Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Falluja Redux

If you don't remember what an unmitigated disaster the attempt to take Falluja was, you can check the YWA blogs on it here (a permanent link is in the sidebar).

Now, it appears we are about to go after Sadr City, proving I can sometimes still be surprised...

Commanders say they intend to use political negotiations to gain peaceful entry into the district, bringing with them Iraqi forces and reconstruction projects. U.S. officials hope "to take Sadr City without a shot fired," said Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., the senior U.S. general overseeing Baghdad.

But negotiations have had setbacks, with key players shot or intimidated.


If political avenues are exhausted, the U.S. military has formulated other options, including plans for a wholesale clearing operation in Sadr City that would require a much larger force, but commanders stress that this is a last resort.


Not particularly comforting when you stop and think about the chances of "political negotiations" gaining "peaceful entry". What? Al Sadr's group is just going to let the Americans waltz in and set up shop? We don't take hints very well, do we? What with "key players" being "shot or intimidated."

"A second Fallujah plan exists, but we don't want to execute it," a military officer in Baghdad said, referring to the U.S. military offensive in November 2004 to retake the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah in Iraq's western Anbar province. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

Provide your own retort.

Mike at Born at the Crest of the Empire comments:

I'm not sure if this was "leaked" to pressure the folks in Sadr City, but if they're serious, they'd better look again. Fallujah had only 400,000 residents at the time, and the city is far more spread out.

Sadr City is 2 million people stacked into an apartment block slum.

"Clearing" Sadr City would be impossible with the forces currently available.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Actually, Falluja is still very much involved in the violence, even though the US tries to put a positive spin on it.

Progress in Fallujah is "phenomenal," he said, describing how although the 2004 Operation al-Fajr almost destroyed the city, with nearly all the residents being captured or killed, the city today has almost 4,000 residents.

"Fallujah today is an economically strong and flourishing city," Simcock said. "We're making great progress."

They never tire of spewing that bullshit, do they? I wouldn't call 4,000 "strong and flourishing." That may be a typo or a misquote. And then again, it may be exactly the kind of idiot logic we've come to expect. The Huntsville Times reports that Falluja has "well over" 350,000 people "and growing." I don't know what the real figure might be. Reports I've read say there were approximately 350,000 when we drove out most of them and tore it up. I read somewhere 36,000 out of its 50,000 homes were destroyed. I just don't know. But, here's another loose set of stats in light of a new British play:

The US attack on Fallujah in April 2004 convulsed the city – between 60 and 70 per cent of the buildings were flattened and even today the population stands at only 30-50 per cent of its pre-war level. Yet there is little public knowledge of what has been described as “one of the most extensive human rights violations of recent times”. Now a play at the Old Truman Brewery in London’s Brick Lane is trying to put it back on the map.

It’s an uphill task. A performance about a ruthless assault in a murderous war is not everyone’s choice of an evening out.

  OneWorld UK

Even so, I imagine it will play better in England than it would on this side of the pond.

P.P.S. While they may no longer be making headlines, those soldiers are still missing.

Update 5/25: Car bomb exploded at a funeral in Falluja.