Fallujah's flames rekindled
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail
FALLUJAH - Security has collapsed again in Fallujah, despite United States
Local militias supported by US forces claim to have "cleansed" the city, 70
kilometers to the west of Baghdad, of all insurgency. But the sudden
resignation of the city's chief of police, Colonel Fayssal al-Zoba'i, has
appeared as one recent sign of growing unrest.
Authorities may have controlled the media better than the violence.
"Assassinations never stopped in Fallujah, but the media seem unwilling to
cover the actual situation here," a human-rights activist in Fallujah, speaking
on terms of anonymity given the tense situation, told Inter Press Service
(IPS). "The two bomb
blasts that killed six policemen earlier this month and another two that killed
three on the weekend seem to have terminated the silence."
People in Fallujah say they still suffer despite the relative improvement in
the security situation. "Relative" is the key word because the improvement is
measured against two massive US military operations in 2004 that killed
thousands in the city, and displaced hundreds of thousands.
"Fallujah was slaughtered by the Americans when her people decided to fight,
and then were suffocated when they decided to reduce the fighting against the
occupiers," former intelligence officer Major Ahmed al-Alwani told IPS. "There
was strong resistance against American occupation forces since May 2003, but it
was the Americans who pointed their guns at the innocent civilians and their
"When the American military plans failed, they decided to hire local tribal
militias to do the job for them," Alwani said, referring to the Awakening Group
militia created by the US military. "Those also failed, despite the executions
and the crimes they committed against people."
Many people throughout Iraq complain of the brutality and unlawful behavior of
these Awakening Groups. Members of these groups are paid US$300 per month by
the US military.
IPS talked to Sheikh Wussam al-Hardan, known as the "engineer" of the Awakening
Forces of al-Anbar province. He blamed the Islamic Party for abuses carried out
against civilians in Fallujah. (The Islamic Party - Hizb al-Islami al-Airaqi -
is a Sunni Islamist political party originating from the Arab region. It is
part of the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.)
"We had a very limited role in Fallujah, and the police force was in charge of
all security operations there," Hardan said. "We know that all detentions and
executions were committed in our name, but people of Fallujah now know that it
was the Islamic Party that controlled the police force that was active since
On June 26, a suicide bomber attacked a city council meeting of local tribal
sheikhs affiliated with Awakening Groups and military officials. Three US
Marines, two interpreters and 20 Iraqis died in the attack. Among the Iraqis
killed were the mayor of nearby Karmah town and three leading sheikhs. The sons
of two sheikhs and the brother of the third also died. All were members of the
local Awakening Council, according to US and Iraqi authorities.
"Security events take place all over Iraq and people get killed," Captain Jamal
of the Fallujah police told IPS. "But we wonder why all this huge echo for two
incidents in a city that exiled the US Marines with all their military
According to a survey conducted in March for several news organizations by D3
Systems of Virginia in the US and KA Research Ltd of Istanbul, most Iraqis
blame the US military for the worsening security situation.
The majority of Iraqis surveyed disapproved of US-backed Maliki, most
disapproved of the Iraqi government, and most felt that all occupation forces
should leave Iraq immediately.
The police forces are particularly unpopular. "The police force mainly consists
of young men from surrounding villages who are loyal to their tribal chiefs,"
Rammy al-Rawi, a university student who lives in Fallujah, told IPS. "We
believe it is a fight between the Islamic Party and the Awakening Groups of the
tribes who are both collaborating with the Americans for money and power."
Ali al-Fadhily, IPS's correspondent in Baghdad, works in close
collaboration with Dahr Jamail, IPS's US-based specialist writer on Iraq
who travels extensively in the region.