Highlights

 
Quotable
Governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deducted from it.
Friedrich Hebbel, German poet and dramatist
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
August 21, 2007

Baquba Caught Between the US and Al-Qaeda


by Jim Lobe

BAQUBA - The major U.S. military operation in Baquba city north of Baghdad has ended, but it has left continuing suffering for residents in its wake.

The U.S. military launched Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Baquba, 30 mi. northeast of Baghdad, on June 18. Baquba is the capital city of Iraq's Diyala province.

The stated goal of the operation was to eradicate al-Qaeda from the city and other areas in the province. The region has seen some of the highest number of attacks on U.S. troops.

Shortly after launching the operation, the U.S. military admitted that nearly 80 percent of al-Qaeda militants had fled the area.

Residents had been looking for an end to raids and abductions by criminal gangs and sectarian death squads, but the U.S. military operation brought no relief.

"People here feel afraid because the coalition forces always push al-Qaeda out of the cities, but unfortunately they return when the troops retreat," resident Mohammed Hulail told IPS. "So the coalition forces can provide no solution."

A Baquba city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that al-Qaeda militants had already returned to parts of the city. "We are now sure that Iraqi police and army cannot defeat al-Qaeda who are well fortified in the streets and buildings."

Residents have learnt to fear enemies on all sides. "People are the victims of this war because they are in the middle point between the American forces and the fighters of al-Qaeda," Jabbar Ibrahim, a secondary school teacher in the city, told IPS. "The fighters of al-Qaeda came to control the city, but when the U.S. troops came to fight them, they ran away, leaving civilians to face the shells the bombs."

Many residents complain of indiscriminate arrests through the U.S. forces' search for al-Qaeda suspects. "Arrests are sometimes made wrongly; simple people who have nothing to do with fighting and violence were arrested, and those who were the real fighters ran away," a resident who declined to give his name told IPS.

The Iraqi Islamic Party has accused the Multi-National Forces operating in the area of killing many people in Baquba in the early weeks of the operation.

"The operations led by the U.S. forces in western Baquba led to the death of more than 350 people, most of whom are still under the rubble," the party said in a statement.

Many residents in this city of 300,000 say that operation Arrowhead Ripper has made living conditions worse. "We spent 12 days without water, electricity, and food," Hamid Shaaban, a 51-year-old retired city official, told IPS. And U.S. forces were of little help.

"I have seven children," said Shaaban. "I went to ask U.S. troops for food and water." All he got, he said, was some bottled water. He was then sent away.

The shortage of water hit the city at the worst time of the year. "The temperature was between 45 and 51 degrees C [113-123 degrees F]," an elderly woman said. "We have had very long days; it has been terrible."

Most residents IPS spoke to said they would leave if they could, but they either lacked funds or simply did not know where to go.

"We do not have another place to go in order to leave this miserable place," resident Kamil Abid told IPS. "All places are the same, and we have no money to start again."

The U.S. military has often detained people who have stayed home during the attacks and searches. Several residents say a decision to stay on was often seen as a gesture of defiance.

Now almost everyone seems fed up with the violence and intimidation from all sides. "What people want is security in order to get back again to their jobs to earn their living," said the owner of a local food store. "Providing this is the responsibility of the coalition forces and the Iraqi government."

Suspicions abound that the U.S. forces do not really want to solve the problem. "U.S. governments always tend to create an enemy, and then fight him in order to show weak governments, like this one in Iraq, that they cannot do without the support of U.S. power," said a retired army officer.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com