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Déjà vu in Ramadi

Posted in the database on Wednesday, June 14th, 2006 @ 12:40:57 MST (2418 views)
by Mike Whitney    Information Clearing House  

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"Come and see the blood in the streets." Pablo Neruda, ‘Selected Poems’

We’ve seen this before. An Iraqi city is surrounded by troops and armored vehicles; the artillery is wheeled into place, the roads are blocked, a giant wall of sand is piled up around the perimeter, and everything goes silent before the final onslaught.

We’ve seen it in Falluja, al Qaim, Husbaya and Tel Afar; the same persistent refrain over and over again; Rumsfeld’s lone mantra; “surround, isolate and destroy”.

This time it’s Ramadi, next time somewhere else; what difference does it make? Iraq is being decimated city by city, town by town; ravaged by invaders who see an opportunity to fatten their wallets or enhance their reputations. They’ll level everything before they’re done.

Ramadi is just another dot on the map; another set of mud-buildings in a vast ocean of oil; another convenient testing-ground for the War Department's next generation of high-tech weaponry. To hell with the people; their lives mean nothing.

The strategy for Ramadi is the same as everywhere else; “search and destroy”; identify all areas of resistance and crush them with an iron fist. We don’t do diplomacy, we don’t do negotiations, we don’t do “body counts”.

No one defies the new boss.

Ramadi is a teeming city of 400,000 people. Now it is under siege by Rumsfeld’s legions. The water lines have been blown up, medical supplies have been blocked, electricity has been cut off, and tens of thousands of people are fleeing into the countryside without shelter or food.

This is what is taking place in Ramadi right now. It’s not a video game; its real, and its being executed by the United States under the cover of “liberation” or some other such nonsense.

According to Times correspondent Megan Stack:

"The image pieced together from interviews with tribal leaders and fleeing families in recent weeks is one of a desperate population of 400,000 people trapped in the crossfire between insurgents and U.S. forces…U.S. and Iraqi forces had cordoned off the city…Air-strikes on several residential areas picked up, and troops took to the streets with loudspeakers to warn civilians of a fierce impending attack.”

“Air strikes on residential areas”?

Not our areas, their areas. Areas where “hajis” and rag-heads live. Ramadi is just another “terrorist sanctuary” to be “democratized” with laser-guided weapons and firebombs. Who cares that thousands of lives will be lost in another barbarous assault on a civilian population? Who cares that property and infrastructure will be reduced to rubble?

The “free press” will paper it over. They always do.

1500 fresh troops have been deployed to Ramadi for the offensive. Residents are afraid of a Falluja-style battle where vast swathes of the city will be left in ruins and thousands of people killed or injured.

The city has been cut off from all sides and American patrols have announced on loudspeakers that civilians should evacuate immediately. Independent journalists are reporting that “fierce fighting” has already broken out between occupation forces and resistance fighters. Air strikes and helicopter raids have intensified. American soldiers are forcing their way into homes in residential areas and snipers have taken positions on the city’s roof tops.

On Saturday, June 10, accounts from inside the city confirmed that:

“A full-scale American attack on Ramadi has commenced and fierce fighting is taking place in most of the districts…American fighter planes are now taking part in the offensive.”

Silence from the American media. Silence from the congress. Silence from the United Nations.

Another colossal war crime is taking shape and the world averts its eyes once again.

Thousands of the city’s residents have refused to leave because they either have no money, no means of transportation, or no place to go. They'll probably be caught in the crossfire just as others were in Falluja.

It’s a good day for Rumsfeld; another chance to spread misery across the pock-marked landscape; another opportunity to experiment with the Pentagon’s latest lethal gadgetry, another occasion to reduce a major Iraqi city to Dresden-type wreckage.

He is completely free to work his magic. No one will notice anyway.


Residents flee Ramadi, fearing U.S., Iraqi offensive

Megan K. Stack, Louise Roug, Los Angeles Times

Frightened by warnings of an imminent offensive by U.S. troops massed around the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, residents are pouring out of the tense city to escape what they describe as a mounting humanitarian crisis.

U.S. and Iraqi forces cordoned off the city Saturday and were asking civilians to evacuate, residents and Iraqi officials said. Air strikes on several residential neighborhoods picked up, and troops took to the streets with loudspeakers to warn civilians of a fierce impending attack, Ramadi police Capt. Tahseen Aldulaimi said.

U.S. military officials refused to confirm or deny reports that a Ramadi offensive was under way.

The image pieced together from interviews with tribal sheikhs and fleeing families is one of a desperate population of 400,000 people trapped in the crossfire between anti-American insurgents and U.S. forces. Food and medical supplies are running low, prices for gas have soared because of shortages, and municipal services have ground to a stop.

Thousands of families remain trapped in the city, those who have fled say. Many cannot afford to leave, or they lack transportation. Some families decided to wait for their children to finish final examinations at school before escaping.

"The situation is catastrophic. No services, no electricity, no water," said Sheikh Fassal Raikan al-Gout, the former governor of Ramadi. "People in Ramadi are caught between two plagues: the vicious, armed insurgents and the American and Iraqi troops."

Residents have been particularly unnerved by the recent arrival of 1,500 U.S. troops sent to reinforce the perimeter of the city. Street battles between troops and insurgents have been raging for months, but the new deployment left residents bracing for a mass offensive to take back the town from insurgents.

Military officials have insisted that the deployment did not presage a massive offensive. "Moving this force will allow tribal leaders and government officials to go about the very difficult task of taking back their towns from the criminal elements," said Army Maj. J. Todd Breasseale, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

The largest city in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, Ramadi has degenerated into a nest for insurgents. Even now, when U.S. forces are working to scale back their visibility throughout Iraq, daily combat continues to seethe in Ramadi.

"If things continue, we will have a humanitarian crisis," said Falah Zaidan Luhaibi, a Sunni member of Iraq's new parliament. "People are getting killed or wounded, and the rest are just migrating aimlessly."


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