda Triangle approach and use "Al-Anbar Province" for the location of these deaths.
Let's have a brief glance at some soldiers killed recently in "Al-Anbar Province":
* April 17, Department of Defense (DOD) announced (hyperlink 'announced' with http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2006/nr20060417-12834.html ) the death of a Marine who "died April 14 from a non-hostile motor vehicle accident in Al-Anbar province, Iraq."
* April 16, CENTCOM announced: "Camp Fallujah, Iraq - A Marine ... died due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 15."
* April 16, Camp Fallujah, Iraq - Multi-National Forces (MNF) Iraq announced: "Three Marines ... died due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 15."
* April 15, Camp Fallujah, Iraq - MNF Iraq announced: "Two Marines died and 22 were wounded due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 13 ... Ten wounded Marines ... were evacuated to a medical facility at Camp Fallujah."
* April 15, DOD announced: "four Marines died April 15 when their HMMWV struck an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq."
* April 11, DOD announced: "Lance Cpl. Juana NavarroArellano, 24 ... died April 8 from wounds received while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq."
* April 10, Camp Fallujah, Iraq - CENTCOM announced: "A soldier ... died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 8."
* April 10, Camp Fallujah, Iraq - CENTCOM announced: "Two soldiers ... died due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 9."
* April 8, Camp Fallujah, Iraq - MNF Iraq announced: "A Marine ... died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in al Anbar Province April 7."
Note the clue that several of these are issued from "Camp Fallujah, Iraq."
This is hardly a complete list of US soldiers killed in Fallujah, and some of the aforementioned may not have actually been killed inside that city. However, military announcements of the deaths of soldiers in other places mention the name of specific cities, whether they occur in Samarra or Tal Afar or elsewhere.
Obviously the US military is being intentionally vague when it comes to their admittance of losing American soldiers within the city limits of Fallujah. An email I received Monday from one of my sources in Fallujah sheds much light as to why this is the case, not only in Fallujah, but throughout Iraq.
"Resistance [in Fallujah] is very active and all the destruction to the city by American soldiers did not succeed to stop them. You know the city was totally destroyed in the November attack and is still surrounded and closed for anyone other than citizens of the city. What is going on now is that the Americans are trying to conceal their failure here by not letting anybody in. There were at least five explosions today and more than one clash between resistance fighters and US soldiers. So all the military procedures, together with the thousands of casualties, were in vain. In short, the American Army seems to be losing control in this country and God knows what they will do in revenge. I expect the worst to come."
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who spent over 8 months reporting from occupied Iraq. He presented evidence of US war crimes in Iraq at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York City in January 2006. He writes regularly for TruthOut, Inter Press Service, Asia Times and TomDispatch, and maintains his own web site, dahrjamailiraq.com.