Dahr Jamail: What’s happening in Ramadi


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 11:25:44 -0700
To: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.•••
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: Ramadi: Fallujah Redux

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com **

      Ramadi: Fallujah Redux

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 12 June 2006

Fearful residents are now pouring out of Ramadi after the US military has been 
assaulting the city for months with tactics like cutting water, electricity and 
medical aid, imposing curfews, and attacking by means of snipers and random air 
strikes. This time, Iraqis there are right to fear the worst - an all out attack
on the city, similar to what was done to nearby Fallujah.

It has always been just a matter of time before the US military would finally 
get around to destroying Ramadi, the capital city of al-Anbar province. After 
all, Ramadi is not far from Fallujah, and so similar to Fallujah both tribally 
and in their disdain towards the idea of being occupied, that many people in 
Ramadi even refer to Fallujah as "Ramadi." I know many people from Ramadi who 
lost relatives and friends during both US assaults on Fallujah, and the level of
anti-American sentiment has always been high there.

By now, we all know the scene when the US military in Iraq decides to attack an 
entire city ... we've seen this standard operating procedure repeated, to one 
degree or another, in Haditha, Al-Qa'im, Samarra, parts of Baghdad, Balad, Najaf
and Fallujah twice ... so far. The city is sealed for weeks if not months, water
and electricity are cut, medical aid is cut, curfews imposed, mobility impaired,
air strikes utilized, then the real attack begins. Now in Ramadi, the real 
attack has begun.

Warplanes are streaking the sky as bombings increase, loudspeakers aimed into 
the city warn civilians of a "fierce impending attack," (even though it has 
already begun), and thousands of families remain trapped in their homes, just 
like in Fallujah during both attacks on that city. Again, many who remain in the
city cannot afford to leave because they are so poor, or they lack 
transportation, or they want to guard their home because it is all they have 

Sheikh Fassal Guood, a former governor of al-Anbar said of the situation, "The 
situation is catastrophic. No services, no electricity, no water." He also said,
"We know for sure now that Americans and Iraqi commanders have decided to launch
a broad offensive any time now, but they should have consulted with us."

Today, a man who lives in Fallujah and who recently visited Ramadi told me, "Any
new government starts with a massacre. That seems like the price that we Iraqis 
must pay, especially in the Sunni areas. Ramadi has been deprived of water, 
electricity, telephones and all services for about two months now. US and 
government forces frankly told people of Ramadi that they will not get any 
services unless they hand over 'the terrorists!!' Operations started last week, 
but it seems that the Marines are facing some problems in a city that is a lot 
bigger in area than Fallujah. (Ramadi also has at least 50,000 more residents 
than Fallujah.) Killing civilians is almost a daily process done by snipers and 
soldiers in US armored vehicles. The problem that makes it even more difficult 
for the Ramadi people than for those of Fallujah back in 2004 is that they 
cannot flee to Baghdad, because there they'll face the government militia 
assassinations. Nevertheless, the US Army is telling them to evacuate the city. 
On the other hand, the government and the US Army made it clear that they will 
bring militias to participate in the wide attack against the city. The UN and 
the whole world are silent as usual, and nobody seems to care what is going to 
happen in Ramadi."

Thus, the stage was set and now Iraqis brace themselves for yet another 
staggeringly high civilian body count in Ramadi. This, amidst recent news from 
the Department of Defense that over $19 million has been paid out in 
compensation by the US military in Iraq to families who have had loved ones 
killed by US troops. The average payout is $2,500 per body, and nearly half of 
the $19 million was paid out in the province of al-Anbar. Reflective of the 
drastically increased levels of violence in Iraq, the total amount of 
compensation payouts for 2005 is nearly four times what it was the previous 

The fact that the 1,500 US troops who were recently brought into Iraq, 
specifically to Ramadi, went unreported by most, if not all, corporate media 
outlets didn't come as a surprise to the residents of Ramadi, however, as street
battles between troops and resistance fighters have been raging for months now.

The media blackout on Ramadi is already rivaling the blackout on the draconian 
measures employed by the military during the November 2004 siege of Fallujah, if
not surpassing it. Thus far, the military have remained reluctant to allow even 
embedded reporters to travel with them in Ramadi. With each passing US assault 
on an Iraqi city, the media blackout grows darker - and with Ramadi, it is the 
darkest yet.

Most of what we have, aside from sporadic reports from sources inside the 
besieged city, is propaganda from the US military spokesman in Baghdad, Major 
Todd Breasseale, who only spoke of moving the newly arrived 1,500 troops in from
Kuwait into positions around Ramadi. "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."

Similar to Fallujah, thousands of frightened residents of Ramadi are fleeing the
city, then being turned away from entering Baghdad. With no tents, food, or aid 
of any kind being provided to them by the military, which is a war crime, they 
are left with nothing but what they carry and no place to go. These refugees are
now adding to the horrific statistic of over 100,000 displaced families within 
Iraq, the majority of whom are so as the result of massive US military 
operations which have a tendency to make entire cities unlivable.

Reports from sources within Ramadi for weeks now have been that US soldiers have
been inhabiting people's homes in order to use their rooftops as sniper 
platforms, innocent people are being shot daily, and people are confused - do 
they risk leaving and having nowhere to go, or risk staying in their homes and 
possibly being killed?

Hassan Zaidan Lahaibi, a member of the Council of Representatives in the Iraqi 
parliament, told reporters recently, "If things continue, we will have a 
humanitarian crisis. People are getting killed or wounded, and the rest are just
migrating aimlessly."

He could just as easily be describing much of the rest of Iraq, where the 
majority of people struggle to survive under the weight of an increasingly 
brutal occupation, US-backed death squads, sectarian militias, staggering 
unemployment and a devastated infrastructure.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

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