The Assault on Fallujah
As previously reported on Media Mouse, the assault on Fallujah has begun with attacks on hospitals and mosques in an assault that has been called a ?humanitarian disaster? by the Iraq Red Crescent Society.
Reports of an impending ?humanitarian disaster? came early on in the assault as the United States encircled the city as a way of keeping “insurgents” from entering and leaving the city. It is estimated that half of the city’s population, 150,000 people, have fled. As of November 11, 2004, the United States has not allowed relief officials to deliver much needed food to trapped citizens. Ed Herman, writing for Z Net, has made at apt comparison to the Vietnam-era saying that “we had to destroy the city to save it” arguing that the United States is recklessly using advanced weaponry to and aggressive tactics to pacify the largely civilian population remaining in Fallujah. Concerns over the killing of civilians continue to rise with the United States admitting that many of the Iraqi resistance fighters fled Fallujah before the assault leaving the civilian population to bear the brunt of the assault, carefully ?packaged? by the United States as a way of making Iraq safe for elections although what they are essentially doing is telling Iraqis to either endorse the political process or be killed.
The assault on Fallujah was expected to generate a negative reaction throughout Iraq and the Iraqi government has issued a number of orders to try to control the aftermath of Fallujah both by declaring a period of martial law from now until the election and threatening legal action against Iraqi media that deviates from the official government position.
There has been no attempt to analyze and recognize some of the insurgency?s very real objections, rather they have simply been portrayed as a “foreign” force that has taken over the city with few indigenous elements. By most accounts the battle for Fallujah has had the expected consequences, albeit with less resistance than expected with in the city. Attacks have increased across Iraq with the United States facing increasingly bold attacks in Baghdad and three of Prime Minister Allawi’s relatives have been kidnapped. Perhaps more dangerous than the increase in attacks are the political consequences of the assault. Prominent Sunni clerics have condemned the assault and called for a boycott of the January 2005 elections while many ordinary Iraqis view the assault as yet another example of US aggression without reason. It is also worth pointing out that before the armed resistance in Iraq, there was no talk of Iraqi elections.
Economic Policies another Type of Violence in Iraq
While the daily attacks on US targets and the Iraqis that collaborate them have gotten considerable press attention, relatively little attention has been paid to the dismal state of Iraq’s economy and its potential to hurt large segments of the population. Numerous executive orders signed by former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority L. Paul Bremer have changed Iraq’s economy to facilitate foreign investment at the expense of the Iraqi people. In the west there have been attempts to try to undo the corporate takeover of Iraq, with a recent civil disobedience action leading to a lawsuit that will challenge the privatization of Iraq by arguing that it violates the Hague Relations of 1907 and Geneva Conventions of 1949.
A major characteristic of the corporate takeover of Iraq is the awarding of contracts to companies with dubious histories of fraud and corruption, with the latest example being Custer Battles LLC, an international security company who recently was added to a list of contractors prohibited from receiving contracts. The United States Air Force found evidence of “fraud, antitrust violations, embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, false statements, [and] other offenses indicating a lack of business integrity.” Custer Battles is one of the few companies who has actually faced sanctions for their behavior.
Fallujah Assault a Possible Reawakening of Antiwar Movement
In the wake of a new Bush presidency and an assault on Fallujah, there is a possibility that the rather dormant anti-war/anti-occupation movement outside of Iraq may be revived. While the movement attracted thousands to protests against the Republican National Convention in August of 2004 it has been rather silent since then. However, with the attack on Fallujah, reports are coming in of protests across the country with actions closing down military recruiting stations and embassies, as well as the usual street marches.