IRAQ: Fallujah Braces for Another Assault
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
FALLUJAH, Jul 21 (IPS) - U.S. and Iraqi forces are preparing another siege of Fallujah under the pretext of combating "terror", residents and officials say.
Located 69 km west of Baghdad, the city that suffered two devastating U.S. attacks in 2004 has watched security degrade over recent months.
"Ruling powers in the city fighting to gain full control seem willing to use the security collapse to accuse each other of either conspiracy (in lawlessness) or incapability of control," Sufian Ahmed, a lawyer and human rights activist in Fallujah told IPS.
"They suddenly changed their tone from saying that the city was the safest in Iraq to claiming that al-Qaeda is a serious threat. Fallujah residents know their so-called leaders are using security threats to terrify them for their own political interests."
In the face of U.S. military claims of improved security, violence has been rising by the day this month. The city has now been placed under tight curfew while U.S. and Iraqi military forces prepare for a new offensive, according to the local Azzaman daily.
Iraqi security forces have established new checkpoints around the city and are forbidding movement of people and traffic. Pick-up trucks are roaming the city warning residents that al-Qaeda has once again infiltrated Fallujah.
Iraqi police officers insist that the situation is under control despite the "occasional incidents that take place all over Iraq."
The indications on the ground belie these claims. "The Americans and their allies transferred our leader, Colonel Fayssal al-Zoba'i from his post because they have bad plans for the city," a major in the Fallujah police force told IPS. "He has all the right to keep his post because he was the one who led us to defeat the insurgency while the Americans failed. They (the U.S. military) seem to have a plan to destroy the city again." Read On