By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
Inter Press Service News Agency
FALLUJAH, Apr 14 (IPS) - Fallujah remains a crippled city more than two years after the November 2004 U.S.-led assault.
Unemployment, and lack of medical care and safe drinking water in the city 60 km west of Baghdad remain a continuous problem. Freedom of movement is still curtailed. The city suffered two devastating U.S. military attacks during 2004. Many of the buildings were destroyed, or heavily damaged. Several collapsed under the heavy bombing, and were never rebuilt. The heaps of concrete slabs and piles of rubble remain where they were.
"We wonder why we have been targeted by Americans since the first days of the occupation," Dr. Mohammad Abed from al-Anbar University told IPS. "This city sacrificed thousands of its citizens through five years of occupation just because they said 'no' to a project that threatens their country's future."
Now a less visible form of destruction is being spread, he said. "The new wave of destruction is represented by tearing the social tissue apart. The Americans are paying tremendous amounts of money to get people of Fallujah to fight each other."
The road into Fallujah from the main Amman-Baghdad highway is safer today, but nobody is allowed into Fallujah who is not from the city and can prove it by providing elaborate identity documentation. That can only be obtained by undergoing biometric identification by the U.S. military -- a process which includes retina scans, body searches and finger-printing before issuance of a bar-coded ID badge. The city remains sealed.
Many residents refer to it as a big jail.
"Being sealed for five years, Fallujah has lost all aspects of natural life," Ahmad Hamid, a former member of the city council told IPS. READ ON