Odds Heavily Against Fallujah Attack Succeeding


Richard Moore


  Odds Heavily Against U.S. Counter-Attack Succeeding
 By Justin Huggler
 The Independent U.K.

 Thursday 11 November 2004

There was something familiar in the muddy reports from

Just as during the invasion of Iraq last year, television
pictures provided drama, but little hard information. Nobody
was really sure how the American assault was going.

A city still packed with civilians has been subjected to a
withering assault of United States air strikes and artillery.
But outside the Arab world, international criticism of the US
attack on the city was unexpectedly muted. There was a sense
among many observers that this latest ratcheting of Iraq's
agony had become inevitable.

The Americans painted themselves into a corner. The mistakes
that led to yesterday's fighting were made long ago, in the
invasion of Iraq and the woeful failure to administer the
country that followed. The US could not stand by and do
nothing as the country descended ever further into anarchy.

The insurgents are able to operate at will, striking where and
when they please. The wave of beheadings of Westerners and
Iraqis who work for the West has wrecked any vestigial hope of
rebuilding the country. The last aid agencies are fleeing.

Unless the Americans were to admit defeat and leave - which
they won't, yet - they had to try to strike back at the

Fallujah's defiance has come to symbolize the insurgency, and
it appears to have become a major base for foreign militants
such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian al Qaeda ally who
is accused of being behind many of the beheadings.

But every indication is that the odds are heavily against this
US counter-attack succeeding. There is no doubt the Americans
have the military strength to take Fallujah, or raze it. But
that is not their aim. They need to stem the insurgency, and
the omens are not good.

Insurgents can simply slip away to another city, or lie low
and live to fight another day. That is what happened when the
Americans tried to pacify Samarra last month. At the weekend
the militants were back in Samarra. At least 34 people died in
a wave of car bombings.

Even as US troops were advancing into Fallujah, there were
reports of insurgents arriving in the neighboring city of
Ramadi and taking up positions to secure the center there.
Fallujah may have become a symbol of the insurgency, but it
has never been the only rebel stronghold.

But the Americans have more fundamental problems. The truth is
they don't know how many insurgents there are, who they are or
where they are. If they did they could launch more pinpoint
attacks. They are mounting a full-scale assault that risks
massive civilian casualties which would only turn Iraq against
them more completely than ever.

The Americans have made much of Zarqawi, but all the signs are
that he is really only one among many insurgent leaders. The
Americans have not even named another.

The assumption that Fallujah is a city of Iraqis under the
control of foreign militants is wrong. There may be foreign
militants there, but they are allied with Iraqi insurgents.

Fallujah is a microcosm of the problem the US has created in
Iraq. The invasion has blurred the lines between the Islamic
extremist movement - the likes of Zarqawi - and Iraqi
nationalists protecting their land from foreign occupation.
The "war on terror" has become hopelessly blurred with
nationalist resistance against occupation.

The chances are that most foreign militants will slip out of
Fallujah and the Americans will find themselves fighting local
Iraqis trying to defend their city. If the Americans were to
strike it spectacularly lucky, they might kill or capture
Zarqawi and other foreign militants, and manage to avoid
inflicting heavy casualties. But the odds are against it. The
likes of Zarqawi are probably long gone.

Or the Americans may have another aim in mind: To respond to
the nightmare videos of Westerners being beheaded in kind.
They may feel "putting Fallujah to the torch", as it has been
described in the American press, will put the insurgents on
notice that they can expect horror in exchange for horror.

It is a familiar tactic from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
and all it ever led to there was an endless cycle of killing.

© Copyright 2004 by TruthOut.org

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Global Transformation: Whey We Need It And How We Can Achieve It", current 
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