'We're paying the mujahideen not to shoot at us'
In Fallujah, the most restive city in the Sunni Triangle of Iraq,
anti-American feeling is white-hot. Jack Fairweather is smuggled
inside the city that is a no-go area for Westerners
Wearing an American-supplied uniform and armed with a battered AK47
rifle, Abdullah lounged at the checkpoint on the outskirts of
A month ago he probably had his face masked by an Arab headscarf, and
was launching attacks against US marines. Now, as a member of the US-
sponsored Fallujah Brigade, he controls access to the city.
Such is the strange nature of the peace that has seen the Iraqi
resistance take command of Fallujah, the most restive city in the
Sunni Triangle of Iraq, where anti-American feeling is white-hot.
US marines pulled out last month and an Iraqi security force hastily
formed from Saddam Hussein's old army moved in. The fighting was over
as abruptly as it had begun, with US commanders lauding the peace
"It's an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem," said a marine general
optimistically. Fallujah has since become a model for dealing with
the Shia uprising in the south.
But few on the ground share such optimism. There may be peace, but
officers say Fallujah has simply been handed over to the insurgents.
A US officer said: "All we've succeeded in doing is paying off the
mujahideen to stop shooting at us. There's a cauldron of hate out
there and its going to boil over."
The town is currently a no-go area for US troops, and by extension,
any westerner. Despite lucrative rebuilding contracts, none has
entered the city since four contractors were killed and their bodies
mutilated in March, prompting the American incursion.
I was driven into Fallujah with black curtains drawn around the rear
seat of the car, the only way for a foreigner to enter. As soon as we
passed the final US-supervised checkpoint a few miles from town
centre I hid my face.
My escort, a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which negotiated the
peace deal with the marines, warned me that he would not be able to
guarantee my safety if I set foot outside the car.
The reason for such caution was obvious. Brown-shirted members of the
Fallujah Brigade, most of them former resistance fighters, manned
checkpoints across the city. The few residents who agreed to talk
were hastily smuggled into the back of the car.
"Welcome to the free republic of Fallujah," said one resident, who
would not give his name. "We run this city now and no American will
ever enter here again."
A look of horror passed over the face of another man when he saw a
westerner in the back of the car. "What are you doing here? I will be
killed if I am seen with you. You must leave. Get out!" he said.
Many American military officials now privately accept that going into
Fallujah was a mistake. Seventy marines and an estimated 800 Iraqis
were killed in six weeks of clashes. The fighting inspired the Shia
uprising in the south.
But officials also say that leaving the insurgents unbeaten may prove
a greater problem.
"It's difficult to understand what's been achieved in Fallujah. We've
got to start from scratch all over again," said a member of the civil
and military affairs team outside the city.
If the resistance has won a victory in Fallujah, it is one which few
of its citizens rejoice in. Shops may be open and markets stuffed
with fresh vegetables, but everywhere bears the scars of war.
Demolished houses pockmark the streets, and the minaret of the main
mosque, where snipers once hid, is riddled with bullets. Iraqi
officials estimate that more than 2,000 homes were damaged in the
Abdul Razzak is a civil engineer who has spent the past month
assessing the war damage for compensation claims.
So far he has a bill running into the multi-millions with thousands
of claimants. The US military has agreed to hand out £650 million.
Radical Iraqi Cleric Rejects Interim Government
KUFA, Iraq (BGNES) - Rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rejected
Iraq's new interim government on Friday but agreed to shore up a
shaky truce with American forces after weeks of clashes.
Sadr's men have fought fierce battles with U.S. troops in and around
the holy city of Najaf, but the area was quiet for the first time in
days on Friday after Shiite leaders helped broker a fresh truce
A new interim government was appointed by the United Nations on
Tuesday after consultation with the U.S.-led administration and Iraqi
leaders, and is due to take over from U.S. occupiers on June 30.
"I do not want to have anything to do with this government," said a
statement issued by Sadr and read out by Sheikh Jader al-Khafaji at
Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, near Najaf.
"I don't believe any Iraqi would accept this appointment of a
government by the occupier. There is no freedom or democracy without
independence," he said, speaking to several thousand worshippers
gathered at the mosque where Sadr normally preaches.
"Which country has accepted the U.N. appointing its rulers except for
Afghanistan and Iraq? Leave us to decide our fate as a unified
people, not under submission to the occupier."
Sadr also called for elections to determine the country's next
government. Under current plans, polls planned for January will elect
members of a transitional government that will draft a new
constitution. More polls will then choose a constitutionally elected
government, perhaps in early 2006.
Shiite politicians said earlier on Friday that Sadr had agreed to
withdraw his fighters from the city of Najaf within two days, as long
as U.S. forces also withdrew.
Sadr also proposed that neutral observers monitor the truce, the
Shiite politicians said after hours of talks with the firebrand
preacher in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.
A truce attempt last week failed to take hold and there have been
frequent skirmishes around Najaf.
On Thursday afternoon, gunfire and explosions erupted in Najaf when
two U.S. tanks advanced toward the cemetery, where some militia
fighters are still dug in, witnesses said. There was an exchange of
fire for around half an hour, and the tanks later withdrew.
