FALLUJAH - Security has collapsed again in Fallujah, despite US military
Local militias supported by US forces claim to have "cleansed"
the city, 70 km 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 seems unwilling
to cover the actual situation here," a human rights activist in Fallujah,
speaking on terms of anonymity given the tense situation, told 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 here, 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 houses."
"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 300 dollars per
month by the US military.
IPS talked to Sheikh Wussam al-Hardan, known as the "engineer" of
the Awakening Forces of Anbar Province. He blamed the Islamic Party for abuses
carried out against civilians in Fallujah.
"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 January 2007."
On Jun. 26, a suicide bomber attacked a city council meeting of local tribal
sheikhs affiliated with Awakening Groups and military officials. Three 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 machine."
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 Iraqi Prime Minister
Nouri al-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
(Inter Press Service)