Ramadi caught in US street
fight By Dahr Jamail and Ali
RAMADI, Iraq - US forces are
taking to collective punishment of civilians in
several cities across al-Anbar province west of
Baghdad, residents and officials say.
"Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province,
is still living with the daily terror of its
people getting killed by snipers and its
infrastructure being destroyed," said Ahmad, a
local doctor who withheld his last name for
security purposes. "This city has been facing the
worst of the American terror and destruction for more
two years now, and the world is silent."
Destroying infrastructure and cutting
water and electricity "for days and even weeks is
routine reaction to the resistance", he said.
"Guys of the resistance do not need water and
electricity, it's the families that are being
harmed, and their lives which are at stake."
This month, a classified report written by
the chief of intelligence for the US Marine Corps
in Iraq concluded that the United States had lost
control of Anbar, at least politically.
Students and professors at the University
of Anbar say their campus is under frequent
attack. "Nearly every week we face raids by the
Americans or their Iraqi colleagues," a professor
speaking on condition of anonymity said. Students
said that US troops occupied their school last
"We've been under great pressure
from the Americans since the very first days of
their occupation of Iraq," a student said.
Such raids are being reported all over
Ramadi. "The infrastructure destruction is huge
around the governorate building in downtown
Ramadi," said a 24-year-old student who gave his
name as Ali al-Ani. "And they are destroying the
Inter Press Service (IPS)
reported on September 5 that the US military was
bulldozing entire blocks of buildings near the
governorate to dampen resistance attacks on
government offices. Such US action seems most
severe in Anbar province, where resistance is
strongest, and which has seen the highest US
The city of Hit, 80 kilometers
west of Ramadi, was surrounded by US troops for
several days this week. Several civilians were
killed and at least five were detained by US
forces. Checkpoints are in place at each entrance
to the city after the US military lifted the
cordon around it. This has stifled movement and
damaged local businesses.
"There was an
attack on a US convoy, and three vehicles were
destroyed," a local tribal chief who gave his name
as Nawaf said. "It wasn't the civilians who did
it, but they are the ones punished. These
Americans have the bad habit of cutting all of the
essential services after every attack. They said
they came to liberate us, but look at the slow
death they are giving us every day."
Haditha, a city of 75,000 on the banks of the
Euphrates River in western Anbar, collective
punishment is ongoing, residents say. This was the
site of the massacre of 24 civilians by US marines
"The Americans continue to
raid our houses and threaten us with more
violence," a local tribal leader who gave his name
as Abu Juma'a said. "But if they think they will
make us kneel by these criminal acts, they are
wrong. If they increase the pressure, the
resistance will increase the reaction. We see this
pattern repeated so often now."
added: "I pray that the Americans return to their
senses before they lose everything in the Iraqi
In Fallujah, police say residents
have turned against them because of the
collective-punishment tactics used by US forces.
"The Americans started pushing us to fight the
resistance, despite our contracts that clearly
assigned us the duties of civil protection against
normal crimes such as theft and tribal quarrels,"
a police lieutenant said. "Now, 90% of the force
has decided to quit rather than kill our brothers
or get killed by them for the wishes of the
At least one US vehicle is
reported destroyed every day on average in the
face of mounting US raids and a daily curfew. The
scene is one of destruction of the city, not
"Infrastructure rebuilding is
just a joke that nobody laughs at," said Fayiq
al-Dilaimy, an engineer in Fallujah. He was on the
rebuilding committee set up after the November
2004 US-led operation that destroyed about 75% of
"People of this city could
rebuild their city in six months if given a real
chance," Dilaimy said. "Now look at it and how
sorrowful it looks under the boots of the
Many of the smaller towns
have been badly hit. "Khaldiyah [near Fallujah]
and the area around it have faced the worst
collective punishments for over two years now,"
said a government official in Ramadi. "But of
course most cities in al-Anbar are being
constantly punished by the Americans."
Samarra and Dhululiyah towns, both north
of Baghdad, have also faced collective punishment
from the US military, according to residents.
"Curfews and concrete walls are permanent
in both cities, which makes life impossible," said
Ali al-Bazi, a lawyer who lives in Dhululiyah and
works in Samarra. "There are so many killings by
American snipers. So many families have lost loved
ones trying to visit relatives or even just
stepping outside of their house."
Baghdad is not in Anbar province, occupation
forces have used similar tactics there. In January
2005, IPS reported that the military used
bulldozers to level palm groves, cut electricity,
destroy a fuel station and block access roads in
response to attacks from resistance fighters.
A US military spokesman in Baghdad did not
comment on specific cases, but said the US
military "does its best to protect civilians from