the Disillusioned kid: No More Fallujahs!
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No More Fallujahs!

The long anticipated assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah has begun in earnest. Weeks of increasingly heavy bombing, including the targeting of an emergency hospital, have been followed by the taking of the city's general hospital located on its outskirts and large scale incursions into the city proper. The taking of the hospital was a particularly reprehensible act, constituting a breach of the Geneva Conventions and being justified by the US military on the basis that it was "a center of propaganda," a claim they supported by citing its dissemination of casualty figures during the assault on the city in April. Having captured the hospital they then, according to ITN Lunchtime news yesterday, proceeded to arrest all "military-aged males". This very likely included many - if not all - of the doctors at the facility, not to mention many of their patients.

The US and UK government have sought to present the assault as an Iraqi mission which they are supporting. They point to the participation of Iraq forces, although this appears to be limited to say the least. The Pentagon reportedly claim that the operation involves some 10,000 US troops and 2,000 or so Iraqis. However, this is only the number of Iraqis who are supposed to be involved, Zeynep Toufe cites a report which suggests that many may already have deserted:
A National Public Radio correspondent embedded with the Marines outside Fallujah reported desertions among the Iraqis. One Iraqi battalion shrunk from over 500 men down to 170 over the past two week - with 255 members quitting over the weekend, the correspondent said.
The numbers deserting are only likely to increase with the Muslim Clerics Association, a national group with some influence among insurgents, urging Iraqi troops to "beware of making the grave mistake" of joining the US-led assault.

Make no mistake, whatever Rumsfeld might try to claim, this assault will claim hundreds if not thousands of lives. Many will be killed directly, but others will die as a result of medical supplies running out and clinics being forced to close, as is already happening according to a report in the Guardian. It is clear that, contrary to the rhetoric, US forces are not that bothered about "collateral damage", another article in the Guardian reports, "US army soldiers fired volleys of mortars into the southern parts of the city," without further comment. I don't know much about mortars, but something tells me they aren't particularly discriminating.

This assault is an atrocity, that should be opposed by all decent, right-thinking people. There have already been protests across the country called by local anti-war movements, including one, yesterday evening in Nottingham. Unfortunately most of these demonstrations seem to be small (the one in Nottingham drew 20-30 people) and are unlikely to have much, if any, effect. This doesn't mean people shouldn't participate in such actions, if only as a moral statement, but does raise important questions about what tactics we should use and how we go about campaigning. However, while we wrestle with these questions people will continue to die in Fallujah and the US will prepare to attack other Iraqi cities such as Ramadi. This being the case, I can't avoid the conclusion that in the short to medium-term, the only thing which can stop or even slow down the current wave of US aggression would be serious losses inflicted on US forces by the Iraqi resistance in their defence of Fallujah. I say this without any illusions about some of the people involved in the resistance and as someone who had serious reservations about the adoption of "victory to the resistance" as a slogan by many in the anti-war movement.

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