Iraq's top Shi'ite religious leaders have been highly critical of
Sadr for fighting in holy cities -- but have also said the U.S.
military response was heavy-handed. Washington is keen to secure a
truce before the June 30 handover of power.
Among those mediating has been Ahmad Chalabi, a wealthy former exile
who has fallen out of favor with Washington.
Once seen as the U.S. choice to lead Iraq, but lacking any clear
electoral base, he has become sharply critical of U.S. policy and
appears to be trying to establish himself as a leader of his fellow
Shi'ites inside the country. /Reuters
Four US soldiers die in attack:
Four United States soldiers were killed and five wounded on Friday
when a blast struck their convoy on the edge of the Shi'ite militia
stronghold of Sadr City, the US military said.
"Four soldiers were killed and five wounded in an explosion on their
convoy in Baghdad at around 1.10pm [9.10am GMT]," a spokesperson
said, adding that the nature of the device was under investigation.
Witnesses earlier told an AFP correspondent on the scene that the
convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade before a roadside bomb
A 21-year-old Iraqi was seriously wounded by the blast, his father
said. Witnesses said a cameraman was also injured when US troops
opened fire to keep bystanders away.
The attack followed overnight clashes in Sadr City between US troops
and militiamen loyal to radical cleric Moqatada al-Sadr. -- Sapa-AFP
Delusion on a psychotic scale:
In the face of all the evidence, the Iraq Survey Group is still
searching for WMD.
The price of failure in Iraq:
The US Iraqi enterprise was meant to transform the entire Middle East
to the benefit of the Americans. Ironically, it is the US failure now
that threatens to spread elsewhere
Fund For Peace Study Concludes that
Iraq Has Descended Into a Failed State Syndrome:
6/3/2004 11:26:00 AM
Contact: Pauline H. Baker of the Fund For Peace, 202-223-7946 or
WASHINGTON, June 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A report released today by The
Fund for Peace (FfP) concludes that instead of addressing the
fundamental requirements of rebuilding the state, post-war policies
undertaken by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)
focused primarily on completing the process of regime change.
Consequently, Iraq has deteriorated further into a failed state
Dr. Pauline H. Baker, author of the report, describes a failed state
syndrome as a condition in which a number of trends reinforce each
other to produce spiraling conflict that the country has little or no
independent capacity to stop. The report concludes that, a year after
the invasion, Iraq is as shattered as it was the day that Saddam
Hussein was overthrown, the main difference being that organized
militias and terrorist groups have gained a foothold they did not
"We have to get the facts straight before we can get the policy
straight," said Dr. Baker. "Currently, there are three major fictions
that are being used to describe the transition in Iraq. The first is
analytical - that Iraq could become a failed state, when, in fact, it
already has failed. The second is legal - that the occupation will
end on June 30, when, in fact, the occupation will end when foreign
troops are withdrawn and capable Iraqi security forces take over. And
the third is political - that after June 30, the sovereign government
of Iraq and the people will be allied with the United States. In
fact, the interim government will not have full sovereignty and the
people are increasingly fearful and resentful of the U.S. presence."
The study, which was done with the Fund's conflict assessment
methodology, is updated every six months to evaluate progress toward
sustainable security. This is the second in the series.
The report maps out five future scenarios. It states that, if current
trends continue, Iraq is likely headed toward a Lebanon- like
outcome, with civil war and possible intervention by neighboring
states. To avoid this or other undesirable outcomes, the U.S. must
work more closely with the U.N. to build a wider international
coalition prepared to provide two years of peacekeeping forces and
five to ten years of economic support in a long-term plan aimed at
sustainable security. Currently, no planning is being done beyond the
next election and other nations are reluctant to provide troops for
U.N. peacekeeping, even over the next six months leading to
elections. That will be a critical make-or-break period, when the
tipping point will occur, determining whether Iraq will move toward
constitutionalism or chaos.
Dr. Baker urged policy-makers to separate truth from fiction. She
warned that, "fictional accounts have led to false assumptions,
misplaced expectations and misguided policies in the past. They will
do so in the future, if we are not careful."
The report was released at an "Afternoon Newsmaker" held Wednesday,
June 2, 2004, 3 to 4 p.m., at the National Press Club, 529 14th
Street NW, DC. Pauline H. Baker, author of the report, presented. The
report can be found at The Fund for Peace website:
Dr. Baker's bio can be found at
The Fund For Peace
is a Washington-based non-profit organization whose mission is to
prevent war and alleviate the conditions that cause war. It promotes
education and research for practical solutions and is a consistent
advocate of promoting social justice and respect for the principles
of constitutional democracy. For more information, please visit:
New Plan Would Let Iraq Order Troops Out :
The United States and Britain revised their Security Council
resolution on transferring sovereignty to Iraq (news - web sites) on
Friday, giving the country's new interim government authority to
order the U.S.-led multinational force to leave at any time
Transfer of power in Iraq is no more than a cynical exercise in
"The nature of the power structures being established in Iraq leaves
no doubt that what the US is building is the equivalent of the sort
of "indirect empire" that the British built in much of India and in
other parts of the world. Then, the British officially had "treaties"
with sovereign Indian rulers, and maintained the pretence that the
Indian rulers were the real rulers, with British officers there as
diplomatic representatives or advisors."
